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Different reporting lines for UK heads of legal than for US general counsel

In February 2003, Legal Director and Baker & McKenzie questioned more than 100 heads of legal and general counsel at leading multinational companies with operations in Europe. The summary of findings has a number of intriguing points on reporting lines (See my post of April 12, 2006, for their findings on other views.)

Two out of every five heads of legal “aspire to be a legal director sitting on the board.” Some five percent have ambitions to be the CEO (See my post of Jan. 27, 2006 about GC promotions and April 10, 2006 with Morsel 21.), while four percent would like to become the company secretary. In contrast, in the US, around three-quarters of all US GCs are also the corporate secretary. Very few GCs on this side of the Atlantic are on the Board of Directors of their company

One third of these heads of legal sit on their company’s management committee, which is a much lower percentage than a similar group of big-company GCs in the US would report.

Half of these heads of legal report to the CEO, ten percent to a board member, eight percent to a CFO, eight percent to a general counsel (which may explain the low figure for seats at the executive committee table) and seven percent to the company secretary. In the US, over 80 percent of GCs report to the CFO; I know of none that report to a Board member except for specific compliance relations and none that report to the corporate secretary.

Almost four in ten were also the company secretary. If they were not, the role is filled by a “trained company secretary (57%), followed by another lawyer (22%) or the finance director (14%). There isn’t a US counter-part to the non-lawyer “trained company secretary.”

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