Top GM lawyer to retire in July as successor sought

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s top lawyer Michael Millikin, who GM last year said would retire early this year, will stay on with the company until July, the automaker disclosed last week in a regulatory filing.

Millikin, GM’s general counsel, will retire in July and will be “available for consulting services to the company through 2015,” according to the filing. GM in October had said Millikin was choosing to retire in the first quarter of 2015.

“The search is in great shape,” GM spokesman Jim Cain said in an email.

Millikin, 66, was criticized in congressional hearings in summer 2014 over the delayed ignition switch recall in older Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars that now is tied to 52 deaths. He is one of GM CEO Mary Barra’s closest advisers and has held the top legal job with GM since 2009.

GM in October said Millikin would remain in his position until a new general counsel is in place. GM hired a search firm to help fill the position.

The legal job is highly important to the automaker as it faces investigations by the U.S. Justice Department, 49 state attorneys general, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Canadian officials. It also faces hundreds of lawsuits tied to the defect.

GM fired several employees from the legal department following an internal investigation into the delayed ignition switch recall. It also has set up an independently administered compensation fund for families who lost loved ones and those who had serious injuries stemming from the ignition switch defect.

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