Associates often complain that managing partners are elevated because they are excellent lawyers, whether or not they know anything about running a business.
But what happens when lawyers become CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses? According to Corporate Counsel, it’s more poop on a different stick:
Two lawyer-CEOs who were hired amid fanfare a few years ago saw their tenures end during the past year — each with a distinct thud. Last November, Charles Prince III, Citigroup Inc.’s chairman and CEO (and, earlier, its GC), resigned under pressure after four years at the helm. In January, Michael Cherkasky, the CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (and a former prosecutor), ended his three-year reign. Both were hired to tackle their companies’ ethical crises, and their legal expertise was cited as one of their virtues. They were praised for their handling of the legal quagmires, then hounded for months by investors demanding profits. So much for lawyers in red capes.
That sounds like classic American corporate culture. Making “money” for “shareholders” trumps playing it safe and covering your backside.
In fairness, it seems odd to take lawyers schooled in the ancient art of risk-aversion and then ask them to play corporate craps with the best CEOs.
Lawyers’ first, best use after the jump.