France Teams 2019 – GC Powerlist

France Teams 2019

  • Industries

  • Powerlist


| Accor

The Accor legal department is led from the front by François Pinon, who, in addition to his role as group legal director and secretary of the board, takes an innovative...

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Aéroports de Paris (Groupe ADP)

| Aéroports de Paris (Groupe ADP)

Aéroports de Paris, trading under Groupe ADP, historically made its mark through the operation of Paris’ main airports including Paris-Charles de Gaulle. It now operates 25 airports globally and is...

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Air France

| Air France

The 39 members of the Air France legal team have a demanding workload to regularly navigate. Among others, the diverse areas of transport, distribution, consumers and IP, corporate, contracts and...

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Air France- KLM

| Air France- KLM

Anne-Sophie Le Lay, formerly long-term group general counsel of Renault, leads the highly capable Air France-KLM legal function, which is the group-level legal function responsible for the immense Air France-KLM...

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Air Liquide

| Air Liquide

Supporting the operations of the world’s leading industrial gas supplier, the Air Liquide legal team supports a number of interesting initiatives. In late 2017, the company signed an agreement with...

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| Airbus

A company which is among the most famous in the world, Airbus boasts a legal and compliance team to match its stellar reputation, with approximately 450 individuals globally, Airbus has...

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ALD Automotive

| ALD Automotive

Céline Castillon-Valéro took over the lead of ALD Automotive’s legal function on April 2019, taking over from Amélie de Valroger in the process. The team is seven in number and...

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| Amundi

Led by Loïc Legouet and composed of 114 full-time employees across France and 14 other countries including the US, UK, Luxembourg, Ireland and Italy, the Amundi legal team contains a...

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| Arkema

Arkema maintains a highly organised and extremely effective legal department of 75 individuals across three regional hubs – EMEA, Americas and Asia Pacific – across six offices led by group...

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| Astorg

Private equity group Astorg possesses a legal team which punches above its weight in support of the group’s objectives. The team is led by general counsel Sophie Saden, who has...

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| Atos

Atos’ 240-strong legal team is among the best-performing large in-house legal teams headquartered in France and contains top-quality lawyers from top to bottom. Among its senior staff, Alexandre Menais (Group...

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Auchan Retail International

| Auchan Retail International

Boasting €50bn in revenue for 2018 and a workforce of approximately 355,000 people, Auchan Retail International is one of the world’s largest employers, a fact which alone means its legal...

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AXA Group Operations

| AXA Group Operations

AXA Group has recently centralised most of its support functions via a Group Operations division, which includes a group legal department. The newly-created AXA Group Operations (AXA GO) legal team...

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Bayer HealthCare

| Bayer HealthCare

Laurent Pitet, an extremely well respected legal director and compliance officer in his own right, has a highly competent legal team supporting Bayer Healthcare’s company objectives. ‘Each team member has...

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BNP Paribas M&A Legal

| BNP Paribas M&A Legal

Responsible for the management of all legal aspects of M&A transactions for BNP Paribas Group entities and business lines around the world, the BNP Paribas M&A legal team is an...

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| Bouygues

There has been movement at the top of Bouygues, as Arnauld Van Eeckhout was appointed group general counsel in June 2018. He brings unparalleled experience to the role, given that...

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| Bpifrance

The approximately 70-strong legal department of Bpifrance is headed by an extremely well-qualified team of senior lawyers and departmental heads, overseen by group general counsel Boubakar Dione. Sophie Paquin is...

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Bureau Veritas

| Bureau Veritas

Certification powerhouse Bureau Veritas maintains an extremely competent legal, risk and compliance department which provides enhanced risk avoidance through the close cooperation of these functions. August 2019 saw the company...

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Canal+ Group

| Canal+ Group

Perhaps the most prominent event in the CANAL+ Group’s recent business calendar came in May 2019 with its acquisition of M7 for €1bn. This extremely strategically important move, which the...

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| Capgemini

Group general counsel and group executive committee member Maria Pernas leads the legal team of Capgemini that contains approximately 200 lawyers, data protection officers and support staff worldwide. Operating on...

