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General Motors Co. has gone outside the company in hiring a new general counsel.

GM Thursday named Craig Glidden to the position; it announced in October that General Counsel Michael Millikin would retire in July, and that it would search beyond its current staff for his replacement.

Glidden, 57, will begin March 1, leading GM’s team of staff attorneys spread over more than 30 countries.

He was hired from LyondellBassell Industry, where he was executive vice president and chief legal officer. LyondellBassell Industries is a plastics, chemicals and refining company.

Glidden oversaw the company’s global legal, communications, government affairs and compliance groups. He’s also worked at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and in private law practice.

Millikin was harshly criticized in congressional hearings last summer over the delayed ignition switch recall in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars now tied to 56 deaths. GM CEO Mary Barra stood by Millikin at that time, saying she had no plans to fire him. He has been one of her closest advisers and has held the top legal job with GM since 2009.

Barra fired 15 employees in 2014 after an internal probe asserted that lawyers and engineers didn’t respond quickly enough to evidence the vehicles had a potentially deadly defect.

The legal job is critical to the Detroit 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 must defend itself against hundreds of lawsuits tied to the ignition switch defect.

“Craig Glidden has had a distinguished career managing complex legal issues around the world, and his broad legal and senior management expertise fits perfectly with our strategic priorities and plans for global growth,” Barra said in a statement.

GM said in a regulatory filing that Millikin will be available for consulting through 2015.

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

Melissa Burden contributed.

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