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In-house: GC Risam draws on experience as Lombard International invites tenders for debut panel

Wealth-structuring company Lombard International is creating its first-ever legal adviser panel under the watch of general counsel (GC) Monica Risam, the former Aviva UK Life GC who moved to the company in January last year.

The panel will cement and deepen relationships the Luxembourg-based company already has with firms such as Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper and Linklaters.Eleven firms in total have been invited to tender for a spot on the global advisory panel, including – in addition to the four listed above – Latham & Watkins, Hogan Lovells, Eversheds Sutherland, Norton Rose Fulbright, Sidley Austin, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and Morgan Lewis.

Risam (pictured), who features in this year’s GC Powerlist , was widely cited for her role in making Aviva’s well- respected legal team a pacesetter for the in-house profession, but left the FTSE 100 insurer in 2017 after six years. She heads up a legal team of 40 at Lombard, which is owned by The Blackstone Group and has €44.9bn assets under administration.

‘I led a panel initiative at Aviva and, coming up to two years in my role [at Lombard], I was keen to leverage that here and create core relationships with firms in a coordinated legal panel,’ Risam told Legal Business.

The panel, which has been divided into two – international and domestic – will run for three years across various practice areas, including M&A, tax, employment, litigation and outsourcing, and firms will also need to demonstrate their commitment to innovation and inclusion and diversity.

Risam added: ‘Law firm relationships are about chemistry. I don’t want to lay down rules about what inclusion and diversity is but show that we’re sensitive to it. We’re also developing tools to manage our documents and seeing as law firms have been using AI, we are keen to look at automation opportunities.’

The international firms approached for phase one will see them advise Lombard in 23 markets, including the UK, the US, South Africa, Hong Kong and Israel.  ‘I appreciate that it’s a large number of markets, so I encourage firms to be candid on what they can and cannot offer,’ added Risam.

She expects to narrow down international advisory work to up to four advisers with a completion date for the panel of January 2020, while the second phase will focus on appointing firms for more national and local legal work, and will complete later in the year.