If you graduate law school at 25, let’s say, and work five years in a law firm, then join a legal department, you might become a general counsel at 40. Consider a real person who easily bested that pace. Thomas Sabatino joined his first legal department (Baxter) when he was 27 years old. He became the general counsel for American Medical International in 1993 at age 34. A few years later he took over the position as the top legal officer for Baxter International but left there in 2004 to join Schering-Plough. After leaving Schering Plough when it was purchased by Merck he was recently named the new general of United Airlines.
With five-to-seven years per GC stint, if you are a standout lawyer with fortunate breaks along the way, you can become, like Sabatino at the tender age of 51, a four-time general counsel. But you would not be alone in that distinction.
As impressive as Sabatino’s career has been, at least five other four-timers sparkle on these pages (See my post of June 19, 2006: Mary Ann Hynes; Oct. 2, 2006 #2: Stasia Kelly; June 20, 2007 #4: Marschall Smith; Nov. 16, 2008 #3: Guy Rounsaville, Jr.; and March 29, 2010 #1: Tracy Rich.).