GCs as influencers: getting your voice heard at board level - an interview with Veta T Richardson, President & CEO, ACC

GCs as influencers: getting your voice heard at board level - an interview with Veta T Richardson, President & CEO, ACC

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.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background …

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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About the author:

Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices. 

As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers.  These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK.  She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors. 

She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.  

Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.