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| Carrefour

Carrefour has more than 115,000 employees in France alone, has a strong international presence and has more than 120 businesses in the Group, making it among Europe’s strongest retail brands....

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| Ceetrus

A major international mixed real estate developer, Ceetrus is also a subsidiary of French multinational retail group Auchan Holding. Ceetrus act as a global urban player who meets people and...

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| Chanel

Chanel’s leading position in the fashion world is mirrored by the excellence of its well-structured and highly regarded legal team. The team received a number of nominations during the research...

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Christian Dior

| Christian Dior

Leading luxury goods producer Christian Dior has seen movement among the senior ranks of its legal team as of late, with new top talent being added. The team has recently...

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Led by director of legal and public affairs Cristina Perpiñá-Robert Navarro, and overseen by director general and expert lawyer Gadi Oron, the CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and...

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Clear Channel France

| Clear Channel France

The Clear Channel France legal and compliance team is led by Patrick Remot and structured according to three departments: compliance, private law (headed by Naouel Khellaf) and public law and...

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| Coface

A major player in the global insurance market with a presence in a number of jurisdictions, Coface maintains a well-regarded and highly skilled legal team located across multiple continents. It...

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Compagnie des Alpes

| Compagnie des Alpes

Compagnie des Alpes is responsible for running some of the most popular ski resorts and amusement parks across Europe, including France’s second-most popular tourist attraction, Parc Astérix. The 10-strong legal...

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Covivio Real Estate

| Covivio Real Estate

An extremely successful real estate investment trust, which was known as Foncière des Régions until 2018, Covivio’s real estate legal department has five in-house lawyers and ‘places a high priority...

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Crédit Agricole

| Crédit Agricole

Led by general counsel Didier Moutard who is ably supported at the apex of the team by vice general counsel Matthieu Gennot, Groupe Duval’s 14-person legal department has been extremely...

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| Danone

Continuing its eminent position in the global food sector, Danone achieved €24.65bn in revenues in 2018, over half of which came from its dairy and plant-based division. Its global presence...

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| Devialet

General counsel Annabelle Raguenet de Saint Albin has been with high-end speaker and amplifier producer Devialet since mid-2016, part of a small but very capable legal team that came in...

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| Edenred

Edenred’s dominance in the transactional solutions market – allowing companies to provide additional incentives to employees through the triple business lines of employee benefits, fleet and mobility solutions and complementary...

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EDF announced in December 2018 that a new professional would take leadership of its legal team. New legal director Sabine Le Gac has been a highly-respected member of the legal...

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| Eiffage

Construction powerhouse Eiffage possesses an expert legal team composed of both subject matter experts and versatile generalists. Among a number of projects which have borne fruit in recent months include...

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| Engie

Engie continued its excellent record of success in 2018 with revenues of €60.6bn posted at year end. Its legal team prizes excellent knowledge of the law and implications on the...

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| Essilor

The Essilor legal team combines entrepreneurial spirit with excellent legal and business knowledge, and operates as a true business partner. Led from the front by general counsel Alexander Lunshof, it...

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Euler Hermes

| Euler Hermes

The global nature of Euler Hermes’ operations means its legal team has to oversee a diverse workforce, also affording it ample opportunity to showcase its cross-border work. The company’s status...

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| Eurazeo

Eurazeo’s legal team is led by head of legal, general counsel and member of the executive committee Nicolas Huet, and ably supported by deputy general counsel Cécile Gilliet and Nathalie...

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Europcar Groupe

| Europcar Groupe

Europcar Groupe, one of the largest rental car companies in Europe with a 27% market share, possesses a high achieving in-house legal team deserving of recognition. The rental car giant...

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| Eutelsat

A leading player in the exciting satellite market, Eutelsat’s team of experienced lawyers are expert in negotiating satellite capacity agreements with the company’s regular customers in the television and radio...

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| Gameloft

A powerhouse in the already lucrative and rapidly-growing mobile games market, Gameloft was acquired by Vivendi in 2016 which led to a restructure of the 17-person legal team to meet...

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Led by Éric Boré and under the supervision of the group corporate secretary Stéphane Cassagne, the GEODIS legal team has 25 individuals among its ranks, organised under legal managers each...

