Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, Nov. 2009 at 15, says that Peter Solmssen, Siemen’s general counsel has also been acting CEO of its U.S. division since September. I find that dual role troubling.
Practically speaking, how can someone do a decent job in the face of such massive responsibilities?
Legally speaking, what troubles me is that we all know the adage about representing yourself and having a fool for a client. More seriously, doesn’t attorney-client privilege run huge risks if one person splits the role of legal counselor and legal counselee? How can anyone make good decisions about budgets and strategies of the legal department? Solmssen is undoubtedly a very capable lawyer, and many general counsel have been promoted to CEO (See my post of May 26, 2007: GCs report to former GC with 10 references.). It is not uncommon for a general counsel to have held a non-legal position at some point (See my post of Aug. 4, 2007: GCs and non-law positions held with 7 references.). But this concurrent straddle bothers my understanding of checks and balances.