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Widening roles of corporate counsel over five years, according to Deloitte survey

Deloitte’s Global Corporate Counsel Report 2011 shows a chart, based on data from nearly 900 in-house respondents around the world, of the “Responsibilities of Corporate Counsel.” The data pertains to the various functions general counsel oversee. For each of eight areas of responsibility, the percentage of respondents who have the responsibility increased from the figures of a comparable study five years before. An odd pattern, by all means.

The eight areas include five typical ones and three unusual ones. Regulatory compliance, company secretarial, risk management, ethics or whistle-blowing, and department management are commonly the general counsel’s charge, in addition to legal services.

Much less common, and therefore noteworthy for having been included in the Deloitte study are “directorship of subsidiary,” “strategy development,” and “project management.” If “strategy development” pertains only for the legal team, nothing stands out. But if it broadens to company-wide strategy, I am surprised at the increase. The same interpretive distinction applies to project management. To be a director of a subsidiary is a new responsibility for me to hear about. It confounds me why the frequency of all eight roles has increased.

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