Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

I have always been attracted to public service. A number of my colleagues from my time at Gibson Dunn had gone on to serve as solicitors general in state attorney generals’ offices. Those offices provide unparalleled opportunities, such as the chance to argue appeals and challenge areas in which the federal government has exceeded its powers and placed onerous regulatory requirements on the state. So I was very grateful to have been offered the opportunity to work in the West Virginia solicitor general’s office.

In 2017, I became the general counsel (GC) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I am primarily responsible for two components – reviewing Commission rules and orders to ensure they are legally sustainable, and defending those actions in court. I also oversee units that deal with fraud and bankruptcy issues, as well as various internal issues like employment matters. In West Virginia, I supervised four or five attorneys at any given time. Now, I oversee a team of more than 70 lawyers, so I’ve had to focus a lot more on learning how best to allocate my time and how best to delegate. Continue reading “Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission”

The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s

The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s

Chicago-born Christine Dekker’s decade-long run as legal counsel for McDonald’s has seen her relocate from the US to Shanghai for work in 2014 on a gamble that paid career dividends, ultimately earning her the role of general counsel (GC) for the UK and Ireland three years later.

As vice president-GC for the restaurant chain’s Chinese market, Dekker had played a prominent role in handling the sale of a $2bn equity interest in the China and Hong Kong business to strategic investors. In Shanghai she ran a team of 23 lawyers but also found time to travel to smaller Chinese cities, not to mention visit the odd local potato farm. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Christine Dekker, McDonald’s”

The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC

The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC

‘Before university I spent a year working in India in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, teaching English, maths and personal hygiene,’ Hugh Pugsley, general counsel (GC) for HSBC’s UK banking and insurance businesses, casually slips in at the end of the interview.

Although his days of reading the complete works of Hector Hugh Munro (‘Saki’) to indulge his love of travel books are behind him, he admits: ‘I still love being transported into another world’. Continue reading “The Client Profile: Hugh Pugsley, HSBC”

Life during law: Jeremy Drew

Life during law: Jeremy Drew

My mother was always convinced I was going to be a barrister. She used to watch TV dramas involving barristers. My father, a much more practical man, was desperately trying to convince me I should do a subject that was useful. So I went into the law and really enjoyed it.

I started at Edwards Geldard, one of the ‘big four’ in Cardiff. I joined the IP group because I loved the tech side. Contentious and non-contentious surrounding tech: being paid to do what I enjoyed seemed amazing. Continue reading “Life during law: Jeremy Drew”

Client profile: Anna Cosgrave, graze

Client profile: Anna Cosgrave, graze

The self-confessed fitness freak and head of legal on the allures of in-house law and healthy snacks

‘I took the right decision for me,’ says Anna Cosgrave, head of legal at healthy snack brand graze, on her move in-house. ‘My husband – who is also a lawyer – and I needed one of us to be a bit more flexible and to take the lead with our children during the week. My office is a 15-minute drive from home and I leave work on time, almost without fail. Work/life balance is extremely important to us while the children are young, but – make no mistake – I am still very ambitious.’ Continue reading “Client profile: Anna Cosgrave, graze”

Life during law: Leona Ahmed

Life during law: Leona Ahmed

My dad was born in Kashmir and was in the Pakistani Air Force, posted to Turkey. India and Pakistan were separating and he decided he wouldn’t go back. He moved to the UK and met my mum at night school. She worked in a biscuit factory when I was a kid and was all about, ‘You’re going to do better than this.’

I didn’t start working life as a lawyer. I’m Asian and started in retail – freshly-squeezed orange juice and health food products. My dad wasn’t impressed. He was first generation here and said: ‘This is a fantastic country with great opportunities, I did not come here for you to be another Asian shopkeeper.’ Continue reading “Life during law: Leona Ahmed”

Client profile: Matt Wilson, Uber

Client profile: Matt Wilson, Uber

‘I wrote my own resignation letter twice in the first six months,’ Matt Wilson, Uber’s associate general counsel (GC) for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says. ‘I didn’t hand it in either time, but it was close.’

A frank, but not surprising, admission. Wilson has, in the view of one peer, had one of the most difficult jobs in the GC community since he became the ridesharing company’s first domestic UK lawyer back in 2015. Continue reading “Client profile: Matt Wilson, Uber”

Life during law: Mike Francies

Life during law: Mike Francies

I was probably the world’s worst children’s entertainer. I needed a Saturday job to earn money but played football on Sunday mornings and rugby on Saturday mornings. A friend had a business that did magic tricks for children’s parties and I could fit the job around the sport. No, I didn’t dress up as a clown. I might have been a bit of a clown, but I didn’t dress up as one! I was the person at whom the children shouted: ‘I know how you’re doing that trick!’

They gave you a Fisher Price magic set. My stage name was Roger because they already had a Michael. I’m amazed you managed to find out about this – I thought it was quite a well-kept secret! Continue reading “Life during law: Mike Francies”