Given the legal tar pits engulfing BofA, you might think that its general counsel would be and has been the right-hand of the CEO. Wrong on both.
Edward O’Keefe, the new general counsel for the bank’s 525 lawyers, reports only to the bank’s chief administrative officer. A sidebar in Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, Nov. 2009 at 69, quotes an incredulous former law department insider: “That’s like telling your general counsel to report to the head of human resources.”
The former general counsel, Tim Mayopolous – now subject to controversy about his role in the Merrill Lynch fiasco – never reported to the CEO. Instead, at first he was under the CFO and at the end of his tenure under the chief risk officer.
I strongly recommend that general counsel report directly to the CEO (See my post of May 14, 2005: most US GCs report to the CEO; and Nov. 30, 2008: GC should report to the CEO.). The situation is different in Europe (See my post of April 12, 2006: UK GCs report less often to CEOs than the 80%+ mark in the US; July 25, 2005: less common for European GCs to report to the CEO; and Nov. 9, 2006: about 40% of European GCs report to the CEO.).