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Not safe for general counsel to enter the water

Mark Belnick, the former general counsel of Tyco, escaped criminal and SEC charges. Not surprisingly, he fulminates in InsideCounsel, June 2008 at 54, about the risks general counsel now face. Belnick says “the threat of becoming the target of an internal or external investigation has scared off bright and talented lawyers from going in-house.” I wonder what instances he can cite to prove that statement. No high-profile, high-pay, high-prestige legal job comes without risks, but I doubt that law firm partners, offered the top legal job of a company, balk because of the personal legal risks the position entails.

Later, he states that an “atmosphere of paranoia” in legal departments “has even made some general counsel retain their own counsel – not to consult on issues outside their expertise but to consult on how they should behave to avoid getting in the middle of risky situations” (See my posts of Nov. 10, 2007: survey data about general counsel hiring personal counsel; and posts of July 25, 2005 about the costs of boards retaining independent counsel; Sept. 27, 2005 #3; Oct. 30, 2005 #2; Feb. 18, 2006 #2; Feb. 19, 2006 #2; and Nov. 24, 2005 #3.).independent counsel to Boards of Directors.).

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