Some general counsel wander in the wilderness, sometimes for several years, before they become the top lawyer. Sandy McDade, for example, practiced for 20 years in Weyerhaeuser’s law department. He then left the department and spent six years in a strategic planning role and as the leader of the company’s Canadian subsidiary. At that point he rejoined the law department, but as the general counsel.
The tale of this unusual path comes from InsideCounsel, Oct. 2008 at 90. James Lipscomb, the current general counsel of Metropolitan Life also spent several years in business roles before assuming the top legal position. Other chief legal officers have gained experience outside the law department See my post of Aug. 3, 2005: career of Rosemary Berkery; and Nov. 6, 2005: GC of the Bank of Australia ran its strategy group.).