The collapse of film giant Kodak in 2012 is already established to many as the definitive case study of the failure of a business convinced its model would last forever. At its peak, Kodak’s share of the photographic film market was more than 80% in the US and 50% globally. So, when a Kodak employee invented the first digital camera in the 1970s, he was told by the board to keep quiet about it. Denial took hold right up until January 2017 when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Reborn as a tiny, niche player with a few lucrative patents these days, annual profits for Kodak now are around $12m.
The lesson? Adapt or die. If innovators stop innovating, problems follow. Just ask Nokia and BlackBerry. This, on a much smaller scale, could be an existential crisis that the legal process outsourcing (LPO) industry may have to face. Continue reading “On borrowed time – the GCs looking for answers in a post-LPO age”
With increasing scrutiny of outside spend, general counsel (GCs) are under mounting pressure to deliver a smooth-running and more efficient machine, as well as effective legal advice. GCs must therefore fine-tune their teams with a discerning eye for quality and economy.
It is a far cry from even ten years ago, when legal heads in the main functioned as a general superintendent of sorts, deploying outside counsel to do much of the work. By 2018, it is becoming increasingly common to see GCs at major plcs running in-house teams similar in scope to top-tier law firms. Continue reading “Precision instruments – the curiously orderly disruption of legal ops teams”
The train puns were inevitable, but it took longer than expected. Towards the end of my conversation with the general counsel (GC) of online ticket retailer trainline, Neil Murrin, he says: ‘It’s a matter of getting people to join us on that journey.’ And adds: ‘Getting people on the right track and all that.’
Coming from a family of medics, Murrin was intent on avoiding a career in health services. He cites his earliest interest in law as originating from seminal-yet-cheesy drama series L.A. Law, in addition to the influence of his solicitor uncle. He recalls: ‘I’ve always been interested in economics and companies. There was an understanding that law gives you a good training in those areas and could move you towards the company side.’ Continue reading “Client profile: Neil Murrin, trainline”
Earlier this year, Legal Business ventured north of the border to highlight the community of commercial counsel flourishing in Scotland in an extended feature. To follow up, this autumn we teamed up with Addleshaw Goddard to gather a panel of senior general counsel (GCs) at Edinburgh’s Signet Library in Parliament Square to debate a range of related issues to an audience of over 60 in-house counsel. With Brexit on the agenda, a changing legal profession and Scotland’s economy striving to reinvent itself for an increasingly-globalised age, there was plenty to talk about.
Alex Novarese, Legal Business: In recent years, the Scots economy has tracked a little behind the UK. How confident are people feeling now in a turbulent time for business? Continue reading “Northern exposure – The Scots GC debate”
Look out law schools, there is a disrupter in town. Naturally, that town is Silicon Valley, the home of innovation. And the innovator in question is University of California Berkeley, which includes a leading US law school, renowned for its prowess in technology and IP.
It might seem natural that Berkeley Law’s proximity to the Bay Area tech hub would lead to an inventive approach to legal education. This idea certainly drew Hannah Porter, a former entrepreneur, to enrol at Berkeley Law in 2015. Continue reading “Fresh starts – inside the pioneering US school training lawyers on the start-up community”
You wouldn’t mistake a lawyer for a designer. One is usually armed with a pen and a rulebook, the other with a Mac and a black turtleneck. Right? Wrong.
Design concepts have been around in business for decades. Global design consultancy IDEO, famous for creating the iconic first Apple mouse, is often credited as being the first to reposition design from a ‘beautiful wrapper’ around a previously developed concept, to a system for creating ideas that can be applied not just to processes, but systems and even organisations. Continue reading “Back to the drawing board”
Speaking at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum recently, renowned industry futurologist Richard Susskind accused the UK’s law schools of being stuck in the 1970s, preparing graduates to undertake work that will become increasingly uncommon while failing to train aspiring solicitors in the new technologies that will replace much of the work lawyers now do.
He has a point. Dutch start-up Clocktimizer recently compiled a list of legal tech courses available in English – of the 37 courses currently being offered, just four are taught in the UK (one of which, the Legal Geek Hackathon, is delivered extramurally). Continue reading “Education, education, education – the struggle to find quality GC training”
The general counsel of the Scots-based investment giant reflects on the lessons of the financial crisis and what it takes to run a FTSE 100 legal team
Rushad Abadan always knew what he wanted to do with his life. ‘I always fancied the idea of being a lawyer, even at school. I was one of those people who was very clear about their career path early on. Happily for me it worked out.’ Continue reading “Client profile: Rushad Abadan, Standard Life Aberdeen”
As expected – or feared – implementing the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a mammoth task for some companies. ‘It is all-encompassing,’ says Karen Kerrigan, chief legal officer at equity crowdfunding firm Seedrs. ‘The advantage of being a small business is that you can involve all the other departments. Frankly, I would be terrified of GDPR if I was at a large business, because you have to take a much more decisive risk-based approach in terms of what you are physically able to look at. We were able to sit down with our development team, our marketing team and our investments team, and go through every single one of their activities and the service providers they were using.’
To say GDPR will have wide implications for in-house teams is an understatement. It is unlikely that there will be any client or any part of a client’s business that will remain unaffected by the EU regulation, which has a deadline for implementation of 25 May 2018. Continue reading “The new front”
‘For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.’
John F Kennedy
When President John F Kennedy stood before Rice University on 12 September 1962 and boldly declared that not only would the US be the first country to land on the moon, but they would do it before the end of the decade, he captured the imagination of a generation. Continue reading “The new space race”