Legal Business


  • Group general counsel and company secretary: Kirsty Cooper.
  • General counsel: Monica Risam.
  • Team headcount: 150 lawyers in the UK.

Team heads Monica Risam (pictured) and Kirsty Cooper, who serve as GC and group GC respectively, have worked to implement multiple new initiatives, which have helped to establish Aviva as having one of the most forward-thinking legal teams in the sector.

This includes its first panel process (resulting in £2m of cost savings); creating a legal leadership development programme alongside a ‘soft skills’ personal impact programme; last year establishing an unusual forum for insurance legal teams to discuss pressing sector issues and best-practice initiatives; and creating a permanent group secondment seat.

Cooper manages a total of 332 staff, 225 of which are in the UK, including all the lawyers and chartered secretaries across the group. Major pieces of work in recent months include its acquisition of Friends Life for £5.2bn; a deal that saw Aviva pledge to deliver £225m of annual cost savings within three years of the acquisition, and constituting one of the biggest deals the UK insurance sector has seen in years.

Allen & Overy partner Sarah Henchoz comments: ‘It’s a really dynamic team focused on delivering innovative solutions to the business and not throwing up legal blockers. They really see themselves in partnership with the business to deliver the end result to customers.’

Within Cooper’s team, head of legal at Aviva Broker UK, Howard Grand, is also highlighted for his efforts in leading Aviva’s response to the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into private motor insurance and Aviva’s road-to-reform proposals for wider market reform.