Legal Business

Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch

Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch

General counsel and other senior in-house lawyers should not be afraid to show their human side when leading their teams through crises and seeking to deliver on business objectives, prominent figures in the legal market have agreed.

There was consensus on the issue among panellists participating in an online event jointly hosted by Legal Business and Pinsent Masons as part of the GC Powerlist UK 2020, as they reflected on the challenges they and their in-house teams have faced during the coronavirus crisis.

The panellists provided an insight into their approach to leadership and highlighted the importance of good communication in not only directing the work of their legal teams but in supporting them through Covid-19 challenges.

Amanda Hamilton-Stanley, GC and compliance officer at Pernod Ricard, said she has been open with her team members about the challenges she has faced in juggling work and home life during the pandemic.’I felt it was incumbent on me to talk about the challenges I was facing … so that you allow people to feel like “I am OK to say this”, “I am OK to speak up” and maybe say “I’m struggling to keep all the balls in the air”,’ she said.

She explained how regular informal meetings with her team have helped her maintain a human element to working relationships despite everyone working remotely.

‘For me personally, having the weekly Friday afternoon coffee chats enabled my team to hear from me, as one of the business leaders, how the business was going, what our response to it was, and get the genuine story rather than just having to constantly read it through a portal,’ Hamilton-Stanley said. ‘They could ask me questions about it. It just gave it that much more personal and human touch to it.’

Dan Guildford, general counsel at the Financial Times, agreed that, with team members working in different locations, communication has been particularly important, not just to ensure the in-house legal team is ‘functioning well’ and getting through their work, but also from a ‘more empathetic’ perspective.

Guildford said: ‘What has really hit home is that we are social animals. Perhaps that is taken for granted a little bit when you are in the office every day, but you have to work a lot harder at it when you are working remotely. You have to lead by example. You cannot assume the team are talking to each other, collaborating with other, without you getting involved and showing some leadership. You can’t just assume those water cooler-moments are just happening.

‘You have got to be authentic about these things when you check in on individuals and ask them how they are. You have to listen, you have to mean it. It cannot just be a box-ticking exercise. We are all really vulnerable at the moment. It is been a privilege, I think, seeing people’s home lives – you get that exposure to kids running around in the background, dogs barking, Amazon parcels being delivered – and you have to really take advantage of that by building on the personal relationships in that kind of way because you haven’t got your moments in the office,’ he said.

Bjarne Tellmann, senior vice president of GSK Consumer Healthcare, said leaders of in-house legal functions need to recognise how the pandemic may be affecting team members’ mental health. He said leaders should be ‘long-term optimists’ and also advocate that team members engage in physical exercise and time away from the desk. He said they should also encourage their team members to engage with projects that ‘transcend markets or locations’ as way of ‘getting people out of their silos, getting people out of their day-to-day reality and connecting them with people across the world’.

Concentrating the efforts of in-house teams around a core purpose can help give direction to their work during times of crises or uncertainty, Tellmann said. ‘Leadership is really, in my view, built around three pillars. The first is around purpose: making sure that you have the right mission, the right strategic priorities and that they are underpinned by solid values that reflect the company’s values and that evolve as the department evolves. Then you put a team that aligns around that purpose. That would be the second part of it, which is about getting the best people you can get and positioning them around the core areas of risk, the key priorities for the business, and then delegate and really create a safe culture for that team.

‘Then it’s about accountability. It’s about that third pillar around making sure people make themselves accountable and you hold yourself accountable as leader. If you adopt that approach it doesn’t really change that much in the current context [of the pandemic],’ he said.

Operations and procurement

In a separate online event on the topic of legal operations and procurement, also jointly hosted by Legal Business and Pinsent Masons and part of the GC Powerlist UK 2020, Helen Lowe, head of legal operations at easyJet, explained how the in-house legal team at the airline had co-created its own purpose to inform how it operates and how this sense of purpose had helped the team during the pandemic.

