No alarms and no surprises – Behind the Mindful Business Charter

No alarms and no surprises – Behind the Mindful Business Charter

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”

Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies

Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies

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”

Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

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”

The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s

The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s

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”

No more firsts – Reflections of the first female counsel to the White House

No more firsts – Reflections of the first female counsel to the White House

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”

The medium is the message – GC strategies for riding the media revolution

The medium is the message – GC strategies for riding the media revolution

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”

The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC

The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC

‘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”