“Though the role of general counsel will continue to attract senior partners from law firms, companies will be more reluctant to pull executives straight from private practice, preferring candidates with in-house experience who understand how to manage the people and finances of a legal department and how to operate as part of an executive team.” The quote comes from the Harv. Bus. Rev., March 2011 at 66, an article on how the top executive positions in companies – including the general counsel’s – have evolved.
The prediction makes sense and it should not be hard to test empirically. Law firm partners will likely become ever more specialized in their legal work, which makes them less suitable, all other things being equal, for running a range of people, practices, legal issues, and supervisory requirements. Those partners with significant management experience in their firm may still be seen as attractive candidates, but the more favored career path of a new general counsel will have been through another law department or an internal career.