But there are days when the corporate general counsel begins to think that everyone's problem is his or her problem. Your newest product just became your biggest liability. Your boss got caught dipping into the company's ink. Diane Sawyer is standing in the lobby. Eliot Spitzer's office is holding on line one.
In a recent survey conducted by Corporate Legal Times of 50 corporate chief executives, two-thirds ranked "Managing Legal Risk" among the most important general counsel functions.
"There's no doubt risk management is playing a more prominent role," says Tom Corcoran Jr., president and CEO of Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust. "Compliance, litigation and the cost of insurance have forced the general counsel to focus on understanding those parts of the business that drive up costs."
RIMS is an excellent source of professional growth for the legal entity of a corporation. Members save time and money by gaining new contacts, learning about current issues and developing their skills and knowledge. RIMS serves its members as a powerful voice concerning legislative issues, and by advocating the interests of corporate risk management professionals. A calendar of professional development courses, online registration for industry conferences, e-groups specifically hosted for real-time litigation management discussion, and sample risk management documents are all accessible at www.rims.org.
"Executives will look for GCs to have greater sophistication and experience in the management side of law such as compliance systems within organizations that prevent and detect misconduct," says Richard S. Gruner, professor of law at Whittier Law School in California. "That feature is an increasingly important aspect of a high-quality general counsel."