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First general counsel, and astonishing prerequisites for the position

It amuses me to read the hyperbolic standards set out in position descriptions. “Excellent communication skills,” “mastery of PowerPoint and spreadsheets,” “deep experience in taxation,” and other superhuman achievements are routine to post. Thus, I smiled when I read an advertisement by MSC Industrial Supply Co., in the NY Times, April 27, 2008, Business Section, for a “Corporate General Counsel.” MSC Industrial is a $1.7 billion direct marketer of industrial supplies and equipment based in Long Island and it has decided to bring on a general counsel.

After a routine summary of the tasks this first lawyer will take on, the ad lists several qualities the company seeks. “Strong negotiation, analytical and organizational skills are essential”; also essential are “thorough familiarity with local, multi-state, and federal laws & regulations affecting corporations.” That scope is breathtaking and daunting.

But more is expected. “Experience working effectively and tactfully with boards of directors, senior-level corporate personnel, customers, contractors, court officials and international and domestic regulatory agencies is required.” This Michelangelo of lawyers must clear yet another hurdle: “working knowledge of risk management processes, policies & procedures that affect the authority and operations of the corporation also necessary.” This could be a long search.

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