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GC or CLO: What's the Difference, Anyway?

Rebekah Mintzer corpcounsel.com

The title of general counsel has long signaled that the holder is the top dog of the law department—the resident czar of all things legal. But the title's meaning isn't as clear these days because of the rise of another title: chief legal officer.

There's little doubt that there are more CLOs today than in past years. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, according to survey data from the Association of Corporate Counsel, the number of in-house counsel using the title of CLO jumped from 10 percent to 22 percent, and continues to rise.

So, who is the CLO? Is he or she just a general counsel by another name? Sometimes, yes. But often there are distinctions. "It's hard to get higher than chief," said Bob Graff, a partner and recruiter at legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. "It says: I'm ultimately responsible for all things legal and often times for all things compliance as well."

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