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Groupe BPCE

| Groupe BPCE

Group legal director Céline Haye-Kiousis pairs her legal role with a position on the Group’s supervisory board, adding legal insight to strategic decision-making. May 2019 saw the signing of an...

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Groupe Casino

| Groupe Casino

Groupe Casino’s legal team is responsible for a vast portfolio of brands located in Europe, South America and Africa contributing to overall revenue of approximately €37bn for 2018. Recently the...

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Groupe Duval

| Groupe Duval

Led by general counsel Didier Moutard who is ably supported at the apex of the team by vice general counsel Matthieu Gennot, Groupe Duval’s 14-person legal department has been extremely...

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Groupe Fnac Darty

| Groupe Fnac Darty

The Groupe Fnac Darty legal team came in for particular praise from nominators for its excellent understanding of the complex omnichannel retailing sector in which it works, tailoring its advice...

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Groupe Lactalis

| Groupe Lactalis

Groupe Lactalis’ leading position in the global dairy market makes for a multibillion-dollar revenue stream annually and a wealth of strategic initiatives for its highly capable legal team to support....

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Groupe PSA

| Groupe PSA

Group PSA’s responsible for manufacturing automobiles and motorcycles under the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands. This provides the Groupe PSA legal team extremely complex supply chain and associated...

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Groupe Renault

| Groupe Renault

Groupe Renault’s legal team is based at the Boulogne-Billancourt headquarters and the Renault Technocentre, and is led by senior vice president, group general counsel Jean-Benoît Devauges and consists of six...

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Groupe SEB

| Groupe SEB

The Groupe SEB legal team has a total of 50 lawyers around the world – including one vice president of legal, Philippe Sumeire – and is organised along four lines...

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Hermès International

| Hermès International

The global nature of Euler Hermes’ operations means its legal team has to oversee a diverse workforce, also affording it ample opportunity to showcase its cross-border work. The company’s status...

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| Ingenico

Global financial technology leader Ingenico has innovation at the very heart of its business proposition, and its diverse and well-resourced legal function has a correspondingly forward-thinking outlook. It has recently...

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| Ipsos

Present in 90 markets worldwide, Ipsos is one of the most trusted names in the opinion, market and research sector worldwide. The company is known for its successful acquisitions strategy...

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Ivanhoé Cambridge Europe

| Ivanhoé Cambridge Europe

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate subsidiary of La Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, has a six-person legal team located in Luxembourg and Paris, where legal head for Europe...

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| Keolis

Keolis has enjoyed an extremely successful past 24 months, with a number of exciting international projects for its highly-regarded legal team to support. Highly-regarded in-house lawyer Patrizia Marraghini provided some...

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| Klesia

Non-profit and jointly-managed, Klesia provides social protection through insurance services for those on complementary pensions. Setting the institution’s legal standards for the plans it provides members is among the key...

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Lagardère Group

| Lagardère Group

Lagardère Group’s vast media operations are supported by an expert in-house legal function that is fully equipped to deal with the multi-faceted business lines the company operates in. July 2019...

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| Legrand

Corporate social responsibility has taken a front seat in recent months at electrical hardware leader Legrand. It recently published its gender equality index and a corporate social responsibility roadmap, which...

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| Linkcity

Located in France and the UK, Linkcity’s successful real estate development portfolio is backed up by an extremely competent legal department which is central to its success. The team received...

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LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

| LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

“One of the leading names in high-end luxury goods, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton legal team not only has to ensure the reputation of its brands worldwide, as well...

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MF Brands Group International

| MF Brands Group International

General counsel Johan Harrysson leads the 35-strong MF Brands Group International (part of the Maus Frères group) legal team, which is responsible for a number of highly respected and notable...

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| Michelin

A truly heavyweight in-house legal team, Michelin has a legal community of 187 members led by group general counsel Benoit Balmary, with the lion’s share of the legal function (82...

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Michelin – Digital and Privacy

| Michelin – Digital and Privacy

The product of a February 2018 merger of the digital and privacy teams, the new Michelin digital and privacy legal team is led by Sandrine Rambaud and is a seven-person...

