A chief legal officer’s perspective for in-house lawyers

Q&A with Susan Yashar, Global Deputy CEO and General Counsel

The regulatory attorney who became general counsel. The general counsel who became deputy CEO. Susan Yashar shares her experiences and insights for those looking to learn from her journey to becoming one of Deloitte’s top in-house lawyers.

Reinventing the chief legal officer’s role

Editor’s note: Susan Yashar has retired from the Global Deputy CEO and General Counsel position as of March 1, 2023.

When Susan Yashar joined Deloitte’s Office of General Counsel as a regulatory specialist, she was fresh from a long career in government and private practice. Her presence would bring much-needed guidance to a business that was becoming increasingly globalized, technology driven, and regulated. The audit profession was changing, and the firm was growing.

So was the job of in-house lawyering, although many may not have realized it at the time. Recently, we caught up with Susan to talk about her journey and how the legal function has evolved since Deloitte tapped her to take over as global general counsel.

Reinventing the chief legal officer’s role: Q&A with Susan Yashar, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and General Counsel

Influences and perspective

It’s important to understand who you are as a leader, and one part of that is thinking about who and what your influences are and how they impact your leadership style. For Susan, her parents were an important influence. Notwithstanding her small physical stature, her dad gave her an oversized understanding of how important confidence and belief are to being successful.

Becoming chief legal officer

Ultimately, Susan became the global chief legal officer (CLO) for Deloitte. When asked why she thinks she got the role, she says her experience in the regulatory arena, and its relevance to the firm at the time, was likely an advantage. But more importantly, she says, it was her connection to the business and her proactivity.

Looking back

Reflecting on her time at Deloitte as she approaches retirement, Susan’s thoughts about how she could have done things differently and better are centered mostly on well-being: wishing she’d given herself more of a break and reminding herself to step away from work to recharge more often.

Finally, with an enthusiasm that reflects her father’s persistence and positivity, Susan shares that it’s an exciting time to be a lawyer, and that those who are lawyers should try to remember how fortunate they are to be in this field. “I can’t wait to see the ways in which we’re all going to be changing. I think this is an incredibly exciting moment to be leading a legal department, and I look forward to the next chapter of the story.”

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