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A five-way struggle to entice the general counsel and senior lawyers of major US companies

Five organizations will vie in 2010 to win the favors of general counsel who lead legal teams at large US companies. The competition will be fascinating to watch and whatever the outcome will likely benefit all managers of legal departments.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) leads the field in longevity, brand-awareness, and sheer number of members. The award-winning Docket, its annual conference, and its efforts to lobby on behalf of the industry are a few of its many distinguishing offerings along with its diligent efforts to create chapters and alliances outside the United States. But the other groups must believe that it has struggled to attract general counsel from large companies.

The General Counsel Roundtable (Corporate Executive Board) has for years provided in-depth research and services to its members, who number in the 500+ range. It has recently teamed with Legal OnRamp so that it has a much more robust Web 2.0 capability, access to leading law firms, and Rampers have access to the formidable reports and research turned out by the GCRT. GCRT has also moved closer and closer to one-off consulting, but it remains very expensive.

Global Leaders in Law (GLL) has entered its second year, states membership above 1,000 senior in-house lawyers, and probably has the most global footprint and mission. It aims high – to help lawyers ascend to leadership roles within their companies – and has published a thought piece on the value chain and plans for more benefits (See my post of July 4, 2009: GLL value-chain report.).

Meanwhile, the Practical Law Company (PLC) has expanded from its commanding status in the UK with more than 1,500 member companies to start a US beachhead, which it hopes to expand on the back of substantive legal offerings along with some management-oriented material. Its bread and butter is legal guidance, so Practicing Law Institute (PLI) is more of a competitor (maybe with Bloomberg Law lurking in the background), but it has a platform that can be broader.

The new kid in the fray is the General Counsel Forum (“A legal best practices community”), which describes itself as “a community of nearly 500 general counsel and managing counsel representing more than 325 companies located in Texas.” The quote comes from Inside Counsel, Jan. 2010 at 43, along with the “central mission” of the Forum: ”to provide peer-to-peer exchange of best practices and networking for in-house leaders.” The Forum, under the leadership of CEO Lee Emery, hopes to recruit members and establish chapters outside of Texas during 2010.

A crowded field, and not enough prestige general counsel to go around is all I’ll venture.