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. Here are some tips you can incorporate to avoid liability:
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.