By Joe Murphy, JD, CCEP, CCEP-I
Perhaps, like me, you have read company announcements like this:
“Our company is pleased to announce the appointment of our new Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Mary Lawyer. She will join the team on November 1.”
There it is, the brand new announcement. Wow, she has a lot to do: run legal, run board meetings, and attend executive councils.
Notice something missing in the announcement? Where, in the announcements that you read, does it say: General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary? Time and time again, when I read these announcements, there is nothing about being compliance officer. (I wonder what you would see on the business card – no sign that this general counsel also happens to be the Chief Compliance Officer?)
But for how many of these companies, when you ask, would they tell you the general counsel is, in fact, the compliance officer? Does this disparity tell you something? Maybe the general counsel is not actually the real compliance officer?
Or am I just quibbling about details? After all, they can’t list in an announcement everything the general counsel has to do, right? But that really is the point. If a company and its counsel don’t understand how important compliance is, and how big a job it represents, then they just don’t get it at all.
Of course, you cannot fairly judge a company on one point like this. But if you are looking for important, public clues, this certainly is one. If companies and their lawyers want to believe that someone as busy as a company general counsel really can wear two hats, the least we can expect is that they actually put the second hat on their heads where you can see it.
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