Legal Business

RSA Group

  • Group general counsel: Derek Walsh.
  • Team headcount: 40 lawyers.

The sizeable legal team at insurance giant RSA, which consists of 40 lawyers globally across the strands of legal, compliance and company secretarial is ‘well run, very tight and high quality’, according to insurance partner David Webster at RPC. A Magic Circle partner comments on the ‘high quality of in-house practitioners across the board that have been carefully recruited’.

Big mandates for the legal function include the £773m rights issue, which took place in March 2014, following losses in 2013 exacerbated by a £220m fraud in the group’s Irish business. On the team’s performance, group GC Derek Walsh says: ‘The rights issue was a really substantial achievement and my legal team got a lot of positive feedback. You don’t see too many rights issues in the marketplace. Recently we have also sold some assets at excellent prices. For my team it’s been a fantastic experience and learning curve.’

RSA is recognised for having strong ranks of younger lawyers, with the group’s head of legal Charlotte Heiss last year named as a Legal Business rising star. Walsh is also supported directly by Jenny Margetts, group head of regulatory, risk and compliance, and Elinor Bell, deputy group company secretary.
The team is regarded as having a strong track record in terms of promotion with talented individuals put through its training and development regime and an
established programme of mentoring.

The legal function also scores well on the diversity front – 66% of the leadership team are female, however Walsh insists that is led not by design. ‘I’ve just picked the best people every time I want to promote somebody,’ says Walsh. ‘Businesses talk about diversity but one of the things I feel genuinely proud of is that we have acted and achieved our objectives just by picking the best people for the job.’