Marc Firestone, the General Counsel of Kraft Foods, said a few words at the InsideCounsel SuperConference about the pressures of being alone at the top. “It is important,” Firestone said, “for the General Counsel to have a mentor outside the company whom they trust – a wise head.” He has such a guide, a trusted advisor, and has found it cathartic to talk sometimes about the difficult decisions that reach his desk.
Some general counsel have a friend; some use a veteran partner at a law firm as the pressure valve and sounding board; others turn to an executive coach; spouses often provide support and encouragement; and some general counsel find guidance and support from a fellow member of a group for general counsel. Whatever, that support can be invaluable (See my post of April 14, 2005: coaches for general counsel; Sept. 25, 2005: no one else but the GC; April 28, 2006: the notion of “social distance”; and March 1, 2009: it’s lonely at the top, so there are many groups for general counsel to join.).