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Listen: Audio of the Panel Tom Mc Coy, executive vice president, legal affairs, and chief administrative officer, Advanced Micro Devices, moderator Craig Nordlund, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, Agilent Technologies Martin Collins, senior vice president and general counsel, Novellus Fred Gonzalez, vice president, general counsel, and secretary, Sonic Wall Tom Mc Coy: We really are blessed today with a great panel. We've come to speak from both the head and maybe more importantly from the heart.One of the things that you're taught even before you set foot in law school is that the law is not about logic. One of the joys of the experience of participating in the profession, because I've now touched four decades, is that it's a wonderful thing to study the law, but the trajectory of the law is always evolving and it's basically driven by facts.It's driven by facts, it's driven by policy, and it's driven by leadership.
And so he said in the environment in which Enron was operating, Ken Lay and his executive team had that same sort of sense, that they probably wouldn't get caught, but if they did, nobody was punishing white collar crime of that magnitude, and so they'd get off and they could move on successfully to another job." Well, as we all know, that didn't happen.
In fact, the house of cards fell, and SOX came out with all kinds of regulations to try to prevent a repeat and to impose accountability on corporate officers, not just the business officers, the CEO, the CFO, the treasurer, the controller, but also general counsel.
Who are we, what do we stand for, who do we stand for, and what's our trajectory as you see it? Joe told me something that I think captures the moment that led to Sarbanes-Oxley.
He said, "Craig, I can explain to you in two words why Enron happened." And I said, "Okay, Joe, I'll bite. " "Winona Ryder." And so I was curious as to why it might be Winona Ryder.
In their efforts to impose accountability…, I think we're seeing a trend line where a giant bull's eye has been painted on every general counsel in America as the guardian of corporate ethics, the guardian of legal compliance, and presumably the all-seeing knowledge base that is responsible for making certain that all things ethical and appropriate happen in corporations.This is reinforced by the rules relating to escalating or up-the-ladder reporting that came out of SOX. Probably where the rule is today is where it was before; it's just been more codified.