This blog has cited several deputy general counsel (See my posts of Nov. 9, 2005 – Miriam Rivera then of Google; Jan. 4, 2006 – Nancy Anderson of Microsoft; Aug. 14, 2006 – the former chief auditor of Mellon Bank; March 6, 2007 – Mark Morril of Viacom; and April 13, 2007 – William Mostyn of Bank of America.). I also read recently that Lucy Fato has become the sole deputy general counsel of Marsh McLennan.
Some deputy general counsel, whose role is significantly administrative, run the law department while the general counsel focuses on the strategic relationship with the CEO and the Board. In a large department, a deputy GC can have immense responsibilities (See my post of April 15, 2006 in support of this point.).
Another category of deputy general counsel are the heirs apparent to the general counsel. They are the second in command. In structures that include a deputy general counsel, the general counsel often is responsible for more than the legal department, or succession planning is in progress.
Sometimes, title inflation has created positions for “deputy general counsel” but the incumbents do not necessarily stand a step from the throne nor oversee significant groups of lawyers.