Legal Business Blogs

In-house: BAE air legal head quits for aerospace rival as Lloyds’ legal ops head joins Clifford Chance

BAE System’s longstanding legal chief for air, Julie Smyth, has landed the general counsel (GC) role at GKN Aerospace, while Lloyds Banking Group’s well-regarded head of legal operations is heading to Clifford Chance.

Smyth (pictured) leaves BAE’s air business, where she managed a legal team of 60, after seven years as chief counsel to head up legal, risk, compliance and governance across GKN’s global aerospace business, based in London. Smyth joined BAE in 1998 – when it was British Aerospace – with the air business accounting for about half of the defence multinational’s £18bn turnover.

GKN chief executive Hans Büthker commented: ‘Julie is a highly experienced GC, with significant expertise in corporate reputational protection, compliance and regulation and governance. She is an expert negotiator and communicator, bringing over 20 years’ experience in senior legal roles to GKN Aerospace, as well as an outstanding background in the industry.’

BAE named Stuart Urquhart as Smyth’s successor, an internal appointment. Urquhart will combine his new role with his position as chief counsel for BAE Saudi Arabia. The wider legal team at BAE is roughly 250-strong and is run by the highly-regarded GC Powerlist regular, Philip Bramwell.

A spokesperson commented: ‘Julie has had a long and distinguished career at BAE Systems.’

Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group has lost its head of legal operations, Sophie Schwass, to Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance (CC) where she will be regional chief operating officer for the UK.

Schwass was with Lloyds for nearly three years and was previously director for chief of staff for legal at Barclays, working her way up through various legal ranks at the bank over a decade. At CC she will lead on operational and financial matters, and is expected to play a key role in developing an operational strategy at the firm.

Regional managing partner for the UK, Michael Bates, said: ‘[Schwass’] experiences and insights will be invaluable as we work to integrate new skills, technologies, and ways of working into delivering our world-class legal services.’