For more than 30 years, ACC has represented the interests of in-house counsel in the United States and around the world. Here, we look back at our founding and acknowledge our founders, current and past leaders and members whose contributions have made ACC the dynamic organization it is today.
In the Beginning
On Dec. 1, 1981, Robert S. Banks, then general counsel of Xerox Corporation, hosted a luncheon that would change the legal profession. Conversation ranged from the changing role of general counsel to whether resources available from national, state and local bar associations were adequate for in-house counsel. Those in attendance agreed that while there were considerable resources for lawyers practicing in firms and working in government, there were not enough resources for in-house counsel.
In addition, in-house counsel had very few networking opportunities. Although several American Bar Association committees attempted to address some corporate practice issues, they were neither targeted nor populated by in-house lawyers. There was a very real need for an organization that represented the specific interests of in-house counsel.
Gray Castle, a former general counsel of Xerox, Cigna and The Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, as well as a past partner in major law firms, remembers, "[We needed] a national organization, especially one that would help raise the sights of in-house counsel and provide a unified voice for our profession. It was not until the 1981–1982 meetings, however, that things really got rolling."
The Founding of ACC
A second meeting in 1982 attracted more than 50 in-house counsel, who discussed the nascent organization in further detail. Most of those present pledged to enroll their entire legal department, at least for the first few years, so that the fledgling group would have a sustainable membership base.
On March 11, 1982, the American Corporate Counsel Association (ACCA) was officially born with a meeting at Amfac Hotel and Resort in Dallas, Texas. The first official Board of Directors — ACCA's founding fathers — included:
- Robert S. Banks, then general counsel of Xerox Corporation
- Lawrence B. Kraus, then general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Philip M. Knox, Jr., then general counsel of Sears, Roebuck and Co.
- Carl D. Liggio, then general counsel of Arthur Young & Company
- Stephen B. Middlebrook, then general counsel of Aetna Life & Casualty
- Donald P. Walsh, then general counsel of Sun Company
- Irving B. Yoskowitz, then general counsel of United Technologies Corporation
- Guy A. Zoghby, then managing attorney of IBM
During this meeting, the above officers were elected, the organization's initial membership was counted at 2,400 in-house counsel, and Washington, D.C., was chosen for the headquarters. Bylaws and a charter were composed, and the search began for an executive director. Most important, details about how best to serve new members' needs were hammered out, with education, networking and effective representation of in-house counsel at the top of the list.
Those main tenets continue to anchor ACC's mission today. As the association has grown, so have our interests, scope of work and outreach. In 2003, ACCA became ACC, the Association of Corporate Counsel, reflecting the increasingly global interests of current members and recognizing the needs of our growing membership in more than 50 countries.