France 2016 – GC Powerlist

France 2016

  • Industries

  • Powerlist

Adam Smith

group general counsel | Safran

With almost 30 years of experience under his belt, Adam Smith is one the most experienced GCs currently active in the French market. Smith joined multinational aerospace and defence corporation...

Adele Zangs

vice president legal and business affairs | Deezer

‘We pride ourselves in the legal department about the fact that we keep things running smoothly despite the fact we are a small team’. Adele Zangs, vice president of legal...

Agnès Bardel

head of legal | Euro Cargo Rail France

Euro Cargo Rail (ECR), a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn and the first private railway undertaking in France, appointed Agnès Bardel as head of legal in 2009. Having begun her career...

Alexander Lunshof

corporate senior vice president, group chief legal officer | Essilor International

Alexander Lunshof is the chief legal officer of Essilor, a world leader in the production of ophthalmic lenses and optical equipment. The position of chief legal officer is not new...

Alexandre De Tourtier

group general counsel | Solocal Group

Solocal Group (previously PagesJaunes), is a leader in three different business lines; content and service provision, media and advertising representation and online media content. Alexandre De Tourtier handles the legal...

Alexandre Marcotte

director legal - decorative paints | AkzoNobel

Having worked with global companies, such as Saint-Gobain and Volkswagen, for the majority of his career, Alexandre Marcotte is well suited to his current role of director legal for AkzoNobel’s...

Alexandre Menais

group general counsel | Atos

Atos is an international information technology company working with clients across a wide variety of market sectors. The challenges for the legal team run deeply through the company’s history, with...

Anne-Laure Nguyen-Fitzgerald

director & legal counsel | SNA Europe

With a PhD in international law at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Asia and a lecturer in Paris and Thailand between 1993 and 1998, Anne-Laure Nguyen-Fitzgerald left her academic...

Anne-Sophie Le Lay

general counsel | Renault

Anne-Sophie Le Lay is responsible for overseeing Renault’s global legal activities and acts as advisor to the board of directors. She joined the company in 2001 to help oversee the...

Antoine Genevois

general counsel - reactors and services business group | AREVA Group

Antoine Genevois has over 12 years of understanding of AREVA Group’s business across the USA and Europe, having held a number of roles. During that time he has reorganised the...

Arnauld van Eeckhout

general counsel | Bouygues Telecom

Arnold van Eeckhout joined Bouygues group in 1993 and was appointed to the position of general counsel and member of the general management committee in 1995. He has worked on...

Aymar de Franqueville

general counsel | Adecco Groupe France

Aymar de Franqueville, general counsel at human resources company Adecco, runs his team so that ‘the legal department is a business line as any other’, but one focusing on compliance...

Aymeric Flamant

general counsel | AXA Investment Managers

Aymeric Flamant has an impressive academic background holding a Master’s Degree in both business law and public-private partnerships as well as an executive diploma from Wharton University. After graduating he...

Bastien Soret

group general counsel | Elis

Bastien Soret has been leading the legal departments of international companies for over 16 years. Taking the reins at Elis, a leader in the rental of textiles and hygiene equipment,...

Benoit Balmary

group general counsel | Michelin

Benoit Balmary oversees the 20 legal departments housed within global automotive giant Michelin Group. Balmary took up his current position of group general counsel in 2014 and has since won...

Boubakar Dione

group general counsel | Bpifrance

Graduating from the University of Rennes and beginning his career in 1990 with PwC Legal and Tax, Boubakar Dione began his journey with Bpifrance in 2006, when the company was...

Carlos Döring

legal director, corporate finance and treasury | Alcatel-Lucent

Carlos Döring portrays a multi-cultural understanding that has allowed him to conduct M&A projects in more than 20 countries. As legal director for corporate finance and treasury at French telecommunications...

Carol Xueref

secretary general | Essilor International

Carol Xueref is one of the most respected in-house lawyers in Europe, having excelled in a number of high-profile roles while contributing significantly to a range of professional legal bodies....

Cécile Russeil

chief legal officer | Ubisoft

Cécile Russeil first joined video game developer and publisher Ubisoft in 1990, as personal assistant to the CEO. Without a legal background or training she started working on all major...

