Qwest General Counsel Rich Baer Launches a Blog

Rich Baer

Rich Baer, general counsel and chief administrative officer at Qwest Communications, has launched Reliance On Counsel, a blog devoted to “tips, tech, theories and tall tales of an accidental general counsel.”

Baer will use the blog, he writes, to discuss such issues as:

  • The leadership and strategic issues with which general counsel are currently grappling.
  • Outside counsel as viewed through the lens of a crusty corporate client.
  • Areas for innovation in the practice of law.

Baer refers to himself as an “accidental general counsel” because, as he puts it, “I literally fell into this position; it was not one I sought nor, initially, one for which I was particularly qualified.” After Baer was named GC in 2002, Ashby Jones wrote in Corporate Counsel magazine:

The search for a new GC at Qwest Communications International Inc. ended on an unexpected note last November. Rather than tap a battle-tested outsider to guide the telecom through its mounting problems, CEO Richard Notebaert gave the top legal job to Richard Baer, a relatively green in-house attorney.

Even if it was considered a surprising choice, it turned out to be the right one. Among the accolades Qwest’s law department earned under Baer’s leadership were to be named Law Department of the Year in 2008 by Corporate Counsel magazine, an Employer of Choice in 2009 by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and one of the Ten Most Innovative Law Departments in 2010 by Inside Counsel magazine.

Baer only has two posts up so far, but it is telling that he titled his first post, You Are Never As Smart As You Think. It is about the importance of GC fostering an environment where their staff and their outside counsel feel free to express disagreement and ask for clarification without fear of “getting their head lopped off.”

It is perhaps fittingly ironic that the magazine that the magazine that reported on Baer’s “unexpected” selection as Qwest GC is now his collaborator in launching this blog. Once or twice a week, posts from Baer’s blog will be featured on the Corporate Counsel website.