Admitting He Had No Law License, Senior In-House Counsel Resigns

A senior in-house lawyer at the New York Life Insurance Co. has resigned after the company discovered in recent weeks that he had never been licensed to practice law.

Michael A. Watson, 44, first joined the insurance giant in 1996 and had been promoted last July to first vice president and deputy general counsel. One of five deputies, he was responsible for the unit of the company's legal department focused on investments, mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions.

In a statement issued yesterday, New York Life spokesman William Werfelman said Mr. Watson had resigned immediately after admitting he was not licensed. He declined to describe how the company discovered Mr. Watson's status. . . .

[T]he largest mutual life insurance company in the United States, New York Life has a 47-lawyer general counsel's office headed by Thomas English, to whom Mr. Watson reported. Mr. English in turn reported to Sheila Davidson, the company's executive vice president for law and corporate administration. The company had $160 billion in assets in 2004.

Before joining New York Life, Mr. Watson was an associate in the New York office of Richmond's Hunton & Williams, where he focused on project finance. He also was an associate at New York's Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, which he joined after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1986.

Details here from the New York Law Journal via (via the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.