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Why You Might Not Want to be the General Counsel

by Editors on January 28, 2013

In-house lawyer and Above the Law columnist Susan Moon explores why you might not want to be your company’s General Counsel:

A lot of in-house attorneys dream of reaching the top someday. And when they fall short of becoming the Managing Editor for Above the Law, they look to general counsel positions instead. You get paid the big bucks, fly first class everywhere, and get to boss around outside law firms. What’s not to like? I decided to find out.

[Read: Why You Don't Want to be The General Counsel.]

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Been there January 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Having just left the on-house world as GC (doing so voluntarily), let me add the most important downside. If your company is publicly traded, the SEC and investors see you as their representative within the company, and the SEC treats you that way when investigating companies. This is true even though you work for the CEO and need to work with the Board and the CFO. It can create some very difficult dynamics.

Recently, Corporate Counsel had two articles by the former GCs of GE and IBM debating, among the things, whether the GC should be the conscience of a company. Trying to be the conscience of a company can be difficult, stressful and open you to personal liability as well as meaning that you may have to voluntarily resign.

How is being a GC sounding now?

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