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Why Your GC Could Be The Best Point Person In A Crisis

Michele Gorman LAW360.COM

Law360 (June 24, 2019, 2:47 PM EDT) -- Decisions by Boeing and other companies to move their longtime general counsel into special positions advising CEOs and boards are unusual, but make sense if management needs a point person to help navigate a crisis — or wants legal advice removed from the daily companywide obligations of a general counsel, experts say.

"In general, somebody who's a general counsel over time will be perceived as far more than just the general counsel," said Michael Sachs, managing partner of Major Lindsey & Africa LLC's Chicago office. "If they're successful, they'll also be seen as a proven business leader."

He recalled a top corporate lawyer who was named CEO when the person who formerly held the position died unexpectedly, and another who excelled at public speaking and thus became head of corporate communications when the company went bankrupt.

"In general, it would not surprise me that a general counsel would, at a certain point in their career, take on a more strategic advising role within the organization, because that's where that person's strengths lie and maybe that's what the company needs at that time," Sachs said.

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