Many promotions leave in their wake one or more disappointed lawyers. This is especially true when a new general counsel is appointed from inside. The passed-over lawyers in-house, those who thought they had a shot at the top job, may accept the new leader and remain as productive and loyal as before – or they may seethe with resentment. Those lawyers who are near retirement age will probably stay on, but the young turks, the disappointed and ambitious ones, may look elsewhere.
One would hope that If HR processes and feedback have done their job, there should be no surprises (See my posts of July 31, 2005; May 1, 2005 on succession planning; and Oct. 10, 2005 on internal competition.), but many people do not realistically size up their chances to seize the brass ring.
On top of all the rigors, it must be hard for the new general counsel to mollify and retain those disappointed former colleagues who feel jilted.