Over the past decade and following the global economic crisis, how have many successful businesses navigated the enormous legal complexities arising from globalization, technological advances, cybersecurity concerns, and ever-evolving and often conflicting regulatory systems? Primarily, by broadly expanding the roles and responsibilities of their general counsel, according to the groundbreaking research of HLS Professor David Wilkins ’80 and the HLS Center on the Legal Profession (which was founded and is led by Wilkins).
What is the role of law schools in preparing in-house lawyers for the challenges they face in a world where they play critical c-suite roles and their law departments are rapidly growing to unprecedented scale? It is to translate the advanced scholarship and research around leadership for application to the real world of general counsel, according to Professor Scott Westfahl ’88, faculty director of HLS Executive Education, which offers the course Leadership in Corporate Counsel every year to general counsel from around the world.
Professors Wilkins and Westfahl engaged with HLS alumni leaders of the in-house counsel revolution in an open, wide-ranging conversation about the challenges they face in their positions, the challenges they anticipate facing in the future, and their perspectives on the roles of law and legal education—and the rule of law itself—in the global business world.