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”

The New GC Toolkit: The discerning customer – smarter procurement

The New GC Toolkit: The discerning customer – smarter procurement

 

In-house teams are using new techniques and recruiting specialists to take a more sophisticated approach to procuring legal services

In April last year, US-based tech services provider DXC Technology was formed following the merger of The Hewlett-Packard Company’s enterprise division with Computer Sciences Corporation. It was the ideal opportunity for general counsel (GC) Bill Deckelman (pictured) to sit down with senior management and establish what the legal function should look like. Continue reading “The New GC Toolkit: The discerning customer – smarter procurement”

The New GC Toolkit: Journey into the unknown – upgrading operations and tech

The New GC Toolkit: Journey into the unknown – upgrading operations and tech

For general counsel (GCs) struggling to manage the administrative and regulatory burdens of the role, a head of operations has become the must-have accessory. In the US, the growth of legal ops is demonstrated by statistics. A recent Association of Corporate Counsel survey suggests that nearly half of all GCs in the US have appointed a legal ops professional to drive transformation, while the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) is targeting a membership of 50% of the Fortune 500 by mid-2019. Our global survey shows these numbers are less representative of trends outside the US, but only slightly. Just under a third (30%) of GCs globally currently have a head of legal operations, while a further 13% are looking to recruit one in the near future.

Aine Lyons was one of the first to take on a truly global legal ops role when, in 2010, she became head of worldwide legal operations at cloud infrastructure provider VMware. She continues to act as VMware’s global head of legal ops in addition to serving as chief of staff to GC Amy Fliegelman Olli. In November 2015 she became part of CLOC’s global leadership team and now leads its European chapter. Continue reading “The New GC Toolkit: Journey into the unknown – upgrading operations and tech”

Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals

Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals

The global M&A market is booming. Bill Mordan, general counsel at FTSE 100 drug-maker Shire, would know. Shire’s board recently recommended a £46bn takeover offer from rival Japanese pharma giant Takeda.

‘Money continues to be cheap to borrow and so it’s still easy to get funding from venture capital, as well as other speciality equity investments in new technologies,’ Mordan comments. ‘There’s a large quantum of assets out there available for acquisition.’ Continue reading “Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals”

Going places: focus on Michelin

Going places: focus on Michelin

Leading a global legal team is a complex role and many general counsel (GCs) could be forgiven for spending all their energy just trying to get the job done. Not so at Michelin. Despite overseeing a legal community of 200 members, comprising lawyers, patent engineers, paralegals and admin staff, spread across 20 countries, group GC Benoit Balmary wanted the team to develop a defined strategy of its own alongside supporting Michelin’s goals.

‘We have the global management team, the management team of the legal function worldwide, which I chair. This is composed of all of the general counsel of the regional teams, and the heads of the biggest domain teams (IP and corporate), and the head of ethics. This team meets every semester and together we set the strategy of the legal department for the coming years,’ notes Balmary. The mission of the legal department, as defined by our management team, is ‘to protect the group against legal risks and to facilitate its business objectives in an efficient, innovative and sustainable way’. Continue reading “Going places: focus on Michelin”

Disruptive tech: Riding Schumpeter’s gale

Disruptive tech: Riding Schumpeter’s gale

Storyteller. Ninja. Scrum Master. Brand Champion. Evangelist. The modern commercial world has created many new genres of work, but sometimes it is hard to know what they mean. As the London School of Economics’ headline-grabbing anthropologist David Graeber once wrote: ‘It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working.’

But, argues Nathan Furr, professor of strategy and innovation at INSEAD in Paris, the phenomenon of ‘bullshit jobs’, as they are increasingly derided in popular culture, is not a simple tale of corporate indulgence, but one of confusion and insecurity afflicting some of the world’s most established businesses. ‘A lot of chief executives are wrestling with a very basic question: what do we do? It just isn’t that obvious what many established businesses’ core activities are anymore. The knock-on effect of this uncertainty is a large amount of internal reorganisation and new roles to “deliver end-to-end customer journeys” and “communicate across silos”. The senior executives I work with are wrestling with the question of how they can respond to the challenge of disruption and continue working profitably.’ Continue reading “Disruptive tech: Riding Schumpeter’s gale”