GM’s Embattled Chief Lawyer to Retire

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/MCT) -

Michael Millikin, General Motors general counsel, will retire early next year, about a year after the company’s costly delayed recall of 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches that have been tied to 27 fatalities.

The 66-year-old lawyer worked for GM for 38 years, the last five as its top attorney.

The company said it would conduct an “external search” for a replacement.

Millikin’s leadership came under scrutiny when former U.S. prosecutor Anton Valukas delivered a comprehensive investigation revealing that Millikin did not know about the ignition-switch defect until February. Valukas revealed that lawyers were allowed to settle lawsuits for up to $5 million without his approval.

After the report, the company fired several attorneys who reported to Millikin, but he managed to survive the fallout.

In congressional testimony several months ago, several lawmakers called on CEO Mary Barra to fire Millikiin, but she said she wanted him to stay on while the company handled the ignition-switch crisis.

“Mike has had a tremendous career, spanning more than 40 years, with the vast majority of it at GM,” Barra said in a statement. “He has led global legal teams through incredibly complex transactions, been a trusted and respected confidant to senior management, and even led the company’s global business response team following the tragedy of 9/11.

“For me personally, Mike has been incredibly helpful over the past two decades. I find him a man of impeccable integrity, respectful candor, and unwavering loyalty. He will be missed. I wish him and his wife, Karen, much happiness in this next chapter of their lives.”