The market for general counsel

Dhruv Chand Aggarwal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the first systematic descriptive study of the market for general counsel (GCs) in publicly traded US companies. Using a hand-collected dataset, I track the backgrounds and careers of 3409 GCs, and establish basic facts about the hiring, firing, demographics, and politics of inhouse counsel. Most GCs are outsiders to their companies, not having previously worked in subordinate positions within the legal department or served as external counsel. I find that the share of women GCs has risen sharply over time, with GCs now about five times as likely to be female as chief executive officers (CEOs). GCs have also become more Democratic-leaning over time, in sharp contrast to business-side employees such as CEOs. GC tenures have decreased significantly over time. Outsider GCs are especially likely to be fired from their positions, controlling for biographical details, firm financials, and alleged misconduct by their employer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-940
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Empirical Legal Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Law


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