general counsel, take 2

Catherine Aman caman at AMLAW.COM
Wed Feb 4 21:35:10 UTC 2004

Apologies for my semi-illiterate posting yesterday. I am writing an article
touching on the history of the in-house legal department and am curious to
know of any early citations for the title "general counsel." I know that
lawyers in these jobs were at one time (mid-20th c.) referred to as "kept
women" because they were (1) on company payrolls, and (2) their skills were
not generally admired among corporate lawyers in law firms. I suspect that
the word "general" in the job title indicates that these lawyers were
generalists, weighing in on labor and employment issues, real estate
matters, contracts, litigation, &tc. At large businesses with multiple
subsidiaries, the GC title now sometimes does not denote the top legal job.
The new title for top legal dog is "chief legal officer."

In any case, any insight or advice very much appreciated.
Catherine Aman
Staff editor
Corporate Counsel magazine.

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