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Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF)

| Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF)

Mouvement des Entreprises de France’s (MEDEF) legal team is led by Joëlle Simon, the company’s deputy director general, legal, ethics and corporate governance lead. Responsible for legal support for the...

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Murex EMEA

| Murex EMEA

Murex has been developing market-leading technology solutions for trading and risk and operations teams for over 30 years, and made €540m revenues in 2018. Its EMEA legal team is led...

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| Nexans

Nexans is a highly successful cables and subsea infrastructure company headquartered in Paris, with a global network of offices and a global remit. Listed on the CAC Mid60, the company...

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| Nexity

Nexity is a market leading French property developer and real estate company with a range of commercial and residential properties in its portfolio and a highly developed business in real...

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| Orange

Coordination between the legal team and executive management has always been particularly strong at Orange, and is evidenced by former legal director Nicolas Guérin being made secretary general and secretary...

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Orange Business Services

| Orange Business Services

One of the best-regarded legal functions in France, Orange Business Services received multiple nominations from contemporary in-house legal staff from other teams spoken to in this year’s GC Powerlist, which...

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Pernod Ricard

| Pernod Ricard

French alcoholic beverages provider Pernod Ricard has a large and highly qualified legal team with a triple-digit headcount and an extremely wide talent base. The team has been supporting major...

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Pierre Fabre

| Pierre Fabre

With three legal departments in France – one corporate team and one each for the company’s two main business groups of Pierre Fabre Medicament Santé and Pierre Fabre dermo-cosmetics –...

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Publicis Groupe

| Publicis Groupe

The oldest and one of the largest and most well-known advertising and public relations companies in the world, Publicis Groupe posted approximately €10bn in revenue in 2018 which is larger...

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| Pylones

Sylvestre Dhombres oversees five other individuals in the Pylones legal department, which also takes on HR matters for the company and its 12 European subsidiaries and Asian production plant. ‘Legal...

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| RATP Dev

A major transportation system operator formed from parent company RATP in 2002, RATP Dev’s innovative approach to its work has seen it grow to an extremely impressive size, and it...

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| Safran

Safran is a major component of the booming French aerospace industry, as well the company responsible for producing the rocket engines for the Ariane series of European spacecraft via its...

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| Sanofi

Organised around the three pillars of legal, IP and ethics and business integrity, and overseen by the well-known and highly regarded Karen Linehan, the Sanofi legal department is among the...

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| Scaprim

A subsidiary of TwentyTwo Real Estate, Scaprim is a major real estate player in its own right, and its compact but extremely capable legal team has proved an indispensable component...

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| Schlumberger

Schlumberger’s expert legal team was nominated by sources in both the in-house and private practice legal worlds, evincing widespread knowledge of its high standards. Senior legal team members are part...

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Schneider Electric

| Schneider Electric

The Schneider Electric legal team is located in a number of locations across multiple countries, and the team has managed to master coordination between its approximately 300 members. The team...

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As the fourth-largest global reinsurer in the world, SCOR’s Paris-based group legal department, led by group general counsel Maï Novello, is structured to provide day-to-day support and innovative legal solutions...

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Société Générale

| Société Générale

Société Générale’s in-house legal team has been a major component of its success for many years, and enjoys excellent coordination with senior management through group general counsel Dominique Bourrinet. The...

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| Sonepar

A team of 10 professionals working at the company’s Paris headquarters, with another 30 located across the wider Group, Sonepar’s legal team contributes a truly global legal resource and has...

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Sony Music

| Sony Music

Sony Music Entertainment’s small but highly effective France-based in-house legal team received plaudits from nominating sources for its excellent recent performance. In particular, the team’s work in litigation in defence...

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Sopra Steria

| Sopra Steria

Sopra Steria is a leading European multinational digital transformations company specialised in providing consulting, systems integration, software development, infrastructure management and technical business management services to clients across 25 countries...

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Suez Environnement

| Suez Environnement

Water and waste utilities giant Suez Environnement’s multi-billion dollar revenue business is a highly coordinated and well-run operation, with its legal team being a key buttress of this structure. An...

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Teva Santé

| Teva Santé

Operating in France since 1996, Teva Santé is the French subsidiary of the Nasdaq and Tel Aviv-listed Teva Pharmaceutical Group, and its legal team is extremely well regarded in a...

