Lawyers as CEOs: A Growing Trend?
Knowing how to sell groceries, fly airplanes or pick up garbage are generally not in the average lawyer’s skill set or on her to-do list. But increased government regulation and the need to navigate international laws and treaties are just two of the reasons more lawyers are moving into the corner office in Fortune 50 companies—including Kroger Co., Continental Airlines and Waste Management Inc.—according to “CEO, Esq.” the cover story in the May issue of ABA Journal.
Nine of the Fortune 50 companies’ CEOs are lawyers, up from three a decade ago, reports author Mark Curriden. As an alternative to an MBA, the skills learned in law school and developed in legal practice are increasingly being recognized as applicable to any industry or profession; one academic calls the JD today’s “renaissance degree.”
“The training of lawyers, combined with the natural instincts for seeing all sides of an issue make them ideal candidates for the top job,” said Ed Adams, editor and publisher of ABA Journal. “Featuring alternative legal careers to young lawyers, students or lawyers in transition through this cover piece helps show the possibilities available to those who are versatile and willing to think broadly about career options.”
Sarbanes-Oxley has driven more regulatory oversight of all aspects of businesses and has forced both in-house and outside counsel to become more intimately involved in all aspects of business operations, according to the article. Most of the lawyer-CEOs profiled were elevated to the top job after holding other non-legal positions within the company, such as CFO, president or COO.
Also featured in this issue of ABA Journal:
- “A Man of Moderation” The last justice of the “greatest generation,” gentlemanly John Paul Stevens says farewell.
- “Aggressive Justice” Judges are tossing high-profile cases in which prosecutors are deemed to have overreached.
- “He Tries Men’s Soles” Tracker Ed Hardin says he can tell the story of a crime from a footprint. But defense lawyers say he’s just making it up as he goes.
The ABA Journal covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession. The flagship publication of the American Bar Association is sent to every ABA member and reaches more than half of the 1.1 million lawyers in this country each month. In addition, its Web site, www.ABAJournal.com, is updated every business day with 25 to 50 breaking legal news stories, features, a directory of more than 2,500 legal blogs, and an archive of the full text of the magazine going back through 2004.