GC Powerlist > UNITED KINGDOM 2019

GC Powerlist: United Kingdom 2019

The research process for the GC Powerlist has grown substantially since the first report was published in 2013, and now encompasses online nominations as well as substantial interviews with senior general counsel (GCs) and private practitioners.

The first stage for the 2019 report began in early December with the launch of an online survey to canvass recommendations for outstanding GCs.. ...read more

Lead sponsor

Vision, purpose, focus. In my experience as a managing partner, these are essential ingredients for high performance organisations; essential ingredients for high performance teams; and essential ingredients for high performance individuals.

The GC Powerlist 2019 backs that up. And with some impact.

From cover to cover, the Powerlist is a ‘who’s who’ of senior in-house lawyers who have demonstrated the vision, purpose and focus to run legal teams that add true commercial value to their businesses. And that value is increasingly recognised at the highest level. Many of the GCs listed have already taken that coveted step to occupy a seat at the boardroom table; the rest are well on their way.

Of course, clarity of vision, purpose, and focus – while critical – can only take you so far. It’s the values you espouse and the behaviours that you demonstrate day to day which determine the
extent to which you succeed – or fail – in achieving your ambitions. And in helping your organisations achieve theirs.

Many of the most successful GCs we come across at RPC – a good number of whom I’m pleased to see in this year’s Powerlist – are cut from a common cloth. They share a single-minded service mindset, acutely focused on cutting through the background noise to deliver solutions, simply and effectively.

Client focus, for them, is second nature. It’s the starting point. They put the interests of their internal clients – and the business as a whole – front and centre in every decision they make. And they are disciplined in their approach to delivering on the commitments they make, big and small.

The true leaders are supremely collaborative. They work together inside and outside their teams – inside and outside their organisations – to bring out the best in each other for the good of the business, and the good of the people they work with.

And finally – as I wrote about at length here last year – they understand the value of diversity, in its broadest sense. By that I mean diversity of thought, diversity of experience and diversity of leadership. Importantly, they don’t just understand it, they deliver on it.

There are, of course, many differences between running a law firm and running an in-house legal team. But it strikes me that – as with these values – there are many similarities, too. Like a managing partner, GCs must focus on consistently providing the business with the best technical and commercial advice; they must deliver on their commitments to clients, all the time, every time; and, to achieve this, they must bring out the best in the people around them.

Those are the disciplines, the values, and the behaviours I obsess about at RPC. Looking through the Powerlist – and reading about the achievements of those included – tells me we in private practice can continue to learn a lot from looking at the way our in-house counterparts operate.

At RPC, we’ve been involved with the GC Powerlist since its inception over seven years ago, and we’ve certainly learned plenty along the way. It was then – and it remains now – the definitive line-up of the leading and most forward-thinking in-house lawyers in the market.

Congratulations to all those featured.

James Miller
Managing partner Tel: 020 3060 6517

Associate sponsors

3 Verulam Buildings

Many congratulations indeed on being selected for the GC Powerlist UK for 2019. We at 3 Verulam Buildings (3VB) are proud to be associated with this authoritative list of ‘the most influential in-house lawyers in business today’, which is the accolade you now carry!

3VB is one of the foremost sets of barristers’ chambers in the UK specialising in commercial law, and with many highly prominent legal practitioners across the world. We have a depth of experience across the full range of commercial litigation, from banking and financial services to company law, insurance, professional negligence, insolvency, commercial fraud, IT, and media and entertainment. Our members are regularly instructed in the major pieces of commercial litigation of the day, and often act in teams on various sides of major disputes. In addition, 3VB has a strong reputation in domestic and international arbitration, including significant experience of investment treaty disputes and cases involving energy, natural resources and infrastructure. We frequently work in other jurisdictions, and often as part of multi-jurisdictional teams. We are also delighted to have recently launched our International Advisory & Dispute Resolution Unit, with a host of UK-based and international experts.

3VB’s barristers are regularly instructed directly by general counsel of corporates across a broad range of industries including oil and energy majors, telecoms companies, investment and retail banks, hedge funds and the insurance sector.

We look forward to meeting you at the GC Powerlist reception.

Ewan McQuater QC and Adrian Beltrami QC
Joint heads of chambers
Tel: 020 7831 8441

Improving the representation of women at GC level in the FTSE

The business case for greater gender diversity has only increased the need for transformation in executive and functional head roles. Yet women are still far from being equally represented in the top legal position at FTSE companies. Progress has been made in the FTSE 100, but in FTSE 250 companies there is a lack of collective understanding of what it takes to maximise the potential of senior female legal leaders.

Gender balance: FTSE general counsel January 2018 to February 2019*

FTSE 100

  • 32% of the existing FTSE 100 group general counsel are female

  • Women made up 83% of FTSE 100 group GC appointments in 2018-19

  • Incremental improvements and progress have been made to address gender imbalance

FTSE 250

  • 31% of the existing FTSE 250 group GCs are female

  • Women made up only 38% of FTSE 250 group GC appointments in 2018-19

  • No significant progress in the appointment of senior female legal talent at group GC level

The following measures address ways in which to improve gender diversity in FTSE companies:

Accountability Despite considerable diversity and inclusion efforts, several top teams do not hold decision-makers accountable for not reaching diversity targets. When there are fewer female group general counsels than male in the FTSE, there comes a point where organisations should give the opportunity to high potential women and provide them with genuine developmental opportunities.

Female succession planning and development programmes Early identification and acceleration of high-potential female lawyers is paramount to see more women in the top jobs. Organisations need to invest time and resources in designing and implementing effective succession planning and meaningful mentorship programmes.

Unconscious bias training When appointing a GC, companies should insist that search firms and HR directors have an adequate number of women in the candidate pool to help fight unconscious bias. Statistical evidence shows hiring processes largely favour men. In 2016, the Harvard Business Review highlighted the results of a study showing that if a second female candidate is included in a shortlist pool of candidates, the chance of a woman being appointed was 79 times greater than when there is only one woman in the finalist pool.

Overall, progress continues to be made within the FTSE 100, but the pace of change is still far too slow when it comes to women being appointed into executive legal roles within the FTSE 250. The challenge is for all companies to do more and do it faster in order to benefit from the widest possible pool of talent.

*Data taken from the London Stock Exchange, FTSE company websites and public profiles. All data is validated by Fox Rodney Search and the information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.


Corinne Lennock
Senior consultant, legal and compliance EMEA
Tel: 020 7337 2722

Representing Scotland’s GC community

The Law Society of Scotland is the professional body for over 11,000 Scottish solicitors. With our overarching objective of leading legal excellence, we strive to excel and to be a world-class professional body, understanding and serving the needs of our members and the public. We set and uphold standards to ensure the provision of excellent legal services and ensure the public can have confidence in Scotland’s solicitor profession.

Nearly 30% of our members work in-house making a critical contribution to the success of the companies and organisations that employ them. The Law Society of Scotland is proud to represent and support our members working in-house in Scotland and beyond.

The profile of the expanding and important community of in-house lawyers is extremely diverse. Scottish in-house lawyers can be found across every sector, performing a wide range of roles and in every corner of Scotland (and beyond). With diversity comes complexity and the needs, challenges and working environments of in-house lawyers can differ greatly from individual to individual. However, the rewards of being in-house definitely outweigh the challenges.

Our in-house members play an important role in providing advice that is closely attuned to the needs and strategies of the large number of organisations that employ them.

Fraser Hudghton
Head of legal member engagement – England and Wales
Tel: 0131 476 8132

For busy individuals, tax year end can be a good time to bring your personal finances to the top of the pile, at least momentarily taking stock and ensuring not only that you are prepared for the short term, but that longer-term financial goals are also being addressed.

Tax year end
The proactive use of basic allowances can be powerful in helping to grow your wealth. A few of these are noted below, with particular attention paid to a closing window of opportunity for pension contributions:

(i) Pensions. Unused allowances may be carried forward for up to three years. From the 2016/17 tax year, high earners have been limited to contributions of £10,000 pa. The current tax year therefore represents the final opportunity for an individual to carry forward any unused allowance from the 2015/16 tax year when high earners were still entitled to a higher £40,000 pension contribution allowance.

(ii) ISAs (including Lifetime ISAs)

(iii) Capital gains tax exemptions

Further information and additional allowances can be found on our end of tax year checklist at www.saundersonhouse.co.uk.

Long-term planning
It is important to take the time to consider and prioritise your future objectives rather than just focusing on the short term. We help support our clients by providing a comprehensive financial planning and investment management service. By considering their financial situation holistically, we help focus on their investment and associated tax considerations, cash flow planning and modelling, pension planning, and inheritance tax and estate planning.

If you have been called to action and are engaging with a new adviser or simply reviewing an existing one, here are a few considerations to bear in mind when evaluating your financial adviser relationship:

  • Are they independent or restricted?

  • How do they charge and are their costs transparent?

  • What resources are available (eg, in-house investment research team; support structure; professionally qualified advisers to the highest standard)

  • Do they offer advisory or discretionary investment and can they verify investment performance?

  • Ask for references.

If you would find a discussion helpful at this time of year, please get in touch.

Ian McNally

If a business is to capitalise on the potential asset they hold in the shape of a good legal claim, at a time when boards are increasingly focused on managing legal spend, it is vital that a general counsel can identify the most cost-effective way to engage their external lawyers and protect the business against heavy costs in the event of a loss.

While some businesses are content to pay their fees on a standard basis, others seek more innovative solutions to maximise their legal budget, remove risk from their balance sheet and even change their department from a cost unit into a profit centre. With such a buzz around the litigation funding market, most in-house lawyers are aware of how a litigation funder can help to achieve these outcomes, but few understand the full range of funding and insurance options available to them. Litigation funding is an ideal solution for a business seeking cash flow assistance, however, alternative products – such as litigation insurance – can offer the same levels of risk management for a significantly reduced price if cash flow is not the primary concern.

In this fast-changing environment, real-time knowledge of current market dynamics is essential if a business is to manage its cost risk and maximise its legal spend. Given the range of tools available, it is important to review the market, and to keep an open mind on which products and providers are the most appropriate for each claim.

Established in 2000 with offices in the UK, USA and Canada, TheJudge specialises in arranging litigation insurance and funding for commercial disputes. We are one of the most connected and experienced teams in this highly specialised market. Neither the litigation insurance market nor the litigation funding market can hope to meet the needs of all businesses in isolation. Our value to you lies in our overarching view of both markets and unrivalled experience in tailoring arrangements that consider and, where appropriate, combine both options. Our hands-on and bespoke approach ensures we understand your fee objectives in respect of each case, and source competitive and commercial solutions to match.

Verity Jackson-Grant
Director of business development
0845 257 6058




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