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| Thales

Thales’ excellence in the highly competitive and technologically-dependant defence sector is underpinned by excellent internal processes which mirror the precision in the company’s products; its legal team is no different....

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The Adecco Group

| The Adecco Group

With responsibility for all Adecco Group companies in France and responsible for all areas of law except tax, which is monitored by the finance department, the Adecco Group’s legal team...

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Total Group

| Total Group

One of the most well-resourced and effective legal departments worldwide, Total’s legal team has a complement of 520 individuals, 480 of whom are lawyers; half are based in Paris while...

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| Uber

Uber’s France-based in-house legal team has been dealing with two major regulatory overhauls of the mobility sector which cut the available pool of drivers by almost half in a less...

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Ubisoft Entertainment

| Ubisoft Entertainment

Cécile Russeil is chief legal officer and head of the 50-person legal team of videogames powerhouse Ubisoft, which is usually organised by area of expertise but also on a regional...

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| Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

One of the most notable business acquisitions of 2018 was that of Westfield by Unibail Rodamco to create Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the largest commercial real estate company in Europe by market value...

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| Valeo

A truly global company, Valeo’s 113,600 employees are located across 33 countries and 186 production units, fulfilling its vast, multibillion-Euro revenue automotive supply operations that are the culmination of over...

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| Vallourec

Now structured in a traditional matrix organisation along the lines of expertise, core business activities and regions, the Vallourec legal team is led by group general counsel and company secretary...

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| Vestas

The wind power market is one that is set to assume even greater importance globally given the widespread desire to move towards renewable energy, which should translate to an extremely...

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An extremely successful past 24 months for the VINCI legal team was epitomised by its acquisition of a controlling 50.01% stake in Gatwick Airport for £2.9bn, which was formally completed...

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| Vivendi

Vivendi’s legal department is led by group general counsel Frédéric Crépin, an individual of immense experience who has been with the company for almost 20 years, having first joined in...

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| Vivescia

Vivescia is a French headquartered international agricultural group, co-owned by 11,000 farmers in Northern France, and specialises in collective farming and food processing. It is supported by a high quality...

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| Vmware

Founded in 1998, VMware is one of the most disruptive companies of the Silicon Valley. A pioneer of hybrid cloud, VMware also helps its customers build, manage and operate their...

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As well as being one of the world’s most
historic and developed legal markets, France continues to be the home of some of the best

in-house counsel worldwide. The combined talents of corporate counsel in France – along with their clever organisational structuring, a proactive attitude towards innovation and collaborative spirit – ensure there is, yet again, a dazzling array of high quality in-house legal teams that make up The Legal 500’s GC Powerlist: France Teams 2019.

The stand-out feature of this year’s research is the sheer diversity of operations reported by the representatives of the in-house teams we spoke to as part of this project. While there are of course overlaps in terms of overarching common challenges – particularly in regards (as usual) to new regulations – previous years have seen greater consistency in interviews as lawyers from relatively diverse market segments look to tackle the same challenges. This points to a slowing down in the pace of regulatory evolution and, perhaps, a stabilisation in terms of the external challenges that French businesses face. Whether this remains the case or diverges in the near future, the strength and ability of France-based in-house legal teams means they will be an increasingly important resource drawn upon by their organisations in years to come.

In this year’s GC Powerlist: France Teams we are pleased to highlight some of the country’s leading in-house legal departments. To compile this list, we canvassed opinions from both law firm partners and in-house counsel. We identified the most impressive legal departments operating in the country who have utilised their legal knowledge strategically alongside business insight to make a positive impact towards their organisation’s success. Thank you very much to everyone who spoke to me during the course of this project for being so generous with your time and vivid with your insights. We have a number of exciting plans for next year’s edition as well, so watch this space!

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland logo

Nous sommes très heureux d’être partenaires de Legal 500 à l’occasion de la révélation de la GC Powerlist en France. En effet, notre cabinet s’efforce chaque jour d’accompagner au mieux, en France et dans le monde entier, les directeurs juridiques face aux défis qu’ils doivent relever. Pour nos clients, notre forte implantation à Paris, notre réseau international et notre approche innovante du droit sont des atouts majeurs pour saisir pleinement les opportunités qu’offrent les nouvelles technologies et la globalisation des marchés.

