General counsel may find themselves pulled into difficult conversations with top executives as the Securities and Exchange Commission tightens its rules on company insiders looking to dump their stock.

Insider trading has long been an SEC bugbear. But the steady drumbeat of outrage over high-level executives trading on information ahead of the public has ramped up over the last two decades, said securities law expert Karen Woody, a professor at Washington and Lee University. Suspicion that trades were becoming too well-timed led to unanimous agreement at the SEC that it was time to update its longstanding rule under which corporate insiders are allowed to schedule trades in advance.