Corporate Counsel – Industry News

An Exit Interview With DuPont GC Tom Sager

Law firm preferred providers. Alternative fees. Diversity. If you want to bone up on most of the innovations in the modern American legal department, just Google the name “Tom Sager” and follow the links. Sager has been the consummate corporate and general counsel. Sager is an institution, and as close to an in-house icon as can be (his closest reputational equal could be Ben Heineman, formerly of General Electric Co.). After holding various in-house jobs at E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. in Wilmington, Sager became the company’s litigation chief in 1998 and was promoted to general counsel in 2008. But even icons need to take a break. So Sager is retiring in August, ending a decades-long career at DuPont. Editor in chief Anthony Paonita interviewed Sager soon after his retirement was announced. An edited version of their conversation follows. [Read more…]  

Minority GCs Want More Diversity From Outside Counsel

General counsel for BMO Financial Group, Gap Inc., NBCUniversal Inc. and Showtime Networks Inc. on Thursday lamented the lack of diversity at law firms, calling on outside counsel to do more to increase the number of minorities and women in their ranks. Speaking at the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s annual Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference in Washington, D.C., general counsel Jeff Ellis of BMO, Michelle Banks of Gap, Kimberley Harris of NBCUniversal and Gwen Marcus of Showtime said diversity matters at their companies—and it’s a factor they consider when they hire outside firms. [Read more…]  

McCain Foods loses in-house counsel to Cognition

After eight years as in-house counsel at McCain Foods Ltd., Tyler Langdon has left the company to establish an Atlantic Canadian presence for alternative legal services provider Cognition LLP. Langdon, based in Simonds, N.B, left McCain effective July 1. He and his wife Andrea Langdon, who was in-house counsel at Barrett Corp. and Xplornet, will operate the Cognition eastern affiliate. “It was a hard decision for me to leave McCain,” Langdon tells InHouse. “I really liked my team — they were absolutely wonderful, but the Cognition model is one I have come to really believe in.” [Read more…]  

GM’s GC and Some Theories of Culpability

The role of General Motors Co. general counsel Michael Millikin in the deadly ignition-switch events should be a subject of intense interest and close scrutiny for lawyers working in, or for, complex corporations. But the recent, and I think overly simplistic, comments of prominent attorney John Quinn detract and do not add to a practical discussion about the responsibilities of general counsel. Anton Valukas’ report on the controversy blamed lawyers, including senior ones, in the GM legal department for the company’s manifest failings to investigate properly and resolve quickly the ignition-switch problems that caused death and injury. Although some in-house lawyers at GM were fired, the report concluded that GC Millikin did not learn of the problem until early this year. But that hardly ends the discussion about the possible culpability of the company’s top lawyer and whether that culpability should lead to his separation from the company, a matter of paramount importance for those with legal leadership responsibility. [Read more…]  

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