Special Issue • December 2021

Special Issue • December 2021
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The Transformative General Counsel

In-house legal officers are increasingly being elevated to oversee new business operations

In 2021, general counsel proved even more integral to company operations—pandemic planning, vaccine requirements, diversity and inclusion efforts, and more, all had legal repercussions, and thus all fell on the desk of the general counsel. Recognition for invaluable counsel during such times was often rewarded, with in-house legal experts increasingly promoted to new, strategic roles. Over the course of the last year, the Center on the Legal Profession covered this topic in webinars, research papers, and stories in The Practice. We spoke with such transformative general counsels, now acting as presidents, chief strategy officers, heads of communications, and more, to find out why legal training prepares individuals so well for such wide-ranging leadership roles. Read and watch more about the effects of the transformative general counsel below.


Wanji Walcott, general counsel of Discover Financial Services, on leadership in times of crisis

Walcott joined David Wilkins, CLP faculty director, to discuss the changing legal profession, the transformative role of the general counsel, and leadership in uncertain times, in a conversation moderated by Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean of International Affairs at University of Pennsylvania Law School.



Brett Hart, president of United Airlines, on crisis lawyering and the transformative general counsel

Hart joined a symposium on crisis lawyering to to discuss taking charge of a major airline during a pandemic and why legal roles are well-suited to increasingly strategic and elevated positions in companies.



Ralph Martin, general counsel of Northeastern University, on leading legal operations for a university during the pandemic

Martin joined a panel during the crisis lawyering symposium to discuss what it means to be an effective lawyer in uncertain times. Watch Martin and other panelists here or below.



Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs and CLO at Spotify, on the transformative general counsel

Gutierrez joined a webinar a Center on the Legal Profession-EY Law webinar, “The New Legal Function: 360 Degree Insights for Legal Leaders,” to talk about why legal roles are increasingly important for company-wide operations, as well as the strategic considerations for general counsel that prime them for more executive-level roles.



The General Counsel Imperative

In early 2021, CLP and EY Law conducted a major study based on 2,000 interviews with general counsel, business leaders, and contracting professionals across 22 countries. The resulting three reports sought to uncover insights for the future of legal operations. Read the reports below.

1. The General Counsel Imperative: How do you turn barriers into building blocks?

2. The General Counsel Imperative: How does contracting complexity hide clear profitability?

3. The General Counsel Imperative: How can you evolve entity management into effective governance?

The General Counsel Elevation Sensation: Increasing influence in business, government, and society

Looking up an elevator shaft, one sees three elevators skyrocketing to the top.

In Money and Meaning (Vol. 7, Issue 5, July/August 2021), we asked: why are general counsel gaining increasing influence in business settings, promoted to new strategic roles?


Developing an Ecosystem of Service Providers: A conversation with Tracey Yurko

In Law Firm Responses to the Big Four (Vol. 7, Issue 3, March/April 2021), we spoke with Tracey Yurko, chief legal officer and corporate secretary of Bridgewater Associates, to discuss the client’s perspective on how law firms, the Big Four, and other providers fit into the legal ecosystem.

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Special Issue • December 2021 Special Issue • December 2021