Christine Maury-Panis

executive vice president, general counsel | Viaccess-Orca

Beginning her career in-house with Christian Dior, Christine Maury-Panis’ first in-house legal role consisted of supporting the high fashion brand on trademarks and compliance with competition law, at a time...

Christophe Dickès

global copyright director - reputation intelligence | Kantar Media

Learned in Political Science and History of Media, Christophe Dickès started his journey with Press Index, a technology leader in media watch and monitoring, in 1999. Building his career towards...

Clémentine Baldon

deputy legal director competition | Bouygues Telecom

As deputy legal director for competition, Clémentine Baldon has reorganised the workings of her legal team to take on a more digital form by introducing IT and other collaborative tools....

Cristophe Brie

legal director | Sonepar France

Cristophe Brie is an accomplished general counsel with particular expertise in compliance and risk management. With a career spanning over 25 years in the law, Brie began his career at...

Delphine Jacquemont

general counsel gas and deputy general counsel international | EDF

Delphine Jacquemont has held the combined function of general counsel gas, since 2008, and deputy general counsel international since 2015. She first joined EDF in 1991 to negotiate contracts for...

Didier Moutard

general counsel | Groupe Duval

Groupe Duval is a family-owned company that holds a number of entities across many sectors, some of which are listed on the French Stock Exchange and others that are private....

Dominique Bourrinet

group general counsel | Société Générale

Dominique Bourrinet is ultimately responsible for all legal matters in each of Société Générale’s markets and oversees a team of more than 1,000 lawyers globally. His role at the French...

Edouard Picant

legal director - GBU Special Chem | Solvay

‘One of my ambitions as a young lawyer was to show that law and business functions are able to be experienced together’, an ambition that Edouard Picant has achieved by...

Elliott Beard

assistant general counsel – commercial | Becton Dickinson

Elliott Beard worked for Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s corporate practice group for four years in New York and three years in Paris before joining Becton Dickinson’s EMEA law division in...

Elodie Lalanne-Larrieu

head of legal | Valorem

Elodie Lalanne-Larrieu joined renewable energy operator Valorem in 2008. The legal department, which she created as one of her first tasks at the company, comprises of four lawyers that manage...

Emilie Montané

director of media and production | Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT)

Emilie Montané has an impressive diversity of past experiences, having begun her career in the automobile industry dealing with intellectual property matters followed by multiple roles with Universal Studios Channels...

Eric Le Cann

general counsel | SODICA

SODICA is part of Crédit Agricole Group’s Private Equity & Finance Division (CACIF) and Eric Le Cann has been general counsel for the past seven years. SODICA specialises in long-term...

Florence Guéry

head of legal | Neoen

Florence Guéry began her legal career in private practice law firms and also spent time in the legal service of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Making the...

Florence Louis-Joseph

head of legal Western Europe | PayPal

Prior to joining PayPal, Florence Louis-Joseph worked with numerous companies in the telecommunications industry including Global Tele Systems and Global Crossing (now Level 3) in France, the Netherlands and the...

Franck Raimbault

senior vice president HR legal | Air France

Most of Franck Raimbault’s legal career has been dedicated to Air France, the French flag carrier airline. He joined the company headquarters in 1995 after his role as a researcher...

Franck Tassan

group general counsel | Carrefour

Franck Tassan previously served as an in-house lawyer at PSA Peugeot Citroen, before moving to Carrefour in 1996 as a senior international lawyer. In 2000 he became the legal director...

Francois-Xavier Olivieri

director legal and regulation - energy management and trading | Engie

Francois-Xavier Olivieri has been part of France’s gas sector since 1998 when he joined the Gaz de France Group (GDF) (which was later turned into GDF SUEZ and now Engie),...

Frédéric Hérault

director of legal and social affairs | Champagne Roederer

The Champagne Roederer group, a seventh generation family-run business, specialises in the production of fine wines from the iconic region in France. With continuous expansion over the years, the group...

