Thomas Sabatino, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Walgreens, shared his thoughts on what the future holds for corporate lawyers during his presentation at the 2014 Chief Legal Officer Leadership Forum in New York on March 4. In his presentation, “Where Are We and Where Are We Going: Perspectives from a Seasoned General Counsel,” Sabatino explained that the world of the corporate lawyer has improved over the past few years, and it is likely to continue to improve in the near future.
According to Sabatino, the modern version of the general counsel was created in the 1990s. Sabatino noted that more organizations today are developing and promoting lawyers from within, a trend that is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. In addition, Sabatino acknowledged that many general counsels were once judges, Department of Justice officials and managing partners from law firms, and many of these general counsels enjoy their work: “Not to say that all GC jobs are great – we have some bad bosses and we have some bad situations, but when I talk to my brethren in law firms, and I talk to them a lot, I would say that we are definitely on the happier side of that equation.”
General counsels wear many hats, Sabatino said, and they are valuable contributors to organizations across the globe. Meanwhile, Sabatino noted that a general counsel should help an organization’s leaders make their decisions and understand how his or her organization operates: “It means you have to know the business, how it ticks, where things can come off the rails. You have to invest the time and energy to truly understand how your company operates.”