Australia 2018 – GC Powerlist
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Australia 2018

  • Industries

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Alexandra Heysen

Litigation counsel and associate director | Macquarie Group


Alexandra Heysen is an experienced litigation counsel and associate director based in Sydney, first joining Macquarie Group in November 2014 after a glittering career at the Royal Bank of Scotland,...

Andrew Clarke

Group general counsel and company secretary | Origin Energy

Energy and utilities

One of Australia’s leading integrated energy companies with gas and renewable energy exploration, production and sales operations, legal support to Origin Energy is led by Andrew Clarke, group general counsel...

Andrew Finch

General counsel and group executive, office of the CEO | Qantas Airways

Transport and infrastructure

Australia’s flag carrier and the third oldest airline in the world, Qantas Airways has a large reputational and commercial presence in the market that requires constant, comprehensive and prompt legal...

Anna Golovsky

Head of operations, legal and governance | AMP


In February 2018, Anna Golovsky assumed the position of head of operations, legal and governance for Australian financial services business AMP, demonstrating the acknowledgement on behalf of the business of...

Anna Lenahan

Group general counsel and group executive, group corporate affairs | Commonwealth Bank of Australia


Joining in November 2016, Anna Lenahan brought her considerable in-house commercial and financial legal experience to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia after working in executive legal positions at Suncorp and...

Anna Lozynski

General counsel | L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand

Consumer products

In 2012, at 31 years of age, Anna Lozynski was appointed as an executive level greenfield general counsel to establish the legal function for the Australian and New Zealand wholly...

Anne Lock

General counsel, Australia and New Zealand | Bosch

After graduating from Monash University, the majority of Anne Lock’s 22 years in legal practice have been in-house, firstly with energy giant ExxonMobil, then consulting in the Middle East before...

Annette Spencer

General counsel | UBS


An accomplished general counsel with more than 20 years of financial services legal experience and proficiency in risk and governance matters, Annette Spencer is the general counsel of UBS in...

Ashe-lee Jegathesan

General counsel and company secretary | Vocus Group

Telecommunication services

Ashe-lee Jegathesan assumed her current position as general counsel and company secretary of Vocus Group in February 2016, following the successful merger of Vocus Group and M2 Group. Prior to...

Betty Ivanoff

Group general counsel | Coca-Cola Amatil

Food, beverages and tobacco

Betty Ivanoff first arrived at Coca-Cola Amatil in 2016, having previously undertaken a wide range of legal roles both in private practice and in-house, the latter spanning engineering, construction, building...

Blaise Lyons

Principal legal officer | New South Wales Ministry of Health

With 16 years at the helm of the legal operations at New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of Health as principal legal officer, Blaise Lyons has developed her expertise and is...

Bob Santamaria

Group general counsel | Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)


Prior to joining ANZ Banking Group in 2007, Bob Santamaria had been a partner for 20 years at the law firm now known as Allens, specialising in M&A and corporate...

Brett Cameron

General counsel and company secretary | Dexus


After nine years with a major law firm, specialising in M&A, securities, and corporate law in Sydney and then Hong Kong, and four years as head of legal for Macquarie...

Bruce Moore

General counsel | Australian Red Cross


The Australian Red Cross is a leading humanitarian aid and community services charity in Australia and an auxiliary to government with historic roots dating back to the early 20th century....

Carmel Mulhern

Group general counsel and group executive corporate affairs | Telstra

Telecommunication services

Almost two decades ago – after a successful career in private practice at Mallesons and other leading firms, and in academia – Carmel Mulhern moved in-house to Telstra as the...

Caroline Cox

Group general counsel | BHP Law

Materials and mining

‘I see my purpose as general counsel to be a problem-solver, developing strategies with the benefit of my legal skills, but also broader trends, experience and stakeholder interests. This includes...

Carolyn Lidgerwood

Head of privacy | Rio Tinto

Materials and mining

Being an Anglo-Australian firm and a leading multinational materials and mining corporation in operation for almost 150 years, Rio Tinto has a long and well established history as one of...

Carolyn Scobie

Group general counsel and company secretary | QBE Insurance Group


Carolyn Scobie started at QBE, the multinational insurance and reinsurance giant, as group general secretary and group company secretary in January 2016 having joined from global property group Goodman, having...

Chris Ryan

General counsel and company secretary | EnergyAustralia

Energy and utilities

Chris Ryan joined EnergyAustralia in January 2015 as general counsel and company secretary. Currently a member of the executive management team of the business, Ryan is accountable for the legal...

Christian Ainslie

Group general counsel and company secretary | Clough

Commercial and professional services

Having joined the company in 2010, Christian Ainslie has served as group general counsel and company secretary for engineering and construction firm Clough for four years. He brings 15 years...

Christian John Paech

General counsel and company secretary | Santos

Energy and utilities

Before Christian Paech joined Santos – Australia’s second largest independent oil and gas producer – he amassed a decade of experience in private practice with stints at both Ashurst in...

Christine Harman

General counsel and company secretary | Cricket Australia

Sports and media

Christine Harman has led the legal and company secretarial and integrity aspects of Cricket Australia since November 2014, after being general manager of legal and procurement for Australia’s Cricket World...

Christopher Lang

Senior legal director, Asia Pacific | PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand

Food, beverages and tobacco

Christopher Lang serves as PepsiCo’s senior legal director for the Asia Pacific region, having been with the global food conglomerate giant since 2011 moving from its Texas, US office to...

Claire Hashman

Legal counsel | Dexus


Early on in her career Claire Hashman was determined that she wanted to become a real estate and construction lawyer specialising in sustainability and green buildings. She has been fortunate...

Craig Durham

Senior vice president, group general counsel and company secretary | Redflex

Industrials and real estate

Craig Durham was appointed as group general counsel and company secretary of Redflex in February 2015, and was afforded the lead legal position at the vehicle monitoring and enforcement services...

Dan Cootes

Head of legal and company secretary | BT Australasia

Telecommunication services

Dan Cootes has over 15 years’ experience advising clients on commercial technology, intellectual property and data privacy issues, and has particular experience in negotiating complex global contracts. He currently acts...

Daniel Krutik

Head of legal – Sydney | Origin Energy

Energy and utilities

Australia’s leading integrated energy company and its largest energy retailer, Origin Energy delivers energy solutions to over four million electricity, natural gas and LPG customers. As head of legal, Sydney,...

Daniel Moran

Group general counsel and company secretary | ASX


One of the most important financial entities in the Australian economy, the ASX is the primary securities exchange in Australia and is one the world’s most notable, being listed amongst...

David Cullen

Group general counsel | AMP


Appointed as group general counsel in May 2018, David Cullen has been tasked with redeveloping the reputation of AMP Group as it responds to the controversies which have plagued the...

David Wenck

Head of legal and group general counsel | Aurizon Holdings

Transport and infrastructure

For the past eight years David Wenck has been head of legal and group general counsel for Aurizon Holdings, leading a high performance in-house legal team comprised of 15 lawyers....

David Woolfe

General manager legal and risk | CBH Group

Food, beverages and tobacco

Owned and controlled by around 4,200 Western Australian grain growers, CBH Group is Australia’s largest co-operative and a leader in the Australian grain industry. Since joining the organisation in 2003,...

Denisha Anbu

General counsel and corporate secretary | Sydney Water Corporation

Energy and utilities

Denisha Anbu started her legal career at international law firm King & Wood Mallesons practicing there for 14 years predominately in the telecommunications, media and technology sector and worked in...

Emma Zipper

General counsel and company secretary | BUPA


Australia’s largest private health insurance group Bupa has been served for almost 15 years by its current general counsel and company secretary Emma Zipper, who has approximately two decades of...

Francesca Lee

General counsel and company secretary | Newcrest

Materials and mining

Francesca Lee first joined Australian mining firm Newcrest as general counsel and company secretary in March 2014, and in carrying out her role uses a wealth of knowledge pertaining to...

Gail Hambly

Group general counsel and company secretary | Fairfax Media

Sports and media

Leading multi-platform media company Fairfax Media is known throughout Australia and New Zealand with its content being consumed by the local population for more than 185 years. Overseeing all legal...

Gavin Carney

General counsel and company secretary | Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)

Transport and infrastructure

Reporting directly to the CEO and chairman of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), Gavin Carney is the general counsel and company secretary of the company with responsibility for the...

Grant Smallhorn

General counsel Asia Pacific | WSP

Industrials and real estate

Having overseen and completed a number of important transactions and internal legal department initiatives during a successful career, Grant Smallhorn is the general counsel for the Asia Pacific region of...

Jacquie Mangan

General counsel | Tennis Australia

Sports and media

Jacquie Mangan has served as general counsel at Tennis Australia since 2013 and has expertly guided the organisation in all legal matters pertaining to the sport, governance projects and commercial...

James Coyne

General counsel | GPT Group


James Coyne has served as general counsel and company secretary of GPT Group – one of Australia’s largest diversified listed property groups – since 2004, bringing his considerable experience in...

Jamie Motum

General counsel and company secretary | Sydney Airport

Transport and infrastructure

In his current role of general counsel and company secretary for one of the world’s longest continuously operated commercial airports and the busiest airport in Australia, Jamie Motum has provided...

Janelle Cain

General counsel | EBOS Group


Janelle Cain is the general counsel of EBOS Group, a market leading healthcare wholesale distributer and marketer of pharmaceutical products in Australia and New Zealand. In the role since 2015,...

Jeremy Stevenson

General counsel | CHAMP Private Equity


Jeremy Stevenson commenced as the first general counsel of CHAMP Private Equity (CHAMP) in July 2016 to oversee all legal affairs for the group and its investee companies with a...

Jodie Hatherly

General counsel and general manager legal | INPEX Australia

Energy and utilities

Recognised for her ability to deliver some of the largest projects ever undertaken in the Australian energy industry, INPEX’s general counsel and general manager of legal in Australia Jodie Hatherly...

Johanna O’Rourke

Group head of commercial, operations and technology legal, group legal | QBE Insurance


It took the right role to lure her away from her 12 years in top tier law firms in both Australia and New York into an in-house career, but it...

John Connolly

General Counsel ANZ | Electrolux

Consumer products

John Connolly has been working in the fast moving consumer goods sector for over 10 years, and in this time has established himself as one of Australia’s most outstanding in-house...

John O’Grady

Group general counsel and company secretary | Ramsay Health Care


Private healthcare provider Ramsay Health Care – the largest provider of hospitals in Australia with more than 100 health facilities in operation – is the beneficiary of accurate, relevant and...

Julie Galligan

Group general counsel | Transurban

Transport and infrastructure

With nearly 10 years of experience at Transurban and prior experience in the transport and infrastructure sectors, Julie Galligan leads the legal function at the company as its group general...

Julie Ryan

General counsel and company secretary | Accolade Wines

Food, beverages and tobacco

Julie Ryan is a highly experienced in-house lawyer with extensive experience in the alcoholic beverage industry and the fast moving consumer goods industry in general, having almost 20 years of...

Justin Forsell

Chief legal counsel | nbn

Telecommunication services

Justin Forsell joined nbn as chief legal counsel and has since been responsible for all of nbn’s legal services, company secretary matters, freedom of information and security regulations. He leads...

Karen Pedersen

Group general counsel | LendLease Group

Karen Pedersen has served as group general counsel of Lendlease Group since January 2013 in Sydney, and has over 20 years of experience of in-house senior legal roles in the...

Karen Perret

Chief counsel, ANZ and Japan and AMEA GCBM | Mondelēz Australia and New Zealand

Food, beverages and tobacco

Karen Perret has worked as a general counsel and in other in-house legal positions in the food and beverage industry since 2004, beginning with Cadbury’s Australia and New Zealand operations...

Katherine Grace

General counsel and company secretary | Stockland

Katherine Grace joined Stockland in 2014 as general counsel and company secretary. Prior to her current role she was the general counsel and company secretary of Westfield Retail Trust. In...

Kirsten Gray

Group executive corporate services and company secretary | Orica

Materials and mining

Kirsten Gray serves as group executive for corporate services and as company secretary in a broad role responsible for a portfolio of functions at Melbourne-headquarted Orica, including legal, corporate affairs,...

Lawrence Kim

General counsel and head of corporate affairs | ENGIE Australia and new zealand

Energy and utilities

Lawrence Kim joined ENGIE in 2010 as a legal counsel and was appointed general counsel of the Australia and New Zealand region of the global electricity utilities group in 2014....

Libby Davidson

Group general counsel and external relations director | Lion

Food, beverages and tobacco

Libby Davidson brings 20 plus years of experience in competition law, M&A, IP, corporate governance, regulations and sustainability policy to her role as group general counsel and external relations director...

Lorraine Parrott

General counsel and company secretary | Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Australia and New Zealand


Lorraine Parrott is passionate about challenging the perception that lawyers are barriers to business and is a strong advocate for promoting their value proposition. With an expertise in motor vehicle...

Lyndall Stoyles

Executive general manager, legal and corporate affairs | Caltex

Energy and utilities

Firmly established within the market as Australia’s largest fuel network, Caltex supplies one third of Australia’s transport fuel and has gained a reputation for providing a safe and reliable supply...

Malcolm Haack

Group general counsel | Orica

Materials and mining

Leading energy giant Orica’s legal team on a day-to-day basis, Malcolm Haack – the company’s group general counsel – has experience working in and managing legal teams across Asia, Africa,...

Marc Scardilli

General counsel ANZ | WorleyParsons

Industrials and real estate

Having achieved a decade of in-house legal experience in the resources and infrastructure sector, Marc Scardilli leads the legal function at WorleyParsons in the Australia, Oceania and New Zealand region...

Marcus Clayton

General counsel and company secretary | Adelaide Brighton

Materials and mining

Marcus Clayton has served as general counsel and company secretary at Adelaide Brighton since 2003, becoming a trusted advisor to the board and CEO over the years since, and is...

Maria Polczynski

General counsel | Ooh!

Sports and media

After a notable career spent in the in-house legal banking and finance sector, Maria Polczynski moved on to a new challenge in May 2018 after her appointment as general counsel...

Maya vanden Driesen

Group general counsel | Wesfarmers

Industrials and real estate

One of the most notable companies in the Australian economy, Wesfarmers is an Australian conglomerate with interests predominantly in retail, chemicals, fertilisers, coal mining and industrial and safety products. The...

Mei Ramsay

Group executive – legal, governance and regulatory affairs and company secretary | Medibank Private


Mei Ramsay joined Medibank Private in 2011 as group general counsel, was appointed company secretary in 2014 and has since risen to group executive of the company’s legal, governance and...

Melissa Quinn

Senior corporate counsel | Optus

Telecommunication services

In 2015, Optus announced a bold strategy to transition from a traditional telecommunications provider into a multimedia entertainment company with its acquisition of the media rights for English Premier League...

Michael Herring

Group general counsel and executive director | Macquarie Group


Michael Herring was appointed as general counsel of Macquarie Group in 2009. Herring heads up the legal and governance aspects of the global diversified financials group consisting of a group...

Michael James Tropea

General counsel and company secretary, Australia and New Zealand (AUNZ) | AIA Australia


Michael Tropea has been general counsel and company secretary for Australia at multinational insurer AIA since 2012, having added responsibility for the New Zealand function in 2017, bringing with him...

Michael Vardanega

General counsel and chief executive, strategy | Challenger


Michael Vardanega joined Challenger – the largest provider of annuities in the Australian market – as a senior legal counsel in the asset management business in February 2006 after six...

Natalie Allen

Group general counsel and head of corporate development | LOGOS Property Group

Over the past 19 years Natalie Allen has worked in both corporations and top tier law firms, covering a range of different areas including real estate, fund management, corporate governance...

Nicholas Myers

General counsel | MMG

Materials and mining

Nicholas Myers assumed his current position in 2009 as the inaugural general counsel for global mining company MMG. Prior to this, he had been practicing resources law for over 25...

Nick Macdonald

General counsel and general manager, assurance (corporate centre) | Australia Post

Transport and infrastructure

Australia Post is a government owned corporation that delivers postal services in Australia and abroad. Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia Post largely operates in Australia, with offices scattered across the country...

Nicole Bannerman

Group general counsel and company secretary | Avid Property Group

As group general counsel at AVID Property Group, Nicole Bannerman is the sole advisor on risk, strategy, compliance and more, operating within a complex and evolving national property development business...

Nigel Lowry

General counsel and company secretary | Ausgrid

Energy and utilities

Nigel Lowry is the current general counsel of Ausgrid, the electricity distribution company which owns, maintains and operates electrical networks supplying 1.7 million customers in Sydney, the Central Coast and...

Patrick Hornby

Manager – legal and governance | Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB)

ATSB is an independent statutory agency whose purpose is to improve safety and public confidence in Australia’s transport system. When it separated from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development...

Peter Huston

Chief general counsel and director corporate services | Fortescue Metals Group

Materials and mining

As the lead lawyer of a big name within the Australian mining industry, Peter Huston – in his role of chief general counsel and director of corporate services – must...

Peter Lorbeer

Associate counsel | Shell Australia

Energy and utilities

Peter Lorbeer serves as an associate counsel with a remit across the Asia Pacific region for oil and gas behemoth Shell, focused on M&A deal making and other commercial legal...

Pita Williams

General counsel, QBE Australia and New Zealand | QBE Insurance (Australia)


Pita Williams started her legal career as an intellectual property lawyer before moving in-house to a large financial services organisation, learning the ropes carefully but quickly. The opportunity to work...

Rachel Launders

General counsel and company secretary | Nine Entertainment

Sports and media

An ASX listed media company with a range of different assets including the major Australian free-to-air television channel Nine Network, Nine Entertainment is a historic organisation in the context of...

Rachel Lunn

General counsel (Sonic Clinical Services) | Sonic Healthcare


Rachel Lunn is the general counsel at Sonic Healthcare in the Sonic Clinical Services (SCS) business line and is responsible for legal advice delivery and performance across the SCS portfolio...

Rachel Meulman

Senior corporate counsel | Optus

Telecommunication services

With over 15 years’ experience as a leading technology, media and telecommunications lawyer, Rachel Meulman has worked with Optus for 11 years and has been a key adviser to a...

Ray Jarman

Group general cousel | Cochlear


Group general counsel of Cochlear since 2008, Ray Jarman took on new responsibilities in 2017, adding company secretary to his remit taking charge of the healthcare company’s corporate governance and...

Rebecca Hayward

Legal, contracts and procurement manager – iron ore projects | Fortescue Metals Group

Materials and mining

Rebecca Hayward serves Fortescue Metals Group as legal, contracts and procurement manager for the iron ore projects division since August 2017 having first joined the company in 2011, bringing years...

Rebecca Lim

Group executive, compliance, legal and secretariat | Westpac


As the group executive for compliance, legal and secretariat of an ASX 50-listed banking and finance services provider, Rebecca Lim is well-known within the market for her outstanding knowledge of...

Richard Dammery

Chief legal officer and company secretary | Woolworths Group

Consumer products

Richard Dammery’s career can be divided into three almost equal parts; private legal practice, in-house legal, and commercial general management. He trained as an M&A lawyer at Freehill Hollingdale &...

Samantha Evans

General counsel Australia | Goodman

One of the country’s most talented in-house lawyers in the real estate sector, Samantha Evans is the current general counsel for global industrial property group Goodman in Australia, leading legal...

Seshani Bala

Group general counsel | Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Commercial and professional services

Having initially worked at full-service law firms in Australia (Clayton Utz) and New Zealand (Bell Gully), Seshani Bala enjoyed the intellectual challenge that M&A and private equity deals provided, but...

Sharon Cook

Chief legal and commercial counsel | NAB


Sharon Cook was first appointed to the role of chief legal and commercial counsel at Australian banking giant NAB in April 2017, having come from the position of managing partner,...

Sheldon Renkema

General manager – legal | Wesfarmers

Amongst a select group of lawyers known as pioneering in-house legal professionals recognised for their development of legal operations, Sheldon Renkema – Wesfarmers general manager of legal – takes a...

Steven Van der Donk

Deputy chief legal counsel and EGM legal counsel build operations | nbn

Telecommunication services

Steven Van der Donk has been deputy chief legal counsel and EGM legal counsel for build operations at nbn since 2010. He has been critical in the development of the...

Stuart Thomas

General counsel and company secretary | Network Ten

Sports and media

Network Ten – the historic Australian commercial television network – has been guided and supported through a number of frequent changes with regards to its ownership and day-to-day business operations...

Susan Anderson

Deputy general counsel | Monash University


Monash University, Australia’s largest university, is a truly global institution with five Australian campuses, a campus in Malaysia, a joint graduate school in China, a learning centre in Italy, and...

Susan Leppinus

General counsel and company secretary | Brickworks

Materials and mining

Having gained an intimate and extensive knowledge of legal and business issues that confront organisations in the construction and building products industry, Susan Leppinus is rightly regarded as one of...

Susan Schneider

Acting chief legal officer | Virgin Australia

Transport and infrastructure

Since commencing operations in 2000, Virgin Australia has developed into one of the country’s largest airlines. Selected as the acting chief legal officer for the group whilst chief legal and...

Tamara Kayser

Group general counsel | Incitec Pivot

Materials and mining

Prior to joining Incitec Pivot in 2008, Tamara Kayser practised M&A and corporate law in Melbourne, with King & Wood Mallesons, and for three years at Linklaters in London. Initially...

Tig Pocock

Principal, legal | BHP

Materials and mining

After spending almost a decade in private practice with Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Tig Pocock joined leading mining company BHP to undertake support on the company’s legal matters where he has...

Tim Wong

General counsel – Australia and New Zealand and company secretary | Luxottica Retail Australia

Consumer products

Tim Wong joined Luxottica as general counsel in 2013 after accruing prior executive in-house legal experience as group general counsel in the Asia Pacific region for George Weston Foods, and...

Trent Czinner

General counsel and company secretary | Vodafone Hutchison Australia

Telecommunication services

Trent Czinner started as a paralegal at Blake Dawson Waldron (now Ashurst) in 1993 and qualified in 1995, and after a short stint working in administrative law in London he...

Troy Swan

Chief legal officer and company secretary | Winc Australia & New Zealand (Staples+OfficeMax)

Consumer products

Troy Swan is the chief legal officer, company secretary and board member of the major multinational office products company Winc Australia & New Zealand. Winc was formed in 2018 following...

Vered Keisar

Vice president and general counsel Asia Pacific | ResMed


Vered Keisar joined ResMed in 2012 as a legal counsel looking after the Asia Pacific region and has since moved up the ranks to become vice president and general counsel...

Vivienne Webster

Senior corporate counsel and company secretary | Munich RE Australasia


The leading German reinsurance company Munich RE has been present in Australia since 1955. Serving as senior corporate counsel for Australasia, Vivienne Webster is effectively the company’s general counsel in...

Will Duffy

Senior legal counsel | Treasury Wine Estates (TWE)

Food, beverages and tobacco

Will Duffy began his legal career in 2010 as a graduate in the Melbourne office of Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens Linklaters) and spent four years rotating through the corporate...

Possessing a large land mass, rich natural resources and a highly developed infrastructure, Australia’s economy is resilient, diverse and constantly delivering ground-breaking and high value business initiatives. In addition to strong industries within the service sector including finance, media and transport and infrastructure, Australia’s economy is supplemented by its mining and materials sector which is one of the world’s most lucrative.

The country also benefits from a number of free trade agreements with important markets in Asia Pacific including China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand as well as with large economies further afield such as Canada and the US. As a result of these links, investment in both domestic and foreign multinational companies operating in Australia has significantly increased.
An important part in the continuation of these developments and the challenges they bring are Australia’s in-house lawyers, who serve a crucial function in delivering decisive and successful business outcomes within their organisation through their legal knowledge and commercial acumen.

In this edition of the GC Powerlist: Australia we are pleased to highlight some of the country’s leading in-house lawyers. To compile this list, we canvassed opinions from both law firm partners and in-house counsel in the jurisdiction. We identified the most impressive counsel who have utilised their legal knowledge strategically alongside business insight to make a positive impact towards their organisation’s success.


KPMG logo

Global markets have embraced change in 2018, which has been underpinned by the return of volatility. Whilst certain central banks have signalled plans to slowly taper the practice of quantitative easing after a prolonged period of use, the risk and likelihood of a recession remains low although an unwinding process of this scale is an unchartered exercise for the world economy. In addition, changes in monetary policy across countries has not been uniform, which in part represents the differences in economic health and stability across both developed and emerging markets. US and China trade tensions continue to make headlines, developed market interest rates have trended higher, and global equity markets are mixed, albeit US stocks continue to reach unprecedented highs. While the future outlook is unclear, change and dispersion across markets is expected to generate opportunities for those businesses ready to capitalise.

Closer to home, we are seeing significant change and instability in our regulatory and political landscapes notwithstanding that they have been traditionally viewed as established fundamental pillars of the country’s economic resilience. Though the findings and recommendations to come from the recent Royal Commission are yet to be published, it seems that greater regulation in the banking, superannuation and financial services industries is almost inevitable and similarly the fact that the country has had six prime ministers within the last eight years has raised concerns that Australia may not be viewed as the solid and reliable country that it historically has been. The effects of these shifting political and regulatory landscapes have contributed to potentially reduced confidence in Australia with investors, consumers and businesses generally predicted to engage in subdued levels of activity at least until the next federal election results are known.

Notwithstanding the fluctuating nature of the global and domestic economies, it seems that the key current issues facing general counsel in Australia continue to be those that have been identified in previous years; namely there continues to be greater expectations and pressure for general counsel to:

  • become more integrated with all aspects of their business and bring more to the executive table than pure legal advice or litigation support; and
  • provide more value with a stagnant or shrinking budget by providing more innovative and cost-effective solutions and leveraging technology to their advantage.

Wearing more than one hat
We often hear that general counsel and their in-house legal teams are required to support a growing spectrum of business risk, compliance, governance, operations and regulatory issues on a daily basis. They are being challenged to deliver on this growing mandate, to provide practical legal advice to support general business activity and proactively and collaboratively engage with their key business stakeholders. As a result of these challenges, the need for general counsel to wear multiple hats, acting as not only a legal adviser, but also as a risk manager and business leader that champions innovation and change, has increased considerably as general counsel continue to strive to help their organisations keep pace with the evolving business landscape.

The changes to the Australian business landscape have also contributed to the expectation that general counsel must provide their organisation with more than just legal decisions from the periphery, but rather are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the commercial imperatives of the organisation so that they can present advice that harmonises legal knowledge with business acumen. As business leaders look to use the current economic environment as an opportunity for growth and innovation, general counsel are likewise being asked to use risk management as a tool to enhance business value given the unique position that general counsel have of being able to identify future opportunities and dangers over the horizon from a perspective that can balance both legal and business issues – a perspective that is usually distinctive to that of most organisations’ board members.

Utilising technology
Whilst the notion of general counsel being required to ‘do more with less’ continues to be particularly relevant throughout 2018, it is also apparent that achieving this challenge and tweaking the existing operating model is not an easy task often due to head‑count, technology and budget pressures. As organisational leaders are being forced to consider and embrace the disruptive forces impacting their businesses, general counsel are similarly no longer able to ‘bury their head in the sand’ and rest on past practices but rather must look to become disrupters not the disrupted.

It is perhaps unsurprising that legal technology, as with other forms of modern computing technology, is viewed as having the potential to be a disruptive influence. This is particularly apparent given that improving in-house efficiency through technological means is reportedly predicted by general counsel to be a key strategy for raising legal department performance.

Whilst there are concerns that machines will take over legal jobs, we believe that the effective use of technological solutions will in fact ultimately improve the quality, cost and timeliness of legal services delivery and allow general counsel to focus on the most important issues facing their organisation rather than being consumed by certain mundane legal tasks.

Law through a wide angle lens
Given these various factors, the need for professional service providers to provide an aligned offering has never been more prominent. In much the same way that the expectations of general counsel have changed in recent years, the expectations of external legal counsel providers have similarly shifted. Clients are now looking for holistic support with their most important business initiatives and challenges, not just legal advice. This is the offering that KPMG Law now provides.

We deliver legal and business solutions as part of an integrated KPMG team, underpinned by commerciality, quality and technology. By working in unison with our Strategy, Consulting, Advisory, Deals, Tax and Risk specialists, our KPMG Law team is stronger and better, providing blended end-to-end solutions. We are also focused on deploying alternative legal services and innovative technology solutions that drive efficiency and better outcomes for our clients through our KPMG Legal Operations & Transformation Services. Streamlined legal and compliance solutions are delivered through our alternative legal services offering which aims to improve the performance, processes and quality of work of in-house legal teams – further improving the operations of the overall legal function.

KPMG Law is proud to sponsor the GC Powerlist for the third consecutive year. We warmly congratulate those general counsel selected for this year’s GC Powerlist and applaud each of you for the vital role that you play within your organisation.

GC Powerlist: Philippines Teams 2024

For our second edition of the Legal 500’s GC Powerlist: Philippines, we decided to turn the focus of the publication on to legal teams rather than individual lawyers, based on conversations we had with in-house and private practice lawyers in the region. By doing so, we moved our attention on to hardworking but often less heralded members of the legal team alongside the general counsel and other senior lawyers that are famous in the community. The response the community was intensely positive, and we were happy to welcome around 150 people to the beautiful Rainmakers Lounge at Villaraza & Angangco’s V&A Law Centre in Manila for our exclusive launch event.
After speeches from managing partner Sylvette Tankiang, Dodjie Lagazo of ACEN Renewables who provided the in-house legal perspective, and Legal 500 editor Joe Boswell, we moved on to the award ceremony where each legal team was given their accolade on stage by Sylvette. As you can see from the photos, we had a huge range of teams in attendance, many of whom made great efforts to represent their companies. Of particular note are the team from Globe who attended wearing matching T shirts to fly the flag.
As always, celebrations continued well past the official end time and the energy in the room was hugely positive. Special thanks for the massive success of our second GC Powerlist Philippines must go to our excellent sponsors V&A, who were helpful throughout the research in giving nominations and tips regarding the in-house legal community there, as well as faultlessly organising a complicated reception and award ceremony.