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Perspectives

The risk-aware Chief Legal Officer

Tough challenges promote legal’s role

As a B2B, B2C, and public service leader, Vanessa Allen Sutherland, EVP Government Relations and Chief Legal Officer at Norfolk Southern Corporation, knows a thing or two about how organizations can be compliant with laws and also about the nuances of policymaking. In our latest CLO track podcast, she talks about the dual responsibility corporate lawyers have—to ask difficult questions to keep their own house in order and to have a pulse on the threats that can harm the organization’s market reputation.

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Where legal and business converge

In this podcast episode Vanessa shares her diverse and inspirational career journey and how she approached each new role as it came her way. Throughout a career spanning emerging industries and her pivot to public service, she’s navigated tumultuous environments and built her brand as a fixer. In every role, she’s deepened her connection to the constituencies she serves and her acumen as in-house counsel.

 

Lawyers are no longer, I think, able to cloak themselves in 'well that's a legal decision and that's a business decision.' When you're in-house, they're really all risk management decisions that converge and some things have more of a business foundation or more of a legal foundation. But at the end of the day, you are a risk assessor.

Transcript

Lori Lorenzo: Welcome to Resilient. I'm Lori Lorenzo, Deloitte’s research and insights director for our Chief Legal Officer program, and co-host of the Chief Legal Officer Track of this podcast series.

About a year ago, I hosted my first podcast and I have to say, I’m hooked. It’s one of my favorite roles at Deloitte. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with some incredibly dynamic legal leaders and hearing some amazing stories.

Reflecting back, there are a few common threads. There’s a strong sense of purpose. A call to serve. Natural curiosity, the ability to listen and advise wisely.

The trend continues with today’s guest, Vanessa Allen Sutherland, EVP Government Relations and Chief Legal Officer at Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Vanessa Allen Sutherland: "Lawyers are no longer, I think, able to cloak themselves in 'well that's a legal decision and that's a business decision.' When you're in-house, they're really all risk management decisions that converge and some things have more of a business foundation or more of a legal foundation. But at the end of the day, you are a risk assessor."

Lori Lorenzo: I hope you enjoyed this preview. You can listen to the full episode on your favorite podcast app. You can also tune into the full episode on Apple podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Amazon music, Spotify, or wherever you go to get your podcasts.

If you're curious about legal leadership and trends that are impacting today’s in-house counsel, I encourage you to visit our Chief Legal Officer program site on deloitte.com.

Until next time, stay safe and remain resilient.

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For more in the series, visit the Resilient podcast library page.

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