Frédéric Lorin

financial lawyer- EMEA Equity Capital Markets | BNP Paribas

Frédéric Lorin, previously a financial lawyer at Crédit Agricole, is now financial lawyer – EMEA equity capital markets at BNP Paribas, the French multinational bank and financial services company. Since...

Frédéric Vern

vice president, legal affairs Europe | Ivanhoé Cambridge Europe

Frédéric Vern has been part of the real estate industry since his first role as a lawyer at Freshfields (2002), which he continued at Mayer Brown where he dealt with...

Frédérique Berthier

deputy general counsel | Imerys

Frédérique Berthier has been instrumental in the successful completion of over 50 M&A projects over a period of seven years covering over 40 countries. ‘Mergers and acquisitions are an absolute...

Gadi Oron

director general | International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) represents 230 authors’ societies in 120 countries. The legal function has switched focus from internal matters to dealing with worldwide...

George Stansfield

group general counsel and head of group human resources | AXA Global

‘In France in 1996; if someone said to me I would be general counsel of the entire group I would have said “impossible as I am not a French lawyer”...

Guillaume Hecketsweiler

general counsel | Air France-KLM

Guillaume Hecketsweiler was appointed general counsel at Air-France-KLM in 2014 and holds joint responsibility, alongside corporate secretary Jacques Le Pap, for implementing the group’s legal strategy and policies. Hecketsweiler began...

Guillaume Nonain

vice president, legal - EMEA cluster and France | Brink’s

Guillaume Nonain’s career highlight came during the win of an antitrust claim presented against a major competitor; the victory allowed an entire business line to carry on functioning and flourish....

Harald Peter Knöbl

general counsel | Engie E&P International

Despite his many years spent in academia, Harald Peter Knöbl broke away from the normal path of a lawyer and opted to work directly in-house with the German subsidiary of...

Ian Kayanakis

vice president, head of legal region, general counsel France | Atos

Ian Kayanakis’ legal career began as a Paris Bar attorney and at Lazareff & Associés, one of the most reputable names in international arbitration. Given this foundation, Kayanakis was well...

Ingrid Berteyn

legal manager- Europe real estate department | Decathlon International

Ingrid Berteyn first joined Decathlon in 2000 as a real estate lawyer, a position she held for eight years after which she was promoted to legal manager for the entire...

Isabelle Misakoglu

director group legal and human resources | Senoble

Isabelle Misakoglu joined Senoble in 1997 as the first in-house lawyer the company employed since its inception in 1921. Senoble is one of Europe’s largest fresh dairy producers with a...

Isabelle Perret-Noto

head of legal and compliance | BNP Paribas Personal Finance

The departments of legal and compliance of BNP Paribas Personal Finance, a leader in France and Europe for personal loans via its activities in consumer credit and mortgage lending, are...

Isabelle Roux-Chenu

group general counsel | Capgemini

In 1998 Isabelle Roux-Chenu joined Capgemini, the management consultancy with expertise in technology and outsourcing, when there was no serving in-house legal support. One of her first improvements was to...

Ivan Alamilla

legal department manager | Vivescia

Ivan Alamilla graduated as a lawyer in his native Mexico in 1999 (Universidad La Salle). Already fluent in Spanish and English, he added French to his repertoire whilst studying Business...

Jean-Benoit Devauges

deputy general counsel | Renault

Jean-Benoit Devauges joined Renault in 2000 after spells at the Foreign Service, where he spent 15 months in India with the French Foreign Minister, completing the bar exam and then...

Jean-Marc Guillot

head of litigation & arbitration | Veolia Environment

In 2013 the position of head of litigation and arbitration at Veolia Environment was created for Jean-Marc Guillot. Involved in the re-organisation of the utilities, water and waste management branches...

Jeremy Leach

group general counsel and secretary to the board | Constellium

Jeremy Leach has been vice president, group general counsel and secretary to the board of the global producer of aluminium semi-products Constellium, since January 2011. Since the inception of the...

Jérémy Rousseau

Deputy general counsel – Diversification | TF1 Group

Jérémy Rousseau joined the litigation department of TF1, a private French television channel, in 2001 where he dealt with the contentious press, criminal offences and the litigation for the business’...

