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career path


Spring 2016

Catherine Wycherley, Editor and features writer

image of side on view of owlKeith Ruddock retired at the end of 2015 after an in-house career that spanned over 23 years – first at Shell, and then at global engineering company The Weir Group. GC collects his reflections for success in the in-house role.



Moving from Counsel to General Counsel

Winter 2015

Mike Fahey

image of sunlight in forestHow do you make that leap to the top job? Mike Fahey, former GC and principal at executive and board search firm RSR Partners, gives some valuable career tips.



Shopping Around

Winter 2015

Boris Dechev, Research analyst, The Legal 500

image of Russia shopping mallMoscow-based Maksim Arefiev is director of the legal service centre at X5 Retail Group and has worked in-house since qualifying as a lawyer. He chats to GC about his career in the Russian retail sector.




Summer 2015

Catherine Wycherley, Editor and features writer

image of camera filmingAn experienced general counsel currently at the legal helm of leading Polish media group , TVN, recently presided over the company’s acquisition by US group Scripps Networks Interactive.



Room at the top of the legal profession?

Summer 2015

Catherine Wycherley, Editor and features writer

image of man at a stationGC talks to Mandie Lavin, chief executive of the UK-based Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) about how in-house teams in the UK are opening up their ranks to graduates of a different type of legal qualification.



The road less travelled

Summer 2015

Catherine Wycherley and Jodi Bartle

image of caravan in the desertDavid Johnston is chief executive of the UK’s Social Mobility Foundation. He chats to GC about why people from privileged backgrounds get a leg-up in the UK legal profession, and how in-house counsel can make a change.

The route to a legal career in the UK is a well-known, fairly traditional one: a good school, good results, a good university, work placements, training contracts, and quite possibly, hefty debts. Although diversity and inclusion initiatives are in place among many private practice and in-house employers, recent media reports lambasted elite law firms for recruitment processes that weed out those lacking intangible qualities alongside flawless academic records, and which are often skewed to catch those with privileged backgrounds.




Summer 2015

Catherine Wycherley, Editor and features writer

image of a man at the edge of a hillDavid Handelsmann, managing director at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) in Mexico TALKS about what it takes to succeed in an unfamiliar legal, cultural and business environment.

An Australian lawyer by training, David Handelsmann arrived in Mexico to take up the post of Latin American GC for MIRA, a global alternative asset manager focused on infrastructure, real estate, agriculture and energy assets. Driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to roll his sleeves up and get stuck into the legal affairs of what was effectively an emerging market start-up - albeit within a large institutional platform - David had to acclimatise to a number of new environmental dynamics.




Summer 2015

Catherine McGregor, Editor-in-Chief

illustration of ShanghaiAs director of the project management division and legal department at China National Offshore Oil Corporation [CNOOC], Leslie Zhang has presided over some sizeable transactions – not least the company’s $15.1BN acquisition of Nexen Inc.

My team primarily provides legal services to the largest-scale commercial transactions, bond and securities issues, divestitures, joint ventures and M&A. There’s obviously an imperative to avoid litigation, or situations that could lead to the potential for litigation. CNOOC considers a huge number of opportunities, so we get exposed to many potentially high-profile deals, but we only look at about 5% of all the opportunities we’re offered seriously.



young guns

Spring 2015

Catherine Rodgers, Editor and features writer

illustration of red converse

Is in-house success all about wisdom and experience, or can younger lawyers match their more sage counterparts with a different package of skills? GC investigates whether age is just a number in the coveted role of General Counsel.

CEOs are getting younger. Since 1980 the average of the Fortune 100 CEO has dropped from 59 to 56 according to a recent feature on And let’s not forget the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Melissa Mayer – fresh-faced and leading the charge for the under-40s.

What of GCs? Is there a similar trend?




Winter 2014/15

Catherine Rodgers, Editor and features writer

image of man snapping pencil in halfCorporate counsel from around the globe pass on their top tips for the first few months in the job.

For the new in-house counsel freshly arrived from a top-tier law firm, the future looks bright. Equipped with analytical skills hewn from a rigorous academic and practical training, the eagle eyes of a seasoned risk-spotter, and the quick wits of a problem-destroyer, new corporate counsel could be forgiven for thinking that the time is nigh to relax into the kinder work-life balance that company life promises. But that first in-house role brings challenges that take many by surprise. New in-housers need to develop a different set of skills to manage the demands of having the client sitting outside the door.




Winter 2014/15

Catherine McGregor, Editor in Chief

image of three escalators

In-house or private practice? Received wisdom puts this as the binary choice facing lawyers. But both roles place huge and increasing demands on time, and for many, managing their schedule is a receding dream. Does it have to be this way?

Former Airwave GC and company secretary Rachael Davidson is one of a growing breed of UK lawyers who might have cracked the conundrum. For nearly a year she has been working as an interim GC for an alternative law firm. This provider, Halebury, describes itself as a supplier of ‘external in-house lawyers’. Could this new model be blurring the line between internal and external counsel while also allowing fully flexible working? GC’s Catherine McGregor catches up with her to find out more.



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