Cynthia Dow, a member of the Legal, Government and Regulatory Affairs Practice at Russell Reynolds
Succession planning for general counsel today is no longer a necessary evil of business; it's evolved into a risk management function as the role of GC has become a more central component of board-level strategy.
Eileen Kamerick, chief financial officer at Press Ganey Associates—who also serves on the boards of Westell and Associated Bancorp—likens succession planning to a prenuptial agreement: when couples plan for the day they don't expect will ever come and their proactivity can help them navigate turbulent and emotional tides.
Potential successors not only need to be groomed, but must have adequate to the board so the GC candidates have a good sense of corporate governance and the board and CEO can have confidence in that person, notes Dow.
Readiness and continuity
Another issue to consider in a succession plan is readiness and retention risk. If a potential successor to the GC is considered ready, the sitting GC needs to transparently implement ways to help him or her grow by providing additional opportunities within the organization.