The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: France 2022 is the first edition since the Covid-19 crisis. It contains diverse topics, as conversations with general counsel touched on everything including legal technology, climate concerns, strategy and more. Despite the overall uncertainty of the markets, esteemed counsel in this edition revealed their plans to establish business longevity and how they maintain the vitalness of the in-house legal function.
The in-house community report drastic changes to their roles, companies and general outlook caused by the pandemic. Most in-house lawyers shared that they had to adapt their leadership style to ensure their team members overall wellbeing. The health crisis also ‘accelerated the use of technologies’ within in-house teams, as reported by John Harrison, general counsel, corporate secretary, and chairman of Airbus. Some of the ingenious ways technology is used is with regards to ‘centralised e-billing systems for the use of law firms to allow the tracking of legal expenses, management of budget on a real time basis and a dedicated legal entities information management system allowing them to follow the corporate life of all legal entities’ among many others.
An increased importance of in-house lawyers is growing across France. General counsel in the country when asked their thoughts on the growing trend, admitted the successive global crises such as Covid, the Ukraine crisis among others, expedited their significance within their organisations. The role of general counsel seems to have massively expanded beyond an advisory role, to include leadership and guidance outside of their usual ambit.
As put by the general counsel of Arc, Joel Corcessin, ‘the role of the general counsel within French companies is evolving, expanding beyond the habitual legal topics, such as ESG. I expect this tendency will continue and accelerate in the coming years.’ Despite the economic instability the French economy is facing, general counsel are motivated to lead their companies through this successfully. Ivan Alamilla, head of contracts at Vivescia admits that the identification and adherence to values will be important for his team to make it through this time, ‘without good, highly qualified, and determined people, no business can resist all the recent challenges. My team has kept our dearest values: solidarity, transparency, and professionalism’.
As much as these crises have ushered in a renewed reputation for the in-house community in France, it has not come without its challenges. The looming challenge now for organisations in France would be conducting ‘business as far as usual’ in a vastly volatile and unstable market. The overwhelming response to this from the in-house counsel in this edition, was that these challenges are just another opportunity to develop and prove the agility and value of the legal team within companies.
On the topic of ESG and the general sentiments in France, legal director of Eiffage construction says that climate concerns are increasingly important in her organisation, and they are taking massive steps in that direction. She likens her role to one of ‘a lawyer on one hand and then a legal manager/ ‘watchdog’ on the other hand’. David Zeitoun, group general counsel of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, adds that ‘in addition to the Group’s sustainable development strategy, each employee has at least one personal objective related to climate change’.
It was an honour to speak with all counsel included in this edition. I would like to congratulate all of you on this amazing achievement of being on this Powerlist of the top in-house counsel in France.
Melissa Yebisi | Lead researcher GC Powerlist France 2022
It is a privilege for Addleshaw Goddard to support the Legal 500 GC Powerlist 2022: France, less than two years after the launch of our Paris office. Most of you know that I spent the first 15 years of my career in-house, so I am personally very happy to be involved in this event.
On behalf of Addleshaw Goddard, I congratulate you all individually and collectively on your very well deserved inclusion in this elite collection of the most inspirational general counsel in our community.
After a very challenging period for us all both professionally and personally, the world in which we operate has changed profoundly, continues to change and is not going back to how it used to be. The current disruptive environment and pressures affecting all businesses requires each of us to change, develop and respond as positively as we can.
I am sure that view is shared by all those listed in this year’s Powerlist and I applaud the exceptional leadership role you are each playing to successfully navigate both domestic and global legal and commercial challenges in support of your organisation’s strategic ambitions.
Whatever the sector, solving problems requires imaginative solutions, which in turn requires fresh perspectives.
The diversity of talent in this year’s Powerlist is certainly a timely reminder of the all-round excellence and resilience of General Counsel operating across the business community. Their achievements reveal how well our profession is developing clever solutions to complex legal challenges, often through better use of technology, as well as by finding opportunities to bring real competitive advantage. The cream of this year’s French GCs are without a doubt also distinguishing themselves through a determination to bring even greater value to their organisations through a more strategic, broader contribution in response to an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment.
At Addleshaw Goddard, we understand the challenges faced by the in-house community and together with our clients, we solve them with the same, single-minded focus. We always ask: ‘What’s the smartest route to the biggest impact?’
We all know that tomorrow’s problems won’t be solved with yesterday’s answers. And, we believe that good business demands good legal advice. Which, ultimately, comes down to just four words. Yes. No. Stop. Go.
The most effective lawyers in both private practice and on the front-line in-house, are those who get close to the business, who recognise that one size doesn’t fit all, and who, are constantly looking to bring more quality, imagination and impact to every aspect of their work.
Those three characteristics underpin the client-shaped mindset we embrace at Addleshaw Goddard. Each year, over 3,000 leading companies and finance players around the world trust us to deliver. We help them in multiple industries and in over 90 countries. Not just once, but again and again. Many of our 48 FTSE100 clients have been with us for more than 20 years: one for 150.
GCs too must focus on consistently providing their own internal stakeholders with outstanding service delivery, time and again. The 2022 France Powerlist is a fantastic celebration of those senior in-house lawyers who have demonstrated the vision, passion and resolve to bring imagination to their decision-making, leadership to their teams and real impact to their organisations. We salute you all. Well done!
Rémy Blain – Head of Paris office Addleshaw Goddard
The Legal 500 was delighted to be back in Paris on 9th November, to celebrate the launch of the GC Powerlist France 2022! Our research editor Allan Cohen and private practice list development manager Ramesh Seegolam were joined by leading GCs from the country for a wonderful reception at the Peninsula Hotel, nearby the famous Arc de Triomphe.
A huge thank you to Addleshaw Goddard for sponsoring the publication and partnering with us to celebrate the best in-house legal talent in France. A special thanks to Rémy Blain (Partner at Addleshaw Goddard and Head of the firm’s Paris Office) and to Laurence Ballone-Burini (General Counsel at Eiffage Constructions) for speaking at the event and sharing their insights on the transformation of the role of in-house counsel and the importance for legal departments to build flexible and agile teams.