For several years I have shown a slide during speeches that estimates the percentage of time general counsel spend (1) serving the Board, CEO and peers, (2) handling their own legal work, (3) guiding other lawyers in-house on substantive legal matters, and (4) running the legal department (See my post of Dec. 16, 2005: gives time estimates.). I recently asked Cheryl Solomon, general counsel of the Gucci Group, about her allocation of time between those categories.
For serving up and across, she thought it is “more like 50 percent of my time” because the matters she works on almost always involve a peer executive or higher.
Solomon made a point that I had not considered in my estimates of general counsel time. She also has global responsibility for compliance and records retention so she is often involved in enterprise-based work (and estimated 20-30% of her time).
She estimated that she spends 20 percent of her time meeting with or reviewing the work of other internal lawyers. Legal department management consumes around 10 percent, of which planning for and participating in the annual legal retreat accounts for a lump of that.