Jérôme Perlemuter

head of legal affairs | Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP)

Jérôme Perlemuter joined the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) 11 years ago, and ‘always compares life at the French league to the TV show 24, every day is a new...

Joëlle Simon

director of legal affairs | Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF)

Joëlle Simon is the first non-American to receive the US Chamber of Commerce award, presented to her at the 16th Annual Legal Reform Summit for her dedication to the protection...

Johan Gerrese

Vice President & General Counsel- EMEA France | Alcatel-Lucent

Johan Gerrese, vice president and general counsel at leading telecoms provider Alcatel-Lucent, is one of the most experienced global counsel working in Europe. Over a period of 20 years, Gerrese...

John Harrison

group general counsel | Airbus Group

John Harrison was appointed group general counsel, a newly created position within the executive committee of the Airbus Group, in 2015. His new role consolidates the three functions of corporate...

Karen Linehan

executive vice president & general counsel | Sanofi

From 1977 to 1986 Karen Linehan served on the congressional staff for the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. She then moved to work as an associate at a...

Laetitia Ménasé

director corporate law, mergers and acquisitions | Vivendi

Fostering communication between the different services of the Vivendi group, Laetitia Ménasé has put in place a truly effective legal team allowing ‘them to be less isolated in their work...

Laurent Durand

associate general counsel and co-head of Global Banking and Markets | HSBC France

‘We are living in a challenging period, but also a very interesting evolution, where due to all these new constraints we have to reinvent our function and our way of...

Laurent Pitet

general counsel and compliance officer | Bayer HealthCare

The French Supreme Court granted a landmark decision on product liability and casual link due to the collective effort of a team managed by Laurent Pitet, now general counsel and...

Lise Pons

chief legal officer & real estate | Speedy France

In a previous role in the media and entertainment industry, Lise Pons created the legal function for UGC, one of the largest cinema operators in Europe. Leaving behind a fully...

Loïc Legouet

general counsel | Amundi Asset Management

Managing 105 full-time equivalent employees in 21 businesses scattered across 11 different jurisdictions, is in itself a challenging assignment. Loïc Legouet has implemented an ingenious and efficient legal business line...

Marc Bergmann

senior vice president, general counsel M&A and strategic purchasing | Gemalto

Marc Bergmann has offered his services to the in-house part of the legal sector for 25 years, with both international and regional expertise across the technology and energy sectors. He...

Maria Gomri

legal director - head of France, Middle East and North Africa | Google

Information technology

Maria Gomri joined Google France in in 2006 as a senior legal counsel and has made noticeable and numerous changes to the technology giant. Gomri has had many promotions during...

Marie Champey

director of intellectual property, digital and distribution | Accor Hotels

Accor Hotels have a portfolio of over 6000 trademarks and they operate in around 92 countries across the world with over 3500 hotels and 5000 domain names under their control....

Marie Even

legal director | Cdiscount

‘My experience at Cdiscount, and now Cnova, within France and internationally, is certainly one of the richest in my career’, says Marie Even who has been with the company since...

Marilyne Sullet-Duverbecq

group general counsel | Primonial

Marilyne Sullet-Duverbecq spent time working at law firms in France, Monaco and Italy, prior to her in-house stint in 2000 where she launched the legal department for the Neurocom Group,...

Mark Rollinger

group chief legal officer | Groupe PSA

Mark Rollinger joined PSA Peugeot Citroën (now Groupe PSA) in 2013, taking charge of a legal department that was known for its small size relative to both the company’s market...

Matthieu Bernat

managing counsel Europe | Renault

Achieving a meteoric rise within the company he joined in 2008, by 2011 Matthieu Bernat was made responsible for the management of a team and in 2014 became the managing...

Maurice Bensadoun

legal director | Veolia Water

Maurice Bensadoun joined the water division of transnational water, waste and energy management company Veolia as chief of legal and insurance counsel in 2011, responsible for a team of 200...

Michel Berger

general counsel exploration and production | Total

‘Among the number of responsibilities I have had to cope with, in my career in and outside the legal function, the most exciting and rewarding of all has certainly been...

