Published on:

Too many faceless general counsel

Schumpter’s column in the Economist, Nov. 14, 2009 at 80, speaks to the “cult of the faceless boss.” It discusses some of the reasons for why there are so many bland CEOs who mouth platitudes, keep their heads down, and make no waves. But it concludes that “the corporate world needs its flamboyant visionaries and raging egomaniacs rather more than its humble leaders and corporate civil servants.”

If blandness besets many CEOs, even more so does it grey out general counsel. A subordinate should not outshine the boss, you might say. But even within the limited sphere of the legal industry, we could benefit from more general counsel with star power who take tell us what they think that differs from the soporific susurrus of tame technocrats. Being a lawyer squashes them into low profiles. As Schumpeter vividly writes, “Few people pay any attention to the identikit bosses who keep popping up to hum their corporate muzak about doing well by doing right.” Where are the energetic, outspoken chief legal officers daring to transform the legal world?

Posted in:
Published on:

One response to “Too many faceless general counsel”

  1. John Ogden says:

    Hi Rees –
    Your “faceless GCs” note did not make the top 10 of ’09 but I found it while surfing some of your other entries.
    Given my association b’ground I will stipulate that this comment my be myopic +/or self-serving but . . .
    Based on the corporate culture w/in which a GC operates, a low profile may be the most efficacious mode of operation. This is where profession associations come in. In fact, if a GC chooses to operate w/in the realm of a professional association(s) s/he may very well multiple the impact of such activities in addition to avoiding the CEO +/or Board’s discomfort.
    Depending on what issues the GC wishes to address/impact there are myriad choices: ACC, ABA, IBA, state local bars, legal section of industry trade groups.
    -John Ogden –
    Executive Director
    Greater NY Chapter
    Association of Corporate Counsel