Continuing the compliance arc started on Tuesday, GE GC Brackett Denniston brings imagination to this important work.
In an interview in Legal Week with reporter Ed Thornton, Mr. Denniston makes a point that I agree with about the link between the corporate legal and compliance functions:
“Some companies have a separate compliance head, and you can debate that, but I think that it is better â€” at least for us â€” to have law and compliance combined because they intersect so much. They are all about law, reputation, and investigation.”
Then he mentions the familiar C-word, culture:
“Now more companies understand that you cannot just publish a code of ethics and have one person who teaches compliance,” he said. “You have to have it embedded in your culture and practices.
“I always say Enron had the prettiest code of ethics that you could find. It looked nice, and everybody saluted to it and purported to observe it, but it was not a value that went into their culture.”
And finally a reminder that the GC is an advisor and a leader in the compliance process, but not a magician:
“The general counsel has to be a counsellor,” he said. “The general counsel helps bring compliance out, but the place where it becomes most effective is where the CEO and the other senior leader-ship lives it, breathes it, talks it and executes it.”
Mr. Denniston will be the keynote speaker at Legal Week’s Corporate Counsel Forum in May of this year. The conference sports an A-list of speakers, and will be held at the Westin in Paris. Not at the Paris Hilton.
Ah, Spring in Paris. When a lawyer’s heart beats briskly with thoughts of compliance. Or something.