‘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”
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”
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”
Any lawyer of a certain vintage can recall the dawn of the BlackBerry age, the watershed moment at the turn of the Millennium that meant you could always be on call. It was a blessing and a curse.
But the initial freedom of being able to work anywhere at any time has become a crippling 24/7 expectation for some, with the inability to ‘switch off’ being an oft-cited issue. Continue reading “No alarms and no surprises – Behind the Mindful Business Charter”
When looking for good in the world, corporate governance law is not the most obvious place to train your eye. However, there is a sizeable band of corporations – thousands, in fact – who have opted to start just there, using corporate governance as a springboard to the greater good.
Shareholder primacy, often cast as the villain in corporate scandals or blinkered business decisions, operates on the theory that the job of directors and management is to maximise returns to investors. In turn, corporate law is traditionally viewed as a contract between corporations and investors that the company will, in the balance of law, deliver the highest return. Continue reading “Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies”
I have always been attracted to public service. A number of my colleagues from my time at Gibson Dunn had gone on to serve as solicitors general in state attorney generals’ offices. Those offices provide unparalleled opportunities, such as the chance to argue appeals and challenge areas in which the federal government has exceeded its powers and placed onerous regulatory requirements on the state. So I was very grateful to have been offered the opportunity to work in the West Virginia solicitor general’s office.
In 2017, I became the general counsel (GC) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I am primarily responsible for two components – reviewing Commission rules and orders to ensure they are legally sustainable, and defending those actions in court. I also oversee units that deal with fraud and bankruptcy issues, as well as various internal issues like employment matters. In West Virginia, I supervised four or five attorneys at any given time. Now, I oversee a team of more than 70 lawyers, so I’ve had to focus a lot more on learning how best to allocate my time and how best to delegate. Continue reading “Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission”
Chicago-born Christine Dekker’s decade-long run as legal counsel for McDonald’s has seen her relocate from the US to Shanghai for work in 2014 on a gamble that paid career dividends, ultimately earning her the role of general counsel (GC) for the UK and Ireland three years later.
As vice president-GC for the restaurant chain’s Chinese market, Dekker had played a prominent role in handling the sale of a $2bn equity interest in the China and Hong Kong business to strategic investors. In Shanghai she ran a team of 23 lawyers but also found time to travel to smaller Chinese cities, not to mention visit the odd local potato farm. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s”
There can be few legal roles in the US of as much significance and substance as White House counsel. And when Beth Nolan jettisoned film school for law school, she had no idea her eventual career, including serving as White House counsel for President Bill Clinton – the first female to take on the role – would be almost the stuff films are made of.
But the path to what could be termed the ultimate general counsel (GC) role was not an obvious progression for Nolan. Eschewing private practice thanks to an interest in administrative law, she found herself as a junior attorney with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), tasked with working on government ethics. Continue reading “No more firsts – Reflections of the first female counsel to the White House”
Since the advent of the printing press in 1440, when Johannes Gutenberg’s invention for the first time allowed information to be disseminated at scale, mass communication has been an instrumental tool for human progress. The printing press laid the foundations for the plethora of media we see today, but modern media and communications are in the midst of another seismic shift.
As printed materials give way to digital distribution, traditional forms of broadcast media are facing profound upheaval – with the dominance of ‘linear’ television and radio being challenged by new streaming services. Continue reading “The medium is the message – GC strategies for riding the media revolution”
‘Before university I spent a year working in India in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, teaching English, maths and personal hygiene,’ Hugh Pugsley, general counsel (GC) for HSBC’s UK banking and insurance businesses, casually slips in at the end of the interview.
Although his days of reading the complete works of Hector Hugh Munro (‘Saki’) to indulge his love of travel books are behind him, he admits: ‘I still love being transported into another world’. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC”