One of the metrics that came out of a survey conducted by the Harvard Law School Center on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry tells us the provenance of new general counsel. A table from an unpublished article by four authors from the Harvard Center (at 19), gives results from 139 companies in the S&P 500. Actually, however, the figure they cite comes from the American Lawyer 2007 Survey of Fortune 500 Legal Departments.
The internal promotion figure is 56.4 percent, meaning that in slightly more than half of legal departments in the Fortune 500 the new general counsel came from the ranks of the company’s legal department, the remainder presumably coming from another legal department or a law firm. You could view that fifty-fifty figure as an abject failure of succession planning. Clearly, many Boards and CEOs do not think the internal talent pool is deep enough.
By the way, here is the explanation of the S&P 500 (“a committee of analysts at Standard & Poor’s selects the S&P 500 from among companies whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq with the goal of including a representative selection of industries in the US economy; most companies are US.”).