So says Scott Wiegand.
And from his harrowing days as GC at PurchasePro, he should know. That experience included a criminal trial on federal charges; Mr. Wiegand was acquitted on all of them.
In an excellent and straightforward article in Corporate Counsel magazine, Mr. Wiegand provides six “lessons learned” to once and future GCs, who should consider the downside before grabbing the alleged gold in-house ring when it is seductively dangled in front of them.
I won’t summarize all six; Mr. Wiegand and his coauthors (attorneys on his defense team from Nutter McClennen & Fish) do so very ably.
Item #2, looking closely at the CEO and CFO are key, particularly in the post-Sarbox world. Item #4, talking privately to outside auditors is a great idea; but I wonder how that would work during the courtship that is the recruitment and interview process for a C-level position.
Item #5 is the key for me, albeit one that works only after you’ve accepted a GC position: remember that you are the company’s lawyer. That is a perennial challenge for GCs, particularly with smaller companies facing difficult issues.
Mr. Wiegand is now associate general counsel at Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. He is moving on, but notes the financial toll such charges can take. It’s gratifying to know that there are employers out there who see baseless charges for what they are, and keep a good lawyer regardless.