Michel Friocourt

CEO advisor | Kering Group

‘The lawyer must ensure to be both a generalist open to the world and its cultures and work tirelessly on his technique (as a pianist for example). There is no...

Miguel Videira Pimentão

legal director and corporate counsel- France and Southern Europe | Zoetis

Miguel Videira Pimentão began his legal career as an associate attorney at magic circle law firm Clifford Chance. Based in their Paris office with a working knowledge of five languages,...

Nicolas Petrovic

general counsel France | Sodexo

Nicolas Petrovic spent eight years at top business law firm August et Debouzy, working in their regulatory, litigation, contract IT and technology departments before moving in-house in 2007. Petrovic joined...

Olivier Kodjo

group head of legal | Solairedirect

Before moving in-house in 2011, Olivier Kodjo thrived for 10 years at law firms including Coudert Brothers, Lefèvre Pelletier & associés, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Dentons. During this private...

Patrick Remot

legal director and chief compliance officer | Clear Channel France

Patrick Remot is the legal director and chief compliance officer at Clear Channel France, the mass media organisation and recently a subsidiary of iHeartMedia. He started his career at a...

Patrizia Marraghini

head of international legal department | Keolis

‘From my perspective what is significant in a post is the person who manages the post not the post itself. What I want to explain is that the motivation and...

Paul Lanois

Assistant vice president and senior legal counsel for cross-border legal | Credit Suisse

Paul Lanois, senior legal counsel of cross-border legal at Credit Suisse, extends his responsibility to business initiatives across EMEA and guides the development of marketing tools such as online tools...

Philippe Chavasse

deputy general counsel | Fives Group

Philippe Chavasse has, with the assistance of the IT services of Fives Group, interweaved technology modernisation throughout the legal department. A software application allows him to have a clear interpretation...

Philippe Clerc

head of legal affairs and deputy director | Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)

Philippe Clerc is a distinguished and a well-respected expert in the field of space law, having worked in the somewhat niche market for over 25 years. Currently acting as the...

Philippe Jutard

group general counsel and company secretary | Compagnie des Alpes

Philippe Jutard has put in place mechanisms that enable legal to be at the heart of Compagnie des Alpes, providing swift and homogenous guidance to all entities and departments ‘without...

Philippe Prouvost

senior executive director - corporate legal affairs & secretary of the board | Pernod Ricard

After working as a private practice lawyer in the late 1990s Philippe Prouvost moved in-house to join AXA, the French multinational insurance firm, in 1999. As corporate legal counsel there,...

Rémi Dujon

general counsel for Orange business services - legal and regulatory team | Orange

Rémi Dujon has been part of the legal function at Orange for almost 20 years, having held various positions after first joining as legal counsel in 1997. Dujon has played...

Rémi Leonforte

General counsel – Kering Italia and luxury goods international | Kering Group

Remi Leonforte’s academic history includes both finance and law which is reflected in roles in banking and financial services prior to joining PPR (now Kering), the French holding company for...

Renalda Harfouche

regional general counsel - EMEA and chief counsel IP and technologies – global procurement, | Ipsos

With long-term in-house legal experience covering a number of internationally focussed companies, Renalda Harfouche brings both understanding and a diverse skillset to her current role at Ipsos, the global market...

Sabine Martinon

general counsel Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa | Accor Hotels

Sabine Martinon has been a part of the Accor Hotels Group since 2006, with her initial role providing legal support to the marketing and distribution departments as well as real...

Sandrine Rambaud

legal director France | IMS Health

Sandrine Rambaud provides the legal assistance needed for IMS Health to provide information, services, solutions and technology to improve the performance of companies operating in the health care market. Having...

Sébastien Niogret

chief legal counsel France | Schneider Electric

Sébastien Niogret joined Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, as a trainee in 2002. After only a few months the then group general counsel offered him...

Sophie Saden

general counsel | Astorg Partners

As general counsel, Sophie Saden has responsibility for the legal aspects of fundraising at Astorg Partners, a private equity fund with offices in Paris, London and Luxembourg. Saden participates on...

Stéphanie Le Coq de Kerland

general counsel services and networks | Nexity

Prior to her current role, Stéphanie Le Coq de Kerland spent seven years with the law firm Fidal during which time she was tasked with the incorporation of the firms’...

