U.K. publication Legal Director notes a recent Altman Weil survey on law firm general counsel. A few findings are of interest. Most law firm general counsel are already partners of the law firm (92%). A majority (74%) are not on the law firm’s governing board. As law firms continue to grow by “merger”, will firms see a benefit from hiring a general counsel from the outside? Will they also find merit in having the general counsel on the firm’s governing board, even in a non-voting role?
A Legal Intelligencer article on law.com casts additional light on the same survey, noting a major reason that some firms have designated general counsel: risk management concerns. These concerns often start out with a legal malpractice and conflict-of-interest focus. While reasonable, it does narrow the field as to the lawyers being considered for the position. Longer-term, will firms want general counsel with broader experience than litigation?
But in a sign that law firms are different, the article quotes a law firm general counsel on some of the unique factors they face:
“You want people to come to you sooner rather than later with potential problems,” … “And you don’t want to create an impediment such as the possibility that you might rat the lawyer out to the compensation committee.”
Sounds like fun.
Hildebrandt offers a seminar later this year; PLI has one on tape. There’s even an upcoming symposium issue in the Kansas Law Review on the subject. An ACC subcommittee on law firm general counsel may be just around the corner.