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Monday, September 3, 2012

Strategic CSR - Chief Legal Officer

The article in the url below from The Economist contains an interesting profile of the Chief Legal Officer:

ONCE upon a time, in-house corporate lawyers were dismissed as plodders. Partners at law firms make far more money. Only someone who couldn’t hack it as a legal brain-for-hire would seek the dull security of a salaried job, people assumed. But the power of in-house lawyers has grown hugely in the past ten years. The chief legal officer (CLO) is now one of the mightiest figures in the C-suite.

Given the profile’s emphasis on compliance, particularly regarding ethical issues, the CLO’s responsibilities appear remarkably similar to those of the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer or CECO (Case-study: Ethics and Compliance Officers, p336)!

A CLO must be independent. But unlike outside lawyers, his financial future depends on just one client: his employer. He must protect the company’s reputation with customers, suppliers, journalists and non-governmental organisations. And he must do more than merely tell managers what they can get away with. As Susan Hackett, a former director of the Association of Corporate Counsel, says: “Most lawyers will look at legal rules and say: ‘Here are the ways you can do it.’ A good [general counsel] says: ‘Of course it’s legal, but it’s stupid.’” Diplomacy is as important as legal analysis in delivering this message.

Put another way, how long before the CLO position is renamed the CECO?

Take care

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A Guardian and a Guide
Chief Legal Officers have more power than ever before
By Schumpeter
The Economist
April 7, 2012