Valentine Poylo

Head of intellectual property – industrial partnerships SNCF Réseau | SNCF Réseau

Valentine Poylo previously worked with the French Navy in the Fleet Support Service, being responsible for the maintenance of ships for the Ministry of Defence. She is acknowledged for her...

Vanessa Hespel-Perin

director of legal affairs | Reed Midem

Vanessa Hespel-Perin was first offered the opportunity to move in-house to manage the legal affairs of RELX France, the owner of publishers Lexis Nexis, Elsevier Masson and Fricosoft and Reed...

William Wostyn

group chief legal & compliance officer | Viel & Cie

‘Having the benefit of legal privilege is a critical need in our global environment nowadays’ proclaims William Wostyn, who has served investment company Viel & Cie since 1999. In 2004...

Xavier Ragot

group general counsel | Christian Louboutin

The legal department of the renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin is a surprisingly new entity considering the world-wide fame of the company’s brand. The department was created in 2009 when...

Yannick Chalme

group general counsel | L’Oréal

L’Oréal’s group general counsel Yannick Chalme has been with the cosmetics company for 15 years, helping to protect its world-renowned brands in the face of growing infringement globally. His profile...

For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: France, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region.

We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across France, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. The GC Powerlist: France features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.

If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: France, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in France or global), please do get in touch at

We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.

David Burgess

Publishing Director

DS Avocats

DS Avocats logo

Slow growth in Europe, and particularly the Eurozone has dominated headlines for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking European businesses have backtracked. France is often singled out as a case study on how low growth, high state expenditure, and heavy regulations have caused businesses to regress. As this Powerlist demonstrates, the reality is quite different.

France is home to some of the European largest, and strongest companies producing goods and services that are in global demand. France is also recognized as a European centre for innovation, with high-growth technology companies which form a booming and visible part of the French economy. Moreover, French businesses are staffed by managers and professional advisers who are widely considered to be amongst the best in the world, French corporate counsels are no exception. To stand out from the crowd in this environment takes a rare combination of technical knowledge, commercial acumen, strategic wisdom, interpersonal and managerial skills.

DS Avocats is delighted to support the GC Powerlist France and help recognise the leading figures of France’s internationally-renowned in-house community. A strong and vibrant French economy is key to the future of Europe, and those featured in this list will play an important role to prompt the ‘French Touch’ even further. DS Avocats shares their passion, their thorough knowledge of the various sector specifics, their excellent advice and innovative approaches to law which enhance the businesses within their strategic growth and reinforcement of their market position. Like those featured in this Powerlist, we are constantly reflecting on various improvements of the legal services we provide through efficient methods as well as the role of the attorney within a changing business world.

However, we also believe that legal advice should be provided as simple as possible, without a vision of ‘over-simplification’. The interests of businesses are not served by avoiding the complexities of law. Professional advisers who can contribute to the success of a transaction, of a business or a strategic plan without losing sight of the legal complexities that may arise are truly unique. The members of this Powerlist have all managed to achieve this in their own way. We at DS Avocats share their approach.

We should not limit the professional relationship between law firms and clients to a simple commercial approach, but rather create a long-term relationship based on trust and viability. Sharing the same values as those individuals we represent is key to a collective future profession of the Law.

On behalf of all the Partners at DS Avocats, I would like to congratulate the Corporate Counsels included in the first GC Powerlist for France.

DS Avocats est particulièrement fier de s’associer à Legal 500 pour le lancement, en France, d’une initiative exclusivement dédiée à la distinction des directeurs juridiques.

Cet événement majeur nous offre l’occasion d’appréhender, ensemble, la meilleure façon de relever les défis de notre temps.

Green Summit Finland 2023

The Green Summit Finland 2023, hosted by Castrén & Snellman in Helsinki on 7 June 2023, marked the eight event in our Green Summit series associated with The Legal 500’s Global Green Guide, and the second time we held the summit in Finland. The event brought together leading practitioners and in-house counsel from across the country and region to discuss the legal sector’s contribution to a green transition.