Sur le plan international, le rapprochement en février 2017 entre Eversheds et l’américain Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan s’est imposé comme une évidence. La complémentarité des deux cabinets, tant du point de vue de l’implantation géographique que des spécialités et compétences, était indéniable et a considérablement étendu notre champ d’action. Depuis, nous n’avons cessé de nous développer, ouvrant de nouveaux bureaux à Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, Moscou, Saint-Pétersbourg et plus récemment à Chicago et San Diego. Nous avons également renforcé notre présence en Europe de l’est en République Tchèque et en Slovaquie. Cette expansion nous permet aujourd’hui de figurer en 10ème position du classement 2019 des 20 plus grands cabinets internationaux établi par Law360.

Outre l’étendue de notre couverture géographique, nous veillons également à l’excellence de l’offre que nous proposons. Nous sommes particulièrement conscients de l’importance que recèlent l’innovation technologique et la digitalisation pour répondre aux enjeux juridiques modernes. A l’heure où les directions juridiques voient leur périmètre d’action s’élargir avec un volet opérationnel de plus en plus important nécessitant toujours davantage d’agilité, nous investissons largement dans l’élaboration d’outils dédiés à l’optimisation de la gestion des projets et à l’automatisation des tâches à faible valeur ajoutée. L’accès aux ressources est plus rapide, l’échange d’informations plus fluide et plus complet et le gain de temps garantit une plus grande disponibilité des équipes pour se concentrer sur les aspects les plus complexes.

Nous souhaitons par notre soutien saluer les performances remarquables des membres de la GC Powerlist et affirmer notre fierté d’être à leurs côtés dans le rôle central qu’ils.elles jouent dans le succès de leurs entreprises aujourd’hui et pour les années à venir.


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Fondee en 2003, notre equipe compte desormais plus de 100 professionnels du recrutement juridique travaillant partout dans le monde. La majorite de nos consultants sont des avocats qualifies ayant travaille dans des cabinets d’avocats ce qui leur a permis d’acquerir une COMPREHENSION UNIQUE de l’environnement dans lequelles avocats exercent leurs activites.


De puis ses debuts, Ia promesse SSQ a ete d’ etablir un cabinet de conseil en recrutement juridique, fonde sur Ia TRANSPARENCE et Ia OUALITE. Cela nous a valu Ia reputation de recruteur de choix, nous demarquant ainsi de nombreux cabinets de conseil. Notre equipe dediee aux cabinets d’avocats est leader du recrutement juridique au niveau international. Avec un reseau integre et incomparable sur le marche, l’equipe est responsable des mouvements d’associes et d’equipes parmi les plus en vue au Royaume-Uni, en Europe continentale, au Moyen-Orient et en Asie.

Nous sommes reputes pour le service innovant et sur mesure que nous fournissons a nos clients que ce soit au niveau collaborateur, counsel ou associe.

Legal Business Corporate and M&A Summit 2023

On the 20th March, Legal Business and The Legal 500 hosted the 2023 edition of the Corporate and M&A Summit at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, bringing together delegates from across the legal profession to discuss the key issues affecting this area of law in uncertain times.

The event was centered around dynamic panels providing hard-hitting insight into the legal issues affecting corporate and M&A legal teams and their clients in 2023. It was sponsored by Aon, Charles Russell Speechlys, Eversheds Sutherland, Jones Day, Luminance Technologies and Virtual Vaults.

Kicking off the first panel, Eric Knai, M&A partner at Eversheds moderated a discussion on the next drivers of strategic M&A. Knai was joined by Anthony Kenny, assistant GC corporate at GSK, Lee Holland, M&A chief counsel at Howden and Ceri-Ann Mcgraa, partner at Eversheds. During the panel Knai emphasized the importance of situating what is happening in the market within the wider geopolitical context; taking into account the war in Ukraine, global inflation, interest rate increases, exchange rate volatility and political and financial policy changes. However, the panel were cautiously optimistic, with Knai commenting that ‘even though 2022 dropped by about 25% in deal volume, it was still the second best year on record. We’ve had a general flattening of the market, a tail off of upper market deals definitely but the mid-market has held up’. Mcgraa explained that whilst ‘trends are very sector specific’, it is certainly not all doom and gloom, adding that from a ‘private capital perspective, we still have record amounts of dry powder out there’.

