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Starry-eyed images of the general counsel’s expected reach

There’s much more to being a 21st century general counsel than legal ability. Much more, according to Vincent Napolean, General Counsel of Digene Corp., who lists six skills beyond the pedestrian knowledge of law, in InsideCounsel, March 2006 at 14. “In their leadership roles, general counsel are also the guardians of the company’s reputation.” Imagine that!

While they protect how people view their company, “[G]eneral counsel are expected to identify the range of business and legal risks the company confronts and assess their potential impact on the company.” Business risks; imagine that!

Though perhaps I’m stuck in the 20th century, I cling to the belief that general counsel should primarily stick to the lesser solar system of mere law, rather than voyage in such grandiose universes as their company’s image and business risks (See my posts of Aug. 27, 2005 on “reputational risk protector,” Aug. 14, 2005 on the portmanteau term “risk management, and July 30, 2005 on” corporate social responsibility.)