Legal Business Blogs

In-house Round-up: Swiss Re GC to DAC, Co-op’s Gulliford to Pannone, FACT appoints first GC and takes on senior legal team

If it had seemed that the flow of UK hires between private practice and in-house was very much one-sided in the corporates’ favour a recent run of high profile moves has gone some way to evening out the score.

Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) co-founder Jonathan Gulliford has joined Pannone Affinity as a consultant as part of an ongoing growth drive at the Manchester firm’s white label legal arm.

The legal division, which was launched in 2011 by Pannone to capitalise on opportunities presented by the Legal Services Act, provides commoditised services to a range of clients including insurers Allianz and Aria.

Gulliford joined the Co-op from RAC Legal Services in 2006 and was one of the founders of the household name’s legal division. In 2012 CLS became the first SRA regulated alternative business structure (ABS), recording a total revenue of £33m in 2011/12.

Gulliford said of his recent move: ‘With so many opportunities in the legal market post LSA and LASPO the potential for growth is huge.’

The first week of this month also saw Swiss Re corporate and prudential regulation lawyer Adrian Williams (pictured) join DAC Beachcroft’s London office from the reinsurance company’s headquarters in Zurich.

Prior to Swiss Re, Williams was head of legal at QBE European Operations in London, where he established the inaugural in-house legal team. Head of insurance at DAC, David Pollitt, said: ‘Our insurance clients have been telling us for some time that they want their panel firms to be able to service their needs from a corporate/commercial advisory perspective as well as from a claims perspective. We have responded to this client demand with the recruitment of Adrian.’

Williams added: ‘A lot of law firms I was coming across as a GC weren’t getting their service right even now. I’ve always really admired the successful partners in my field and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to apply what I’d learnt as a GC and to build something that was as successful but had my own slant on it.’

The moves come after the FT’s high profile GC Tim Bratton this month joined Berwin Leighton Paisner’s flexible staffing operation Lawyers on Demand as its first practice development director.

Elsewhere, a number of interesting moves between corporates have also been announced this month including The Federation Against Copyright Theft’s (Fact) appointment of former Group Lotus IP lawyer Byron Jacobson as its first permanent GC.

To date FACT has relied on external advisers, including Wiggin, Russell-Cooke and Belfast’s Edwards & Co and has taken on secondees, including Wiggin IP litigation partner Neil Parkes, who was acting GC for six months from 2011 to early 2012 while still an associate.

Prior to Lotus, dual US-UK qualified Jacobson was at Bristol-based drinks group Allied Domecq, having moved to the UK from specialist IP firm Nelson & Roediger in Phoenix, Arizona, and before that Dorsey & Whitney’s Denver office.

Jacobson has not yet been replaced in the legal team at Lotus, which is managed by head of legal services Karen Bloodworth.

In the US, meanwhile, online real estate marketplace has reunited a senior legal team, all formerly together at Yahoo! with former GC Michael Callahan named as’s executive vice president, chief legal officer and company secretary.

Mindy Heppberger and Eugene Lao, who while they worked at Yahoo! were vice president and deputy GC, have joined in those roles. Lao joins most recently from a stint at US social gaming company Zygna having left Yahoo! in 2011. Callahan, meanwhile, resigned from Yahoo! last summer.

While at Yahoo!, Callahan built a legal, public policy, ethics and compliance, and IP department, which grew threefold to 200 under his leadership. He acted as key advisor to the executive team and board of directors through acquisitions, investments and divestitures including the strategic investment and restructuring of Yahoo!’s holdings in the Alibaba Group.