21 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 465 (2008)
General Counsel in the Age of Compliance: Preliminary Findings and New Research Questions

handle is hein.journals/geojlege21 and id is 469 raw text is: 






General Counsel in the Age of Compliance:
Preliminary Findings and New Research Questions


TANINA ROSTAIN*

                                 INTRODUCTION

   During the last three decades, the star of corporate general counsel has risen.
 Taking a position as general counsel of a corporation was once considered a
 respectable exit strategy for lawyers who had been passed over for partnership.'
 Today the office attracts well-known partners from elite corporate firms, typically
 caries a senior title within the corporate hierarchy, and is associated with
 significant prestige within the legal profession.2 Whereas in an earlier epoch,
 general counsel functioned as de facto conduits of work to outside counsel-
considered the true legal advisors to the corporation-they are now in charge of
deciding what work should be handled inside their expanding legal departments
and which firms should be retained for the remaining matters that are
outsourced.3
   Despite the increased prominence of the lawyers who run the legal depart-
 ments at major corporations, surprisingly little is known about their work.
 Corporate counsel organizations, such as the Association of Corporate Counsel,
 routinely survey their members to determine what issues are pressing and
 develop a shared agenda for action.4 Consulting firms also produce research on
 corporate legal departments, which they sell to general counsel (GC) interested
 in improving their operations, or to law and consulting firms eager to figure out
 how general counsel are allocating the substantial dollars budgeted to legal
 services.5 These data can provide an overall picture of the growth of legal


   * Professor of Law, New York Law School. Copyright  Tanina Rostain, 2008. This research is supported by
 the Working Group on the Legal Profession, an initiative sponsored by the Indiana Law School, the American
 Bar Foundation, and American Legal Media, and by New York Law School. Thanks to Kathleen Barlow,
 Elizabeth Chambliss, Scott Killingworth, Christy Monier, Mitt Regan, and Ann Straw for helpful discussion and
 suggestions on an earlier draft. Thanks especially to Kathy Mikk for her superb research assistance.
   1. See, e.g., Abraham Chayes & Antonia H. Chayes, Corporate Counsel and the Elite Law Firm, 37 STAN. L.
 REv. 277 (1985).
   2. See, e.g., JOHN P. HEINZ Er AL., URBAN LAWYERS: THE NEW SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF THE BAR 297-98 (2005).
   3. MARC GALANTER AND TOM PALAY, TOURNAMENT OF LAWYERS: THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE BIG LAW
 FtM 49-50 (1991).
   4. See, e.g., Susan Hackett, Inside Out: An Examination of Demographic Trends in the In-House Profession,
 44 ARIZ. L. REV. 609 (2002).
   5. See, e.g., The General Counsel Roundtable, https://www.gcr.executiveboard.comlPublic/AboutUs.aspx
 [last visited Mar. 31, 2008]; Altman Weil, Inc., Corporate Law Departments, available at http:fl
 www.altmanweil.com/index.cfm/fa/s.home/services.cfm#LawDepartmentPractice [last visited Mar. 31, 2008];

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