The clean-up crew – The rise of the in-house litigator

The clean-up crew – The rise of the in-house litigator

It is a complex world. Globalisation, increasingly interconnected economies, decades of tougher regulation and, yes, frenetic levels of law making across the world mean that getting business right is harder than ever and not all the proliferating risks can be managed.

All perfect conditions for litigators, which is why much of the post-banking crisis boom in legal services has been driven by demand for contentious law, rather than the transactional work that used to underwrite the high-end legal market. Continue reading “The clean-up crew – The rise of the in-house litigator”

State of play – In-house tech perspectives

State of play – In-house tech perspectives

Between the reams of paper (literal and virtual) spent discussing how technology will affect the legal profession and the thousands of legal tech companies springing up around the world, technology is on the minds of in-house teams of all sizes and sectors.

But often what is not communicated is how in-house counsel feel about the technological revolution hitting their profession, and how their teams and businesses have responded, if at all. Continue reading “State of play – In-house tech perspectives”

The Client Profile: Elizabeth Messud, Kingfisher

The Client Profile: Elizabeth Messud, Kingfisher

Living at the home of an ancient babushka. Rubbing shoulders with bodyguards on share acquisition deals. Arranging licensing deals so that The Muppets characters can appear on ice cream wrappers in Russia. ‘It’s been a fascinating and varied 25 years of practice, made deeply rich by the experience of different people and their different ways,’ Kingfisher legal director Elizabeth Messud says. ‘There has been many a modest cliff hanger in all I have done.’

That career has taken Messud from Toronto to a collective farm in rural Russia, to Moscow, then to London, via stints in Spain, France and Switzerland. It has also seen her work for one of the biggest companies in the world, Nestlé, as well as the finance arm of the World Bank, a Russian oligarch and, now, FTSE 100 retailer Kingfisher. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Elizabeth Messud, Kingfisher”

The Big Four meets GCs – The hard sell

The Big Four meets GCs – The hard sell

‘I have never instructed a Big Four firm on a legal matter,’ says one UK general counsel (GC) of a large multinational. ‘The accountants’ legal offering is not something I’m close to,’ concedes Tesco GC Adrian Morris. The respective legal chiefs at The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group strike a similar note: ‘We don’t currently use any of them,’ says Michael Shaw, while Kate Cheetham notes: ‘Our use of these offerings is quite limited.’

Canvassing 20 GCs for this piece – including ten from the FTSE 100 – found only four had used the Big Four’s legal services. Continue reading “The Big Four meets GCs – The hard sell”

Three GC perspectives on change

Three GC perspectives on change

Gloria Sánchez Soriano, head of transformation – legal department, Santander

When our group general counsel (GC), Óscar García Maceiras, joined two years ago, he came with the idea of transforming the legal department. But Santander as a business is also in a huge process of transformation. Maceiras had a concern that we in our legal department in the market – and in many other legal departments – were working the same way as 100 years ago. We have legal databases, word processing, some digital resources – but we were not doing anything special. So the project he envisioned was not only to implement a range of technologies, but to foster a savvier legal department, with fewer pain points and better co-ordination and efficiency. Continue reading “Three GC perspectives on change”

The Client Profile: Sonya Branch, Bank of England

The Client Profile: Sonya Branch, Bank of England

Bank of England (BoE) general counsel (GC) Sonya Branch puffs her cheeks as she ponders how much work Brexit has created for her team. ‘It has been absolutely vast,’ she says.

About 65% of the UK central bank’s legal team, which has grown from 90 to more than 150 since she joined four years ago, has been involved since the mid-2016 referendum in reviewing about 10,000 pages of legislation and tracking 39 statutory instruments, to which it has contributed drafting. ‘The total count was 6,000 pages of binding technical standards, 6,000 rules that had to be changed, as well as 4,000 pages of secondary legislation,’ she comments. ‘That’s just having a regulatory framework for the UK financial services sector that’s fit for purpose on the point of exit.’ Continue reading “The Client Profile: Sonya Branch, Bank of England”