Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Officers

2018 Q1 Fortune 500 General Counsel Transitions

 



Turnover was low among the F500 general counsel population in the first quarter of the year

Turnover was relatively low among Fortune 500 general counsels for the first quarter of 2018, with just 13 new general counsels appointed (vs. 24 new appointments among CFOs and 26 new appointments among CHROs). Three of the 13 are ethnically diverse, while five of the 13 are women. All of the five women were external hires, alongside two of the men. There were six internal promotions in the first quarter, all of whom were men.  

For more information on Fortune 500 general counsels as a group, please see the accompanying table.

For more detail on the 13 F500 general counsels new to the role in Q1 of 2018, please see below:

  • Paul Freedman was promoted internally to senior vice president and general counsel at AES. He previously held chief of staff to CEO, assistant general counsel and general counsel, North America Generation roles at AES before taking over from Brian Miller as the top lawyer.

  • Samrat Singh Khichi has become executive vice president and general counsel at Becton, Dickinson, replacing Jeffrey Sherman, who sadly passed away during the takeover. Khichi is an internal promotion from C. R. Bard, a MedTech organization bought by Becton, Dickinson last year, where he held the role of general counsel.

  • Matthew Cooper has assumed the position of general counsel at Capital One, replacing John Finneran, who has taken on the position of interim chief risk officer. Cooper was promoted from executive vice president for legal, where he oversaw about half the Legal Department, having been with the firm since 2009.

  • Michael Holston was appointed general counsel of General Electric, moving over from his role as general counsel at Merck. Holston, who held the general counsel position at Merck for three years, has replaced Alex Dimitrief. Dimitrief is moving on internally into the role of president and CEO of GE's Global Growth Organization.

  • Karen Patton Seymour joined Goldman Sachs at the start of the year as co-general counsel of the firm, alongside Greg Palm. Seymour joined from the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, where she was a partner and a member of the Management Committee.

  • Rashida Kali La Lande has joined Kraft Heinz as global general counsel and corporate secretary. La Lande has moved over from law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where she was a partner. She has replaced Jim Savina, who is leaving the company.

  • Christopher Gawart has been promoted internally to vice president-law and general counsel at Northwestern Mutual from his previous role as assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. He replaces Raymond Manista, who held the position for nine years.

  • Brian Curci is the new general counsel and corporate secretary at NRG Energy, having replaced David Russell Hill, who held the position previously. He was promoted internally from his role as deputy general counsel.

  • Rachel Gonzalez has joined Starbucks as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, moving over from her role as chief administrative officer at Sabre Corporation.

  • SunTrust Banks has hired Ellen Fitzsimmons from CSX Corporation to lead the legal function as executive vice president and general counsel. Her predecessor, Raymond Fortin, has retired after 29 years with the firm. Fitzsimmons previously held the top legal job at CSX Corporation as executive vice president of law and public affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary.

  • Tenneco promoted its deputy general counsel, Brandon Smith, to the role of senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Smith succeeded James Harrington, who has moved on to Delphi Technologies as general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer.

  • Michael Boxer joined Thermo Fisher Scientific as senior vice president and general counsel in January, replacing Seth Hoogasian. Boxer is an external hire, joining from Luxottica, where he held the role of executive vice president and group general counsel.

  • WEC Energy Group has appointed Margaret Kelsey to take over from Susan Martin as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Kelsey is an external appointment who has moved over from her role as vice president, legal and corporate communications, general counsel and secretary of Modine Manufacturing Company.

By the Numbers

Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed 484 general counsels of Fortune 500 companies, i.e., the companies featured in the June 2017 Fortune list, excluding those that have been acquired, as well as those with no general counsel role. Findings include:

  • Average age: 55.1 years old, with general counsels in the top quartile typically older, at 56.6 years

  • 73 percent of general counsels are male, with minimal differences across each quartile of the F500

  • 71 percent of general counsels hired externally are male, while 74 percent of general counsels promoted internally are male

 

Average Age​Total​Externally HiredInternally Promoted
​FEMALE​53.9​133​70 (29%)​63 (26%)
​MALE​55.3​351175 (71%)​176 (74%)
​TOTAL​55.1​484​245​239
​Quartile Avg. Age (years) FemaleMaleExternally HiredInternally Promoted
TOP​56.634 (28%)​87 (72%)​56​65
SECOND​54.4​34 (28%)87 (72%)​53​68
THIRD​54.2​34 (28%)87 (72%)66​55
BOTTOM​54.631 (26%)90 (74%)​70​51
ALL​55.0​133 (28%)​351 (73%)​245 (51%)​239 (49%)

 

AUTHOR

Cynthia Dow leads the Legal Officers Practice at Russell Reynolds Associates and is also a member of the Consumer and Board & CEO Sectors. Cynthia focuses on general counsel, chief legal officer, chief compliance officer and other board and corporate governance assignments across a broad range of industries, including legal, consumer, industrial, technology, energy, sports and entertainment, healthcare, and financial services. Her clients range from Fortune 500 organizations to portfolio companies of leading private equity firms. Cynthia also works closely with the firm’s Leadership & Succession Sector, taking part in the assessment of legal officers across leading organizations and the delivery of talent benchmarking and succession planning projects. She is based in New York.

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2018 Q1 Fortune 500 General Counsel Transitions