From Backstage to Lead Role: The Emergence of In-House Counsel in Executive Management
Morgan Deane, Chief Executive Officer & President of the Executive Board (Former International Head of Legal & Compliance), Helvea-Baader Bank Group, Switzerland
The evolution of General Counsel’s role within the corporate environment is an interesting one to observe. Traditionally, the in-house counsel was pigeonholed into a distinctly supporting role. The remit was typically the administrative management of the company’s legal affairs, ranging from oversight of contract negotiation and review, to engaging outside counsel for advice in specialised or litigious matters. In some instances, they would be consulted for their specialist legal view on specific subject matters which related to the company’s business activities. Outside of this, the General Counsel often occupied a position of relative anonymity and the broader legal department was seen as a cost to the business. Other than times when the company found itself in litigation, or when it needed to assess an imminent legal risk, the General Counsel was kept out of the commercial and business management decision making process. It was generally rare to find a company which would turn to its internal counsel for thoughts on business strategy or revenue growth.
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