Legal Business Blogs

Big shoes to fill as Aviva UK Life GC Risam departs after six years

Widely cited for her role in making Aviva’s highly-regarded legal team a pacesetter for the in-house profession, heavyweight UK Life general counsel (GC) and company secretary Monica Risam has left the FTSE 100 insurer after six years.

Risam  (pictured), who held positions including GC for Aviva Europe and GC for Aviva Group, has served as GC for Aviva UK Life since 2015 where she was responsible for all aspects of legal risk management and transactional activity across the business and leading a legal and company secretarial team of over 60 across UK and Ireland.

Risam also had additional ongoing responsibility for panel management and legal leadership development and training across Aviva’s global legal function alongside group GC and company secretary Kirsty Cooper.

During her time at Aviva, Risam worked alongside Cooper to establish one of the most forward-thinking legal teams in the sector. Their first panel process resulted in £2m of cost savings and the team created a legal leadership development programme alongside a ‘soft skills’ personal impact programme.

Major pieces of work included Aviva’s acquisition of Friends Life for £5.2bn in 2014, a deal which saw Aviva pledge to deliver £225m of annual cost savings within three years of the acquisition, constituting one of the biggest deals the UK insurance sector had seen in years.

After stints as an associate at Dewey Ballantine and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Risam joined GE Capital Solutions as special markets counsel and later UK GC where she was responsible for managing the UK legal and compliance team and providing comprehensive legal support to a $75m net income financial services leasing business.

Aviva was unable to comment on Risam’s next move nor whether a replacement UK general counsel had been found.