In today’s conditions, general counsel might find they have additional responsibilities

Jerry Okarma is the vice president, secretary and general counsel of Johnson Controls. He is a member of the company’s executive operating team, and oversees all legal and compliance activities of the company.

In addition, and to the point of this speculative post, Okarma is responsible for shareholder services, enterprise security, and the aviation function, according to an interview on Law360, May 4th.

Noting the unusual responsibilities this top lawyer has for shareholder services, security, and the Johnson Controls air force, it occurred to me that with retrenchment and cost control underway everywhere, with senior executives “choosing to pursue personal interests right and left,” general counsel might increasingly be asked to take on ancillary responsibilities (See my post of Oct. 2, 2006: sometimes shareholder relations are part of the legal department; Feb. 1, 2007: Cummins for security and aviation; and April 18, 2009: EMC’s GC manages its aviation group.). It is unlikely that a non-lawyer will step into the managerial shoes of a general counsel, but the opposite could well happen.

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