‘What the purpose has really given us is a real focus, and an opportunity to understand how we are part of the wider organisation as a legal team, what impact we have, and what value we should really be focusing on delivering into the business,’ Lowe said. ‘That is really the importance of that purpose is that it creates that sense of unity, that sense of community within the group and it has made a huge difference to the team.’

Lowe is incorporating principles from the O-Shaped lawyer programme initiated by Dan Kayne of Network Rail into her team’s development. Law firms such as Pinsent Masons are doing likewise.

Mo Ajaz, head of legal operational excellence at National Grid, said that it is important the objectives of the legal functions align with those set by the board of directors. ‘It is important to link what you are doing at a day-to-day level within the legal department to what is going at the strategic level within your organisation,’ Ajaz said.

‘The legal function is there for the purpose of helping the business deliver its services, so making sure we understand that we are not an island, that we are not doing things to the business, and that we are there supporting the business in delivering for their customers and clients, it is important that the legal department then sets its objectives and that there are deliverables that can be measured against that overarching principle,’ he said.

This post originally appeared on Out-Law, the online information service provided by Pinsent Masons

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Insurance Team of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Insurance Team of the Year

The entries have been assessed, the shortlists have been drawn up and our panel of general counsel judges have had their say: we are now delighted to reveal the winner of Insurance Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

This award recognises the team that has handled innovative work and has attracted the most impressive instructions of 2019 in this constantly changing sector. Judges were looking for one example of standout work – either a transaction, a dispute or even regulatory advice.

 


 

 


Sponsored by

Winner – Pinsent Masons

Pinsent Masons is a worthy winner for developing a successful solution to a crucial, post-EU referendum, regulatory challenge faced by the insurance industry.

Since the referendum, regulators have been calling on the insurance industry to devise a strategy to protect life insurance policies sold in other European countries if, as is expected, there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, passporting rights for UK insurers are removed. In response to this, to lawfully service and pay claims post-Brexit, Royal London formed a new Irish subsidiary, Royal London DAC (RLDAC).

The challenge was that there was no legal framework in Ireland for the ‘with-profits’ products that Royal London needed to transfer. With no legal precedent to follow, the Pinsent Masons team, led by insurance partner Hammad Akhtar and including regulatory partner Iain Sawers and banking partner Nick Gavin-Brown, developed a structure and reinsurance arrangement that gained regulatory approval and enabled with-profits and other business to be transferred to Ireland. Crucially, this included a framework of protection and governance to help ensure that the transferring policyholders did not suffer any material adverse loss of protection. The strategy enabled the transfer of c. £1bn of legacy Irish and German business to RLDAC.

The proposal needed to satisfy the High Court and UK and Irish regulators that it would stand up against any Brexit eventuality, provide the policyholders with appropriate protection and avoid imposing an unacceptable level of risk on RLDAC.

So complex and unprecedented was this structure, that the regulators instructed two top Irish and UK law firms to scrutinise it. Their review confirmed its robustness.

In February 2019, the £1bn asset transfer completed. Not only was this in advance of the 29 March deadline, but it was also ahead of many other major UK life insurers.

As a result, Richard Gordon, deputy group general counsel of Royal London, commented: ‘This was an important project for Royal London and for our Irish and German policyholders in particular. The Brexit context and the nature of some of the transferring business meant that there were a number of challenges and complications, but these were overcome and we achieved our desired outcome. The collaboration between the Royal London team and Pinsent Masons contributed hugely to this.’

Highly Commended – Norton Rose Fulbright

A NRF team, led by corporate partner Nicholas Berry, advised Arch, the Lloyd’s underwriter, on the launch of BlueVault, an insurance protection solution for secure storage of private keys for digital assets and cryptocurrencies, providing coverage of up to $150m on losses of cryptocurrency and other digital assets in ‘cold storage’.

