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Going generalist: Royal Mail GC delivers legal team restructure

Royal Mail’s group general counsel (GC) Maaike de Bie has led an overhaul of the postal service’s legal team after taking the top job in April.

De Bie (pictured), who previously served as deputy GC and acting group GC, has restructured the team of 30 lawyers into bigger groups, moving away from siloed specialisms such as property or pensions.

There are now four groups: the commercial transactions group, which covers wholesale, retail and property; strategic transactions, which encompasses corporate mergers and acquisitions; labour and dispute resolution; and competition and regulation.

In addition, de Bie has replaced her former deputy GC role with four assistant GCs, one for each of the legal groups. Sarah Draper is the assistant GC for strategic transactions, Toni Lyng is assistant GC for commercial transactions, Matthew Newman has the role for labour and dispute resolution, while Laura Newton leads competition and regulation.

Speaking to Legal Business, de Bie said: ‘I have created larger groups to get people to become more of what I see as an in-house lawyer, rather than simply a property expert or pensions expert. It is very important to have specialists, but I also wanted to have some generalists.’

Although de Bie first considered the concept when she took over as interim group GC last September, she first put the idea into practice when she officially became group GC, as she felt it would have been too disruptive before.

‘Instead of just having one deputy, I appointed four assistant GCs, giving them broader responsibility for wider areas than just their specialism, and that is working really well.’

In addition, De Bie is planning to expand the team by up to ten junior lawyers, particularly in commercial transactions where there is a lot of business-as-usual work that could be done better in-house rather than outsourced to law firms.

For more see: ‘Client profile – Maaike de Bie, Royal Mail Group’