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Calgary, Canada’s Bennett Jones has become the latest Canadian firm to appoint an in-house counsel. The firm, which has more than 350 lawyers and 495 staff in three Canadian offices, last week appointed Stephen P. Sibold to the newly created position. Sibold is a Calgary-based lawyer in the corporate group. Sibold will maintain some billable work but his main role will be that of an in-house counsel, said Hugh L. MacKinnon, the firm’s chairman and executive director. “The firm will be his client and he’ll do the kinds of things in-house lawyers do for sophisticated corporations,” MacKinnon said. The firm has always had someone in charge of those responsibilities, most recently a managing partner of one of the offices, but this is the first time the position has been carved out, he said. A small, but growing number of Canadian firms have also appointed in-house lawyers over the last couple of years. McCarthy Tétrault appointed Malcolm M. Mercer as general counsel in February 2007. The Toronto-based lawyer is also a partner in the litigation group. The firm has close to 700 lawyers in six Canadian offices as well as one in London. Blake, Cassels & Graydon created the general counsel position in late 2006 and appointed Glenn F. Leslie, who is based in Toronto. Leslie is a partner in the litigation and competition groups. The Canadian firm has more than 550 lawyers in 10 offices in Canada, the United States, England and China. The position of an in-house counsel is more common among large U.S. firms. A 2008 survey by Altman Weil of about 90 firms among the Am Law 200 — a ranking of the nation’s top revenue-producing firms compiled by The American Lawyer, a National Law Journal affiliate — found 85 percent had a designated general counsel, up from 63 percent in 2004. Sixty-two percent of them were in that role part-time, with a 2007 mean cash compensation of about $665,000. Thirty-eight percent held the role full time, with a 2007 mean pay of about $754,000. Of the firms that did not have a general counsel, 14 percent said they planned to designate one within the next 12 months.

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