This was followed by a talk from Luminance’s head of staff, Jaeger Glucina, on supercharging legal teams with AI. Glucina gave an overview of the opportunities for law firms who harness AI, commenting that ‘across the board, AI is driving down costs across every business and it’s taking less time to perform those very routine manual repetitive tasks’. Given the hype surrounding AI following the release of ChatGPT, Glucina distilled AI’s function by explaining that it mimics the problem solving and decision-making capabilities of human beings. She also discussed the advantages of real machine learning versus rules-based systems which have previously been on the market. Real machine learning can be taught and updated on the go. Whereas, rules based systems need users to input different rules for different scenarios to get to a certain solution. Rules based systems need to be constantly updated, maintained, and audited.

After a networking coffee break, the next session was a panel discussion about value creation in a volatile deal environment moderated by Aon. Derek Shakespeare, EMEA chair of M&A at Deutsche Bank, Andrew Ballheimer, former global managing partner at Allen & Overy, Anka Taylor, EMEA head of M&A insurance at Aon, Dwayne Lysaght co-head of EMEA M&A at J.P. Morgan and Piers Johansen managing director at Aon considered strategies for addressing a variety of deal related uncertainties. As Johansen noted M&A took a hit during 2022 ‘sparked by geopolitical uncertainty and stubbornly high inflation’ which ‘impacted dealmaker confidence and capital markets’. The panelists discussed the importance of investors regaining confidence but pointed to the markets showing notable resilience in the face of challenges such as the Ukraine war and energy crises. The panel concluded with the panelists broadly agreeing that looking forward, 2023 would be a tricky year but it would present opportunities for the brave.

Following this, in the final session before the lunch break, Legal Business’s Nathalie Tidman held a fireside chat with Virtual Vaults’ CEO Jeroen Kruithof. Tidman and Kruithof discussed managing complex due diligence processes in M&A transactions. Topics covered included utilizing legal technology, the digitization of legal data and how to avoid common mistakes to keep in control of your M&A due diligence process.

Post lunch, Tidman hosted another fireside chat with Charles Russell Speechly’s David Coates in which they discussed the relationship between private practice lawyers and general counsel. Coates, commenting on the growing pressures placed on general counsel, who are increasingly expected to do more with less, noted that ‘if the role of head of legal has changed, then the way in which a private practice lawyer interacts and works with them naturally must have changed too’. In order to develop a positive relationship with general counsel, Coates suggested avoiding underinvestment in them as a client, maintaining reliable, upfront and transparent communication, particularly in relation to costs, and ensuring that you provide an executive summary and definitive conclusions where appropriate. He also suggested considering whether your firm’s culture compliments the in-house team’s culture and having difficult conversations as soon as possible.

This was followed by a further fireside chat on walking the ESG walk with Upfield’s corporate development VP Caroline Cormier and Nick Lupica, EMEA head of transaction advisory services at Aon. Cormier and Lupica discussed the interplay between ESG initiatives and value creation through sustainability, with an illuminating discussion on how ESG can align with an organisation’s corporate growth strategy. They also discussed the difference between orange flags and red flags during the due diligence process and what should be a deal breaker when working with suppliers. As Cormier observed, Upfield demonstrate that ESG is integral to their business by having ‘a series of commitments, which we’re showing are the priorities and the commitments for the company’.

The final session of the day saw Tidman moderate a discussion on navigating evolving risks in cross-border M&A. Tidman was joined by Jones Day partners Vica Irani and Julian Runnicles, alongside Mary Bartle, senior M&A counsel at Informa, and Allesandro Galtieri, deputy GC at Colt. Potential risks discussed by the panel included a more interventionist approach from antitrust regulators, sanction compliance following the Ukraine war and increased ESG due diligence.

Legal Business and The Legal 500 would like to thank all attendees, sponsors and panelists who contributed to a great day of networking and insight.