GC Power List 2015: The Team Elite

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Beyond the 50

The Power List 2015 settled on 50 exceptional legal teams but there is a wealth of talent in the employed profession. Here we highlight some other strongly tipped corporate counsel.

Capital & Counties Properties

Steadily gaining a reputation in the market is the small but respected legal team at FTSE 250 company Capital & Counties Properties (Capco), a London property company demerged from Liberty International (now renamed Intu Properties) in 2010. Continue reading “Beyond the 50”

Boardroom Horizons: The Market View

Top-level general counsel give their views on what marks out an exceptional in-house legal team in a risk-driven global economy.

Donny Ching, legal director, Royal Dutch Shell… on winning friends and influencing commercial colleagues.

‘You can tell who the really great lawyers are by the way they interact with their business colleagues. Those who are constantly being consulted, being involved as a core member of the team, sometimes leading the negotiations. You can see the dynamics in the discussions and the negotiations – which are the lawyers that are genuinely very respected. And those are the lawyers which are getting the best outcome.’

Benoit Belhomme, general counsel (GC) Western Europe, British American Tobacco… on working in contentious sectors.

‘Like a doctor, you need to understand your patients to give the right remedy. You share the pain as well. Controversial industries like ours tend to have a culture where lawyers are more part of the business. You have to frequently adapt and people know legal is a crucial element to maintain a licence to operate.’ Continue reading “Boardroom Horizons: The Market View”

The A-Teams – In Pursuit of Excellence

The 2015 Legal Business GC Power List puts the strength and depth of top in-house legal teams under the spotlight. With these teams largely forced to re-boot post-Lehman, what does it take to become the best in the business in a risk-driven economy?

In the last two years, Telefónica UK has reduced its reliance on external legal advice to the extent that its spend on law firms has fallen by 66%. Meanwhile, at BT, from which O2 span off in 2001 before being acquired by Telefónica in 2005, commercial external legal spend is down a startling 90% since 2010. Despite this, the volume of legal work required by both telcos hasn’t diminished: it is just being handled more efficiently in-house.
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The pace of change is frightening

In the three years we at RPC have been involved with Legal Business’ GC Power List, the shifting sands of the economy have created both threat and opportunity across all sectors, in all jurisdictions; the rise and rise of the regulator has continued unabated; and the issue of enterprise-level risk has established itself firmly at the top of the corporate agenda.

Frightening? Actually, I take that back, it’s exhilarating. We live in interesting times. Interesting times bring interesting challenges. And interesting challenges give the very best people the opportunity to put down a marker and establish themselves as true leaders within their organisations.

And, as this stellar list of the 50 best in-house legal teams in the country shows, the most progressive lawyers are making up a growing number of those leaders. Not just as leaders of their teams but, increasingly, as genuine leaders of their organisations, influencing strategic direction and with a significant voice at the boardroom table.

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It’s the ‘decade of the lawyer’. Law firms beware

Our third annual GC Power List report looks more like a state-of-the profession piece than its two predecessors. While the earlier reports focused on standout individuals, in 2015 we highlight 50 exceptional in-house teams, which inevitably addresses how clients operate.

Even a cursory glance at how these teams have evolved underlines the huge shift that has been taking place in the UK legal profession over the last 15 years: the best in-house legal teams are seizing influence, technical skills and budget, largely from their service providers.
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Emily Cane: Associate Counsel for EMEA commercial lines, AIG

According to one nomination in support of Emily Cane’s inclusion in this year’s report, she is ‘regarded as indispensable to the legal team and worth ten people’.

A former Norton Rose associate, who qualified into the firm’s corporate and regulatory insurance team, Cane joined AIG in January 2010, working for EMEA GC Chris Newby.

Newby is certainly impressed: ‘Emily has displayed not only legal acumen but tremendous adaptability, taking on a variety of increasingly senior and complex roles over the years. She has tackled each with pragmatism and legal zeal to provide legal services to the financial lines, Global Risk Solutions and the EMEA-wide group.’

Some of Cane’s most noteworthy roles include advising on transactions with FTSE 100 companies and developing AIG financial lines products as well as global captive reinsurance programmes, sanctions issues and multinational matters.

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Susan Henderson: European labour and employment head, GE

Susan Henderson leads GE’s centralised team of European labour and employment lawyers: a team she developed to provide support across GE’s diverse businesses and employee population – covering over 90,000 employees in 30 countries. Alongside this, Susan is currently focused on GE’s prospective $13.5bn acquisition and integration of Alstom’s energy businesses.

Before GE, Susan worked in-house with Legal & General, having started her career at McGrigors and Lovells.

Susan is qualified in Scotland, England and Wales and New York.

She is regularly invited to speak and write on both domestic and international legal issues and is a former chair of the UK In-House Employment Lawyers Network.

One Magic Circle partner comments: ‘Susan has fantastic technical knowledge but is also a very smart operator who has the absolute trust and confidence of her stakeholders. She can spot the key issues at the outset.’

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Daisy Le Vay: Head of Litigation and Co-head of Corporate Legal, EMEA, Nomura

A former Linklaters litigation associate, Daisy Le Vay became an in-house lawyer with Virgin Atlantic in 2007 before joining Nomura in 2008 as an executive director in the Japanese bank’s litigation department.

As head of litigation, Le Vay is responsible for dealing with some of the most complex and high-profile issues Nomura faces. She manages a team of litigators and also co-heads a larger team of commercial, employment, IP and IT lawyers, as well as the company secretarial group.

One counsel at a Magic Circle firm comments: ‘Daisy is an exceptionally bright lawyer with a finely honed ability to spot the important points. She simultaneously gets every detail without losing the ability to see the wider picture. She is also an excellent and a confident communicator.’

What makes Le Vay stand out is her ‘exceptional intellectual ability and rigour. She is someone who always thinks strategically but can also make quick decisions and is totally in tune with her business’.

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