Legal Business

AIG

  • EMEA general counsel: Chris Newby.
  • Group general counsel: Thomas Russo.
  • Team headcount: 1,200 in legal, regulatory and company secretarial, including 85 lawyers in Europe.

Talk of innovation is widespread among in-house legal teams but at AIG, the team genuinely stands out for delivering on a number of fronts with little fanfare despite being a company that has faced wrenching change in recent years.

Under the helm in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) of understated general counsel (GC) Chris Newby, the AIG legal team last year worked with McKinsey to implement a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) efficient working model, which it completed in December after a 14-week programme. While LSS will be rolled out across different departments and jurisdictions within AIG EMEA, legal is the only function to have completed it. Newby comments: ‘I put in a bid for why I thought it would be a good exercise for legal to do and the chief executive and New York legal supported the initiative.’

AIG’s legal team expects to save 20% of time currently spent on day-to-day tasks. They will ‘reinvest’ 10% of that time, while the other 10% will go towards helping AIG lawyers achieve a better work/life balance.

Having analysed where duplication of tasks exists, the team is rolling out European-wide standard operating procedures and Newby has already overseen an initiative to educate the AIG business about what the legal team does and introduce service-level agreements. These latest initiatives follow the introduction in 2013 of an independent ‘legal operations centre’ to obtain better metrics and performance indicators on external legal counsel. In the same year, Newby outsourced much of AIG’s volume work to Bond Dickinson, freeing up in-house lawyers to work on more strategic issues. He is currently trialling automated non-disclosure agreements in conjunction with Bond Dickinson.

Other key team members include deputy GC Europe, Kirsty Middleton, and UK head of legal, Neil Braakenburg.