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When it came time to hire their first general counsel, Shearman & Sterling’s partners didn’t want to make any risky transactions. With about 3,000 employees and offices in 12 countries, the firm needed an experienced GC. So rather than move a current partner into the job, as most law firms do, Shearman made the unusual choice to look outside the firm, scouring other large professional services corporations. “We thought it made sense to have an independent and fresh look at things,” says Shearman senior partner David Helleniak, “and we wanted to have somebody who was not otherwise engaged in the firm’s business to do it.” The firm found KPMG International 20-year veteran GC John Shutkin. No law firm newbie, the 55-year-old started his career as an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel. Over the course of several months, he and Helleniak � an old friend from Columbia Law School � discussed a position that would focus solely on the firm’s in-house matters. By hiring Shutkin, Shearman follows a growing trend among law firms to appoint full-time general counsel. A February 2004 survey by legal consultants Altman Weil, Inc., showed that 63 percent of Am Law 200 firms have a GC position, and 25 percent of those are full-time. Shutkin says that’s because firms have realized they are large businesses, with substantial internal legal matters. Firms like Shearman “are now of a size and complexity where we need somebody dedicated to [internal matters so we can] free up a lot of other lawyers for client services responsibilities,” says Shutkin. The GC does not expect major changes in his new job. He is still a GC for a large professional services firm that is structured as a partnership, and the two firms have similar legal issues. At Shearman, Shutkin will handle risk and conflict management, compliance, employment matters, insurance, ethics, and litigation avoidance. Shutkin says that with the Shearman position, he’s getting the best of both worlds � the excitement of a new job without the accompanying anxiety. “I feel like a safe pioneer,” he says. “On the one hand it’s new, but it’s also very comfortable in terms of the kinds of responsibilities.”

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