Legal Business

The rise of the lawyer statesman – A new vision for general counsel

In the closing address of the 2016 Enterprise GC summit, GE veteran Ben Heineman laid out his vision for general counsel as lawyer statesman and charted the revolution remaking global law

I want to give you an overview of my theory about the inside counsel revolution. It is clear it has happened in the US. It is happening to a degree in Europe and in Asia. General counsel (GCs) have become much more sophisticated, capable and influential, transforming law and business in two ways. Inside the company, the GC has become the primary counsellor to the chief executive and board, replacing the law firm senior partner. He or she leads corporate units beyond the law. The role has become comparable in importance to the chief financial officer (CFO) due to the increased global complexity and the rising importance of ‘business in society’ issues. There has been a dramatic change in the skill, the experience, the breadth and the compensation of the GC.