Point break – The extreme measures of Barclays’ adviser review

Point break – The extreme measures of Barclays’ adviser review

Legal spend is the second-largest ‘cost centre’ for £21bn global banking giant Barclays. This tantalising statement is in the bank’s 2018 Request for Quotation document, sent to law firms ahead of its final panel review this year and seen by Legal Business. The document provides detail on what Barclays describes as this ‘sizeable’ legal spend.

In the 18 months to January this year, for instance, around 35% of its legal budget was spent internally in running an in-house legal department that dwarfs many major law firms at more than 750 staff. The rest was spent externally, about half in the Americas and just over a third in the UK. Continue reading “Point break – The extreme measures of Barclays’ adviser review”

The team in I: The GC Powerlist Summer Reception

The team in I: The GC Powerlist Summer Reception

Nailing the issue of what makes a high-performing in-house function, with the emphasis on operational sophistication, has become the Holy Grail for general counsel (GCs). Following the launch earlier this year of the 2018 GC Powerlist – which highlighted 50 leading in-house teams – we teamed up with headline sponsor Eversheds Sutherland to assemble an audience of more than 70 in-house counsel at The Ned. This featured an informal discussion between our panel of senior lawyers and operations staff working at some of the biggest multinationals. The debate covered the introduction of legal operations specialists, the advance of technology and widening the skills of in-house functions, all geared towards creating more effective and nimble teams.

*** Continue reading “The team in I: The GC Powerlist Summer Reception”

Asia GC perspective – Tencent on the dollar

Asia GC perspective – Tencent on the dollar

When Brent Irvin joined Tencent as group general counsel (GC) nearly nine years ago, the Chinese upstart was already a tech wunderkind, boasting revenue close to RMB20bn. But few foresaw the trajectory it would take from there: with dramatic growth in 2017, the company is now valued at more than $477bn.

‘We have always been about combining social and content, but in the beginning we were more games-focused,’ notes Irvin. Continue reading “Asia GC perspective – Tencent on the dollar”

Special territory: Fintech in Hong Kong

Special territory: Fintech in Hong Kong

‘You have to, to serve these markets, re-imagine how money can be managed and moved, because there’s going to be more change in the next five years in financial services than happened in the past 30.’

Dan Schulman, chief executive, PayPal


Global investment in fintech companies hit an all-time high of US$27.4bn in 2017, an increase of 18% year on year, with the market showing no sign of slowing. Led by China, the fintech revolution has spread across the rest of Asia, while simultaneously gaining traction in the UK, US and Europe. Continue reading “Special territory: Fintech in Hong Kong”

Client profile: Charlotte Heiss, RSA

Client profile: Charlotte Heiss, RSA

Maybe it was the fear of being kidnapped in South America that drove RSA group chief legal officer and company secretary Charlotte Heiss into the insurance business. Or maybe it was catching hypothermia while diving the wreck of bombed Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand. Or maybe it was drinking vodka with aluminium smelter workers in Siberia while trying to do due diligence on a deal.

Throughout her life Heiss has navigated many a challenging situation, stretching back to when a careers counsellor told her she should marry a lawyer rather than become one. So it is not surprising that she admits the insurance industry seemed unglamorous to her as a Linklaters associate when an in-house role first came up at RSA in 2010. Continue reading “Client profile: Charlotte Heiss, RSA”

Client profile: Julie Smyth, BAE Systems Air

Client profile: Julie Smyth, BAE Systems Air

‘My husband has virtually no understanding of what I do,’ admits BAE Systems Air chief counsel Julie Smyth. ‘He thinks I sit in meetings all day.’

Secrecy and security at the £18bn defence multinational is paramount. Its mammoth Warton airfield base, which dominates the village of the same name a short drive from Preston, is classified as a ‘List X’ site, meaning it can hold UK Government information considered ‘secret’ and above. Continue reading “Client profile: Julie Smyth, BAE Systems Air”

Enterprise GC 2018: Tumbling into crisis

Enterprise GC 2018: Tumbling into crisis

Corporate crises are on the upswing. A faster-paced R&D cycle, improved but riskier technology, 24-hour news… the list of triggers goes on. But our understanding of such events has not always evolved at the same pace. We speak of a crisis as a single incident but, in reality, a chain reaction will likely ensue – and no sooner than one element appears under control, another pops up.

A tumble into crisis

Let us imagine a company that is consumer-facing and has a large, warehouse-based workforce. Imagine it makes toys, sells them online and is called ‘Tumble Toys’. Speed and efficiency in dispatching little Billy or Betty’s heart’s desire is one of its market differentiators – its marketing campaign features a gorilla called Tumble, who makes his way through various perils to ‘tumble’ into the child’s house in various amusing ways. As with many companies, Tumble Toys has outsourced warehouse staffing to a third party. Continue reading “Enterprise GC 2018: Tumbling into crisis”

The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams

The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams

‘A good general counsel (GC) should do three things,’ says National Grid’s Alison Kay: ‘Manage the legal requirements of the business, manage their people and manage their budget.’ But as managing the legal requirements of a large business becomes more time consuming, GCs are increasingly finding it difficult to pay adequate attention to costs and staff.

‘In-house is fighting constantly for staffing and budget against compliance, enterprise risk and other areas, and teams are stretched thin just responding to demand,’ says Leigh Dance, founder and president of ELD International. ‘The GC’s time is taken by dealing with board-level issues and often there is no second tier of in-house professionals with the time or experience to implement new technology or make the case for legal operations support.’ Continue reading “The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams”

The New GC Toolkit: The innovation illusion

The New GC Toolkit: The innovation illusion

‘There’s a palpable sense of innovation in the legal industry,’ says Casey Flaherty, founder of legal technology consultancy Procertas. ‘But then,’ he adds, ‘there always has been.’

While heads of innovation are now an established part of the law firm landscape – among the better-known names in this rapidly expanding sub-profession of business development are Derek Southall of Gowling WLG, Bas Boris Visser of Clifford Chance, Kathryn DeBord of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Knut-Magnar Aanestad of Norwegian firm Kluge – their impact on the practice of law is more muted. Continue reading “The New GC Toolkit: The innovation illusion”