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Through their in-depth knowledge of the law and their business, general counsel (GCs) have a key role to play in organisations.
But is the voice of the GC being heard?
Businesses need a culture in which GCs are routinely consulted by the executive board and given the opportunity to help shape strategy.
Sophie Gould talked to Veta T Richardson, President & CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), about how ACC is advocating for GCs as key influencers of corporate culture and what needs to happen to get GCs’ voices heard.
I started my in-house career immediately after law school, which here in the US is very unusual. I went to work for Donald P Walsh, one of ACC’s founders and GC of Sun Company (now known as Sunoco), an oil and gas energy company. I worked in corporate
securities, finance, and transactions for 11 years before making a transition into bar association management. Even though it was a very different role to move from a multi-billion-dollar oil company to a non-profit association, Sunoco supported my
transition and the general counsel even offered that if I didn’t like it, he would hire me back so long as it was within two years. I was very fortunate to work for a law department with people who were so supportive of professional development
for young lawyers.
I worked at ACC for four years as deputy GC, before being promoted to vice-president and deputy GC. I was then recruited to run another bar association, Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which focused on diversity issues, and served there for 10
years. In 2011, I was selected as ACC’s CEO and that’s the position I’ve held ever since.
If you had told me in law school that I would leave practice to run
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Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community. She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.
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