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BAE international: defence giant rolls out UK cab rank model to Asia and ME

With the UK’s investment in defence broadly flat British defence giant BAE Systems is looking increasingly to the international markets for growth and its legal team is morphing with it.

This month, BAE’s 250-strong legal team, which counts the company’s 100,000-plus employees as its clients, rolled out its UK cab rank model – under which a pool of lawyers is available on a first-come-first-served basis – to Asia and the Middle East.

Peter Cawley, formerly Chief Counsel for India, has relocated to Kuala Lumpur to head up the new initiative, known internally as the legal hub concept, the scale of which will be demand driven according to group general counsel Philip Bramwell.

Bramwell, who introduced the legal hub concept to the UK shortly after his arrival in 2006 as part of a major drive to overhaul the legal department, said: ‘Rolling out the legal hub concept that we currently use in the UK to both Asia and the Middle East will create reservoirs of capability closer to the business in distance and time.

‘Today, with UK taxpayer funded spending on defence broadly flat, BAE Systems will look increasingly to exports for growth. The legal department needs to demonstrate the agility necessary to support that growth, flexing its organisational model to reflect the changing needs of the business.’

The hub model gives often younger lawyers the opportunity to take on a range of projects in different jurisdictions, which can provide additional career opportunities in the business.

Since Bramwell took over officially from outgoing veteran legal head Michael Lester in 2007, he has more than doubled the legal team to 250 and quadrupled compliance to 100, which now sits within legal.

Last month, BAE Systems compliance and regulation chief counsel Mark Serfozo moved to Rolls-Royce as director of risk after nearly 20 years at the defence, security and aerospace giant. Former head of dispute resolution, Joanna Talbot, has taken over that role.