In a Q&A for Today's General Counsel, White & Case partner Kevin Bolan speaks to senior counsel Ira Raphaelson about key learnings from his time serving as general counsel of two public companies.
Raphaelson notes: "Five concepts guided me when I was a general counsel. One, business judgments are for business people. Good lawyers try to help sharpen those judgments through risk management. Two, the medieval map of the "known" flat earth had dragons at the ends of the world. Good lawyers help business people avoid the dragons. Three, you need a seat at the table. If you don't develop clients within your business—finding out what they do, asking questions about why they do it that way, and inviting them to ask you questions—then you can't understand where the dragons are. Four, speak truth to power, but without a big audience. Advising the boss is different than challenging the boss. You have to want to do the job more than you want to keep it, even more so post-Sarbanes-Oxley. Five, risk management is art, not science. It is definitely more than some stoplight-colored flow chart."
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