Every time you hear about “the problem of career paths” for corporate counsel, you hear that the discontent wells up in part because “there is only one GC position.” The implication is that everyone below that level aspires to topple the king or queen and seize the throne. That regicide is untrue; not even close to true, I believe.
Most senior lawyers in legal departments feel good about their achievements and their balance of home and office. That they would like to earn more money is likely, but that to do so they would shoulder increased pressure, longer hours, loneliness at the top, harsher politics, and tethered on call is unlikely. They have come to terms with their abilities, aspirations, and affluence and would decline promotion to the general counsel position (See my post of July 28, 2008: plateaus and lawyers.).