Sakari Lukinmaa, managing partner at Castrén & Snellman, and Anna Bauböck, Global Green Guide editor at The Legal 500 kicked off the summit with a welcome address and some opening remarks.

Anna Kuusniemi-Laine, partner and head of sustainability at Castrén & Snellman, proceeded to chair the first panel which examined the evolving role of the general counsel and corporate legal teams. In this first discussion, the audience heard from speakers at frontrunner companies in the region: Nora Steiner-Forsberg, general counsel at Fortum; Christian Ståhlberg, general counsel at Neste; and Taru Uotila, general counsel at Aspo.

Kuusniemi-Laine set the scene before the discussion, pointing towards how today’s various crises from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine can in fact accelerate progress. Many companies in the region have strengthened their ESG commitments, yet ESG risks and opportunities are changing, and ESG issues are increasingly investigated or taken to court.

A key take-away of the first panel was that sustainable business is the only option, and a key theme was the powerful role inhouse counsel play when it comes to ESG and a green transition due to the influence legal teams can have in corporate decision-making. As Uotila put it: The legal department is there to achieve company goals, and those goals need to involve sustainability if the company wants to survive – therefore ESG is inevitably an integral part of the legal teams’ job.

Lawyers’ role is to balance those ESG risks and opportunities. As Steiner-Forsberg pointed out, lawyers should turn the current ESG regulatory tsunami into a business case, finding the benefits rather than focusing on the burden it may present.

Ståhlberg proposed the adoption of a holistic view, looking at the big picture. He stressed that creating a sustainable business is the only long-term solution, that businesses also need to remain profitable, and that therefore companies need to be innovative. In his opinion, lawyers should think about influencing with a long-term vision.

Two other main points of the discussion around the evolution of the GC role included: firstly, lawyers cannot work in silos, need to talk to colleagues in different functions, and need to stay curious, open minded and up-to-speed; and secondly, legal interpretation forms only a small part of lawyers’ role – today it’s about so much more than mere technical implementation.

After a lively Q&A session followed by a short coffee break, the second panel, chaired by Minna Korhonen, partner at Castrén & Snellman, looked at current trends in sustainable finance and the financing of the net zero transition. The audience heard from speakers and experts Juho Maalahti, country lead sustainable finance advisory at Nordea Bank; Antti Malava, head of sustainability insights & analytics at Danske Bank; and Vilppu Tarvainen, head of DCM Finland & Baltics at SEB.

First, the discussion focused on the context of the Nordic market: The Nordics have been frontrunners in sustainable finance with regulation driving the market, as well as a fear of missing out mentality, especially on the capital markets side. Maalahti illustrated this by pointing to the fact that 60% of corporate bonds were issued under the ESG umbrella in the Nordics, compared to around 30% across Europe.

Malava highlighted that today investors want to associate investments with something good for the world. Referring to the interplay between supply and demand, Tarvainen commented that the demand for sustainable finance was there, and regulation has helped to give it more supply. He added that there has been such a shift in balance that there is now a chance of running out of green assets.

A central part of the discussion revolved around the hot topic of greenwashing. All speakers agreed that the market is currently trying to understand what constitutes greenwashing, there is still no common definition and a great need for regulators to establish this. In particular, this needs to involve the distinction between intentional and unintentional greenwashing

Maalahti stressed how terminology matters, and also drew attention to the fact that some regulation hasn’t worked out the way it was intended. Tarvainen additionally commented on the problem of inverse greenwashing: What is sustainable enough; what is credible in investors’ eyes? He gave the example of a very sustainable product in a very unsustainable company. Malava illustrated how ESG ratings are measuring different things because of a lack of clear definitions.

When Korhonen asked about the scope of comparative data, Malava questioned the possibility of making data comparable when it is being measured differently. Again, the speakers agreed on the need for increased standardisation. As Tarvainen summed it up: We currently have lots of pieces of a big puzzle, but we don’t yet know how they need to be put together.

After another engaging Q&A from the audience and some brief closing remarks from Kuusniemi-Laine, the evening was rounded off by a drinks reception giving participants and speakers a chance to mingle, network and continue the conversation.