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Why Corporations Are Hiring Attorneys for Board Positions
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Photo credit: Nick Cowie/FreeImages

Summary: Corporations were once wary of hiring lawyers to do anything but provide general counsel, but times have changed, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

Over the past few years, lawyers have gone from being business advisors to do business deciders. So why the change?


While large businesses have always hired general counsel, it is a recent trend to actually hire an attorney to serve on a board or as a leader in the company. The Dallas Morning News reports that this change occurred because of the 2008 financial crisis. For decades, businesses previously loathed the risk-adverse personalities of lawyers, but now they embrace their conservative decision making.

For instance, in April attorney Gary Kennedy landed a board position at the California-based investment firm, Pimco. He was the first attorney to ever serve on the eight-member board. Before accepting his seat, Kennedy retired in 2013 after two decades of working as a lawyer for American Airlines.

Kennedy isn’t the only lawyer to transition to a leader of large corporation. The Dallas Morning News reports that since 2010, more than a dozen Texas lawyers have taken on such roles, which pay on average $177,000 annually.

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Other notable lawyers-turned-business leaders include:

  • Vinson & Elkins corporate partner Mike Wortley joined Pioneer Natural Resources as a director in 2015.

  • Former Continental Airlines general counsel Jennifer Vogel joined the board of Virgin America in 2015.

  • Lawyer Mary Korby joined Darling Ingredients as a director in 2014.

  • In 2014, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher senior counsel Ron Kirk joined the board of Texas Instruments.

  • In 2010, Former Exxon Mobil general counsel Charles Matthews joined the boards of Frost Bank and Trinity Industries.

  • TPG Capital founder David Bonderman serves on the board of  Energy Future Holdings.

  • Allen Finkelson, a retired law partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, is a director at Range Resources.

Source: The Dallas Morning News

Photo credit: Nick Cowie/FreeImages



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