The Blue Vault solution, which was launched publicly in September 2019, was developed in collaboration with broker and risk adviser Marsh. In groundbreaking work for a law firm, NRF provided both legal and technology consulting advice in relation to BlueVault, which included developing a bespoke solution for the relevant risk and the drafting of a new policy form, which – together with various endorsements – had to accommodate the underlying features of the distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

Other nominations

Clyde & Co

Representing Aviva in launching a private prosecution against a fraudulent public liability claim, believed to be the first such prosecution in the UK by an insurance company against a ‘slip-and-trip’ fraudster.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Advising Equitable Life Assurance Society on its extensive restructuring and subsequent sale of the entire business to Utmost Life and Pensions, which combined a solvent scheme of arrangement and a parallel insurance business transfer.

Marsh & McLennan

The Marsh legal team took a lead role in making sure the company’s landmark £4.9bn takeover of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group completed on schedule, in what was the largest acquisition in its 148-year history.

Sullivan & Cromwell

Advising client Assicurazioni Generali on its €600m acquisition of Seguradoras Unidas and its associated service company, AdvanceCare, from companies that were majority owned by Apollo Global Management.

Legal Business

Lead sponsor message: Pinsent Masons

Lead sponsor message: Pinsent Masons

In-house leaders in today’s world are navigating an era of unprecedented change.

Our clients’ businesses span the globe. They operate across a range of sectors, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Over and over again, however, we see the same themes.

Legal Business

‘Doing business the right way’ sees PEP fall significantly at Pinsents as turnover growth slows

‘Doing business the right way’ sees PEP fall significantly at Pinsents as turnover growth slows

Profit per equity partner (PEP) endured a 12% drop at Pinsent Masons over the last financial year as the firm continues to hold back funds from partner profits to prioritise internal investment.

PEP now stands at £546,000 at the firm compared to £620,000 last year, when PEP was clipped by 5% as Pinsents held back funds in the region of £6m for the purpose of investment in the business.

Revenues, however, managed to grow a steady 4% to £495.9m, compared to a 7% uptick last year; over five years the firm has grown turnover an impressive 37%.

‘From a financial perspective, I would characterise FY20 as satisfactory given the disruption in a number of our markets,’ commented managing partner John Cleland (pictured). ‘Whether that be Brexit and political turmoil in the UK, protests in Hong Kong, US/China trade wars, US/Iran tensions impacting the Middle East or bushfires in Australia.’

Cleland continued: ‘However, this is already ancient history. The year ahead will present challenges the like of which we have not seen before. Despite obvious headwinds brought about by Covid-19, we’re encouraged by the momentum we’ve found going into the new financial year.’

Earlier this year, the firm promoted staff outside of traditional legal services to partner for the first time in an increased promotions round. Hayley Boxall from Pinsents’ forensic accounting services team and director of client solutions David Halliwell were those occupying non-traditional roles to be given the nod.

Elsewhere, the firm strengthened its New Law credentials in 2019 with a series of moves, including the acquisition of legal services businesses Xenia and Xenion in December. Pinsents also launched its diversity and inclusion consultancy Brook Graham in the Asia-Pacific for the first time.

‘We firmly believe that if we continue to do business in the right way and for the right reasons, our business will come through this year strong, united and better than before,’ Cleland concluded.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Pinsents makes up non-lawyers to partner as it mulls quarterly distributions delay in wake of Covid-19

Pinsents makes up non-lawyers to partner as it mulls quarterly distributions delay in wake of Covid-19

Pinsent Masons has promoted staff outside of traditional legal services to partner for the first time in a slightly increased partner promotions round.

The firm said today (30 March) it was promoting 17 to partner, effective 1 May, including Hayley Boxall from its forensic accounting services team and director of client solutions David Halliwell. Pinsents has an forensic accounting team of seven, focusing on disputes, consultancy services and investigations, while Halliwell is charged with working across the firm to help clients change the way they deliver and receive legal services.

The other promotions – up from a total of 15 last year – are across its energy, financial services, infrastructure, real estate and advanced manufacturing and technology sectors. There are just four promotions outside the UK, including Simone Alphonse and Catherine Bendeich in Australia and Karah Howard in Hong Kong in the energy and infrastructure sectors; and David Stoppelmann in Germany. Five were made up in London, with the remainder elsewhere the UK.

