It used to be unheard of for corporate executives, much less general counsel, to be held personally liable for crimes committed by a company.
But in the past 10 years, several GCs at companies like AIG, Hewlett-Packard, and World Health Alternatives have been personally targeted in legal actions, according to a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
You may be wondering if this is because corporate lawyers are committing more crimes or throwing ethics to the wind in this bottom-line-driven economy? Or is the prosecution of in-house counsel due to the federal government's renewed focus on holding corporate decision makers (and those counseling them) accountable?
It's likely a combination of both. So if you're an in-house counsel, you should be aware that you may be held personally liable for your company's actions.
General counsel are increasingly being targeted by prosecutors and shareholders in legal actions. Keeping these tips in mind can potentially help you avoid personal liability down the road.
This article originally appeared November 13, 2012 on "In House," The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog.