Emma Braun – GC Powerlist
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Australia 2022

Energy and utilities

Emma Braun

General Counsel and Company Secretary | Melbourne Water

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    Australia 2022

    legal500.com/gc-powerlist/

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    Emma Braun

    General Counsel and Company Secretary | Melbourne Water

    What are the most significant cases or transactions that your legal team has recently been involved in? 

    The legal team has recently been involved in two large transactions, the first, relating to the re-tendering and awarding of a contract for maintenance and minor capital works and the second, relating to the re-tendering of the organisation’s panel of contractors providing minor field services. We are also a party to a significant piece of litigation and have several regulatory processes coming up in the next few months relating to planning scheme amendments. During the past year we have engaged in ongoing dialogue with external regulators to strengthen our relationships with them. Finally, we have been providing the organisation with support regarding governance requirements both for addressing climate change in our strategic planning processes and for dealing with cybersecurity threats.

    How do you feel the pandemic has changed the world of work for in-house counsel and the function of the general counsel?  

    In my view, the pandemic has changed the world of work for in house counsel in two respects: firstly, from an organisational perspective, it has increased the level of visibility to the importance of the in-house legal function and the need to have in house lawyers tightly integrated with the business to work though cross functional challenges. Secondly, from a logistical perspective, it has highlighted the benefits and challenges of legal teams being required to work from home. Experienced legal professionals are self-sufficient and comfortable working from home, however, all legal professionals (and particularly team members who are new to the organisation or more junior team members) benefit greatly from working together in a team atmosphere. Working as a team, where everyone is physically proximate, facilitates learning about and understanding the risk appetite of a new business, the organisation’s culture, and makes it easier to bounce an idea off a colleague. It is also much easier to learn by osmosis from observing how more senior colleagues conduct themselves (for example, in running a negotiation).

    Looking forward, what technological advancements do you feel will impact the role of in-house legal teams in the future the most?

    In my view, the technological advancements that will impact the role of in-house legal teams the most in the future, are those that will assist the legal team demonstrate its value in a clear and measurable way via metrics, and those that will assist the legal team to deal with “low level” work in an efficient way to enable the team to focus on the work that most needs the team’s expertise.

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