United Kingdom 2015: The Team Elite – GC Powerlist
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United Kingdom 2015: The Team Elite

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Our third annual GC Power List report looks more like a state-of-the profession piece than its two predecessors. While the earlier reports focused on standout individuals, in 2015 we highlight 50 exceptional in-house teams, which inevitably addresses how clients operate.

Even a cursory glance at how these teams have evolved underlines the huge shift that has been taking place in the UK legal profession over the last 15 years: the best in-house legal teams are seizing influence, technical skills and budget, largely from their service providers.

This is particularly notable when it comes to managing their people. High-flying GCs are obsessive about talent and retention. This is largely why they strive to retain interesting work in-house: cost-saving is merely a justification, the primary reason is to motivate and develop their talent with engaging work.

Likewise, expanding in-house teams are using their scale to build formidable industry know-how. A common theme from our research is that law firms are failing to keep up with advances in sector insight at clients.

Even discounting some of the overblown claims about the savviness of GCs as buyers it is clear that bluechips in the UK have become materially more sophisticated purchasers of legal services since the banking crisis.

Successful in-house teams also usually display two related organisational characteristics: firstly an ability to step outside the day-to-day grind to deploy some measure of medium-term thinking and, secondly, develop a co-ordinated approach to building strong links with the business. Failing on these counts is a pretty reliable marker of the teams that struggle.

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Those are the common experiences across in-house but huge differences remain between industries (the revenue-per-lawyer range in-house remains startlingly wide even between many comparable businesses). Beyond that it is increasingly obvious that there are two very different dynamics for the in-house profession. GCs working in heavily regulated and contentious sectors have built up vast legal teams interconnected with compliance functions in recent years. Those in less regulated sectors like retail and real estate have maintained surprisingly lean operations. In future, strategic thinking and operational support for in-house may have to more clearly recognise these very different models.

These observations lead to several conclusions. Firstly, these shifts represent an existential challenge to law firms as in-house counsel press their service providers into narrower roles. It’s not clear that law firms have grappled with the troubling implications of this for their business models. And, if we are currently witnessing the glory days for corporate legal teams, as ITV’s Andrew Garard convincingly asserts, then the UK profession is arguably overtaking its US equivalents in terms of sophistication. If true, those are two highly significant trends for the global legal market that will be playing out for years to come.

alex.novarese@legalease.co.uk

RPC

RPC logo

In the three years we at RPC have been involved with Legal Business’ GC Power List, the shifting sands of the economy have created both threat and opportunity across all sectors, in all jurisdictions; the rise and rise of the regulator has continued unabated; and the issue of enterprise-level risk has established itself firmly at the top of the corporate agenda.

Frightening? Actually, I take that back, it’s exhilarating. We live in interesting times. Interesting times bring interesting challenges. And interesting challenges give the very best people the opportunity to put down a marker and establish themselves as true leaders within their organisations.

And, as this stellar list of the 50 best in-house legal teams in the country shows, the most progressive lawyers are making up a growing number of those leaders. Not just as leaders of their teams but, increasingly, as genuine leaders of their organisations, influencing strategic direction and with a significant voice at the boardroom table.

Jonathan Watmough
Managing Partner

M&A Legal Forum Italy 2024

On Thursday, May 16th, 2024, The Legal 500 travelled to Milan to inaugurate the first-