According to data collected in early 2007 from 84 multinational companies, the general counsel was almost as likely not to attend Board meetings at all as to attend any. Three-quarters of the respondents were from companies with headquarters in Northern Europe or the UK and Ireland and the results come from PLCLaw Dept. Quart., Vol. 3, April-June 2007, at 22.
Of the responding general counsel, 59 percent of them attend Board meetings, but the report does not indicate any average percentage of Board meetings attended by those who do. One interpretation is that they routinely or always attend Board meetings, but it is possible that the general counsel attend only when invited. The other 41 percent of the general counsel who responded do not attend any Board meetings.
I am unaware of any corresponding survey data for US general counsel, but I am confident that a much higher proportion of them participate in Board meetings. Many of them are corporate secretaries, for one reason (See my post of Oct. 2, 2006: should be part of the general counsel’s responsibilities; and April 13, 2007: to whom should the corporate secretary report.) and lawyers are more highly regarded as a corporate executive on this side of the Atlantic for another reason.