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In high stakes matters, 52% of CEOs involved in choice of outside counsel, and 20% decide

This finding came from a survey of LexisNexis Martindale-Hubble (Counsel to Counsel, Nov. 2005 at 17) to which 635 in-house counsel responded, 461 of which were from the United States. The summary strongly suggests that the “matters” in which CEOs intrude are adversarial, such as law suits, regulatory proceedings, or investigations – “bet the company.” If so, the trumpeted statistics mute to a soft harp’s, since these high risk matters happen only rarely. If a legal hurricane hits, it is not surprising that the CEO steps into the decision on counsel. By implication, for the vast preponderance of matters, the GC or other lawyers make the decision.

Another survey announced that 40 percent of CEOs are involved in selection of outside counsel, but I challenged its ostensible finding (See my post of Oct. 23, 2005 on Dickstein Shapiro’s survey.).