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As Krebs retires, Canadian in-house lawyers honour legacy

|Written By Andi Balla
As Krebs retires, Canadian in-house lawyers honour legacy
After 20 years at the helm, Fred Krebs has retired from the Association of Corporate Counsel. Photo: Sandra Strangemore

As president of the Association of Corporate Counsel, Fred Krebs has travelled around the world, speaking to in-house counsel. He has found they face similar challenges everywhere.

“We all face common issues; we have common concerns,” says Krebs, who retired from the ACC after 20 years of service at the end of June.

Wanting to confront those global problems through local chapters, perhaps Krebs’ greatest legacy for Canadian in-house lawyers is taking what was largely an American organization and expanding it internationally, with active chapters in Canada, Europe, and Israel, with members in 75 countries. In Canada, the ACC has chapters in Ontario and Quebec, and has plans to expand further. Under Krebs’ tenure, the ACC also grew globally from 7,900 to more than 25,000 members employed by more than 10,000 organizations.

In Canada, Krebs had become a fixture at all major events in the in-house counsel community, including anchoring the annual InHouse/ACC General Counsel Roundtable for the past six years. 

“Some of my most enjoyable visits have been in Canada. I think you have a vibrant and growing economy and the in-house profession in Canada is a leading profession,” Krebs tells InHouse. “I’d encourage you to keep that up.”

At the latest roundtable, held about a month before his retirement, participating Canadian general counsel took a few minutes to recognize Krebs’ contribution.

“We will realize that when you are not in the role . . . that we will lose a great resource, a wisdom, and your experience globally,” said Ken Fredeen, the Toronto-based general counsel of Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Here we are, in Canada, and we need to look outside of Canadian borders. And we get that from people like you, so well done because it has been very, very helpful to us.”

For the ACC as a whole, Krebs has been “an invaluable leader,” says Patricia Hatler, ACC board chairwoman and executive vice president at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. “The entire in-house community is indebted to him for his commitment and his many contributions to the profession and the association.”

Hatler adds the organization can’t “replace” Krebs, but his stewardship has left the ACC “well-positioned to be able to identify the next innovative, strong leader and for an orderly transition.”

Veta Richardson, former executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, took over Krebs’ position on July 1. However, she is not a newcomer to the ACC, having served as vice president and deputy general counsel from 1997 to 2000.

“I would encourage all of to you look to my successor, and look to ACC because there is a lot of wisdom there,” Krebs told the general counsel at the roundtable. “To the extent we have wisdom and knowledge, it is because we’ve gained it from the members and the resources that we have.”

Next, Krebs hopes to do some travelling with his wife, as well as focus on his long-standing interest in photography. He also plans to explore new opportunities, such as consulting, speaking, teaching a law school class, or participating in efforts such as the ACC Value Challenge to promote positive change in the legal profession.

“I very much look forward to continuing my involvement in discussions about how to change the profession by lending my insight and perspectives from 20 years working closely with the in-house counsel community,” he says.