Who Has Been Hired to Lead Legal at Fortune 500 Companies So Far This Year?

This article was written by Stephanie Forshee for Corporate Counsel. The original article can be found via: https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/05/18/who-has-been-hired-to-lead-legal-at-fortune-500-companies-in-2018/?kw=Who%20Has%20Been%20Hired%20to%20Lead%20Legal%20at%20Fortune%20500%20Companies%20in%202018?&et=editorial&bu=Corporate%20Counsel&cn=20180520&src=EMC-Email&pt=Weekend%20Roundup

Among the Fortune 500 companies, turnover among general counsel has been significant so far this year, according to a new analysis from consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates.

In the first quarter of 2018, 13 Fortune 500 companies hired new GCs. Five of the hires were female, and three were people of colour.

“The sample size is really small, but it’s interesting the pace of female appointments continues to be really substantial,” Cynthia Dow, who leads the legal officers practice at Russell, told Corporate Counsel.

Dow noted that only 26 percent of GCs in the entire Fortune 500 are female but that in the first quarter of this year, about 38.5 percent of the appointments were female.

According to the analysis, which covered 484 GCs in Fortune 500 companies, excluding organisations that have been acquired or have no legal chief, the average age of the newly minted GCs is 55.1.


Roughly 73 percent of general counsel in this group are men, the findings show. Seventy-one percent of those hired externally are male and 74 percent of GCs promoted internally are male.

Of the first-quarter hires, there were six internal promotions, all of whom were male. All of the five female appointments were external hires.

The number of top legal leaders hired in Q1 proved to be lower than the number of appointments made by Fortune 500 companies for other executive positions, according to the data. Compared to the new GCs, there were 24 new chief financial officers and 26 new chief human resources officers.


Among the general counsel appointments in the first quarter of 2018 were:

  • Paul Freedman at AES
  • Samrat Singh Khichi at Becton, Dickinson
  • Matthew Cooper at Capital One
  • Michael Holston at General Electric
  • Karen Patton Seymour at Goldman Sachs
  • Rashida Kali La Lande at Kraft Heinz
  • Christopher Gawart at Northwestern Mutual
  • Brian Curci at NRG Energy
  • Rachel Gonzalez at Starbucks
  • Ellen Fitzsimmons at SunTrust Banks
  • Brandon Smith at Tenneco
  • Michael Boxer at Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Margaret Kelsey at WEC Energy Group

GC moves have happened lately across a wide variety industries, according to the Russell Reynolds research.

As for whether the first quarter’s findings are an indicator of what it is to come for the months ahead, Dow said, “To me, it feels like this year will end up being a year of quite high change and turnover.”

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