Just over 40% were women, bringing the female proportion of the firm’s 474 partners to about 28%. The firm had in 2018 set a target of 30% representation by 2020, at a time when its partnership was just over 25% women.

Senior partner Richard Foley (pictured) commented: ‘Those promoted strengthen our position as a leading sector-focused, multinational legal services provider and mark an important step in our transition to become a professional services business with law at its core. Now, more than ever, developing talent that supports this is critical as our clients grapple with the challenges posed by coronavirus.’

The promotions come, however, as Pinsents warns partners it is assessing withholding upcoming distributions in response to the impact of Covid-19 on the trading of businesses around the world.

Foley commented: ‘Ordinarily around this time of year, we make a quarterly distribution to our partners. Whether we will do so, and if so, in what amount will depend upon how events unfold over the coming days and weeks.’

hamish.mcnicol@legalbusiness.co.uk

 

Pinsent Masons 2020 partner promotions in full:

Dawn Allen (financial services, UK)

Simone Alphonse (energy, infrastructure, Australia)

Catherine Bendeich (energy, infrastructure, Australia)

Hayley Boxall (forensic accounting services, UK)

Matthew Brewer (financial services, London)

Andrew Brydon (advanced manufacturing and technology (AMT), infrastructure, London)

Oliver Crowley (financial services, London)

David Halliwell (client solutions, UK)

Karah Howard (energy, infrastructure, Hong Kong)

Gemma Kaplan (financial services, London)

David Lancaster (AMT, London)

Nick McDonald (energy, real estate, UK)

Ann-Marie Salmacis (real estate, UK)

Michael Smith (real estate, UK)

David Stoppelmann (energy, Germany)

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Business as usual in the UK courts

Sponsored briefing: Business as usual in the UK courts

Pinsent Masons discusses exciting times for UK patent litigation in 2020 and beyond

For the past four years, Brexit has dominated the legal headlines as well as the popular press. It would be remiss in 2020, the year in which the UK leaves the EU, to fail to acknowledge its significance. However, despite the political and economic uncertainty, we patent lawyers are confident that 2020 will see business as usual in the UK courts.

Legal Business

Pinsents launches flexi-lawyering brand Vario in Germany following New Law acquisitions

Pinsents launches flexi-lawyering brand Vario in Germany following New Law acquisitions

Pinsent Masons has finalised two alternative legal services acquisitions, enabling the firm to launch its flexible lawyering business Vario in the German market.

The main acquisition for Pinsents is temporary resource provider Xenion Legal, which was founded in 2012 and is based in Frankfurt. The firm has also acquired Xenia, a sister company that operates an associated managed legal services business in Germany.

‘We’ve been looking at Germany for a long time,’ Vario managing director Matthew Kay told Legal Business. ‘It’s become a very important country for the firm with our three offices in Munich, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. This was an obvious next step for Vario.’

The move sees Pinsents absorb a team of five in Germany, while adding approximately 100 lawyers to its pool of flexible resource. Currently, Vario has almost 800 lawyers on its books globally, with a presence in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Xenion is one of the few flexible resource providers in the German legal market and has handled over 150 placements in the last three years.

The move also comes off the back of some impressive financials at Vario. Last year the business grew revenues by 50% (adding approximately £5m) while the previous three years saw growth of 30-35%. Vario and Pinsent’s diversity consultancy, Brook Graham, contributed approximately £17m to the firm’s £482m global revenue. Kay, meanwhile, has not ruled out further acquisitions as a means to further grow Vario’s global presence.

‘We’re now trying to consolidate and build up our capabilities. But if you look at a map of Pinsent Masons, we will be looking at all the jurisdictions in which we operate. It’s an interesting development because there’s been lots of activity in the legal disruption market, but this shows law firms won’t just be holding back.’

The Vario business in Germany will now be run out of Frankfurt with Kay at the helm. The Xenion and Xenia shareholders, however, will remain within the business.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: City hires aplenty as Goodwin adds Kirkland PE player and Weil makes restructuring lateral

Revolving doors: City hires aplenty as Goodwin adds Kirkland PE player and Weil makes restructuring lateral

Leading US firms have continued to ramp up lateral recruitment in London as Goodwin Procter hired a private equity partner from Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges added to its restructuring bench.

Goodwin hired Kirkland partner Carl Bradshaw to its private equity group. Bradshaw focuses on cross-border private equity deals and has worked on deals including leveraged buyouts, carve-outs, public-to-privates, consortium deals and co-investments.

Goodwin private equity partner Richard Lever told Legal Business: ‘The profile and industry-focus of [Bradshaw’s] client base is entirely consistent with our aim to be the premium mid-market private equity practice in the City operating with clients at the intersection of capital and innovation. We are seeing particular activity in the life sciences, tech – particularly fintech – and business services sectors.’

Meanwhile, Weil added restructuring partner Neil Devaney to its business finance & restructuring practice from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He has experience in cross-border finance, restructuring and insolvency and advises clients on complex, high-value debt restructurings.

Weil managing partner Mike Francies commented: ‘Neil will work closely with our highly regarded team in London and other senior business finance & restructuring leaders around the world to continue to build out our platform in Europe and globally.’

Elsewhere, Taylor Wessing has hired partner Liz Wilson to its tax and incentives practice in London. She joined from Squire Patton Boggs where she was a director. She has experience working on cross-border tax issues within corporate transactions, private equity, commercial agreements, real estate and construction transactions, projects and debt finance.

Taylor Wessing managing director Shane Gleghorn commented: ‘Liz’s appointment enhances our capability, providing more focus for clients and the taxation issues that need to be considered across all of their deals and investments.’

Ashfords has appointed partner Jocelyn Ormond from Simmons & Simmons to its corporate team in its Bristol office. Ormond has experience in advising private equity, venture capital and other funds, public and private companies on mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures, minority investments and equity fundraisings. He will be leading the firm’s focus on healthcare and developing a digital health practice.

Ashfords partner and head of the technology sector and Bristol office Chris Dyson told Legal Business: ‘We see digital health as being an increasingly important focus in the years to come so adding Jocelyn’s specialism to our team puts us in a great position to support this and the wider healthcare market.’

Clyde & Co, meanwhile, hired Janis Meyer, Anthony Davis and Rick Supple from Hinshaw & Culbertson to form part of Clydes’ law firm liability, regulatory and investigations group in New York. Meyer and Davis advise on legal ethics, risk management while Supple is a trial defence lawyer. Clydes launched in New York in 2006 and the latest expansion follows the hiring of a 90-member insurance and litigation team from Sedgwick in December 2017.

Clydes head of the law firm liability, regulatory and investigations group Richard Harrison commented: ‘As law firms have globalised, so too have their legal needs, which is why adding this well respected US team, whom we know well and have worked with for a number of years, is a significant move for us and is part of our strategy of expanding our global advisory and defence capabilities for law firms.’

Finally, Pinsent Masons has hired real estate partner Denis Charles from DLA Piper to its Paris office. The hire follows that of tax and real estate partner Eglantine Lioret and her team who joined the firm’s Paris office in February this year.

Head of real estate at Pinsents, James Crookes, told Legal Business: ‘The appointment of Denis and Elodie is another important step in the growth of our international real estate sector, as we respond to increasing client demand for an integrated, innovative and consistent approach to real estate legal services across a number of key jurisdictions in Europe – one of which is France.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Legal 500 Data: Behind the story

Legal 500 Data: Behind the story

The Legal 500 UK 2020 : Who tops the new rankings?

Pinsent Masons is once again the firm with the most top-tier rankings in the newly released Legal 500 UK Solicitors 2020 guide. The national leader has achieved 69 top-tier rankings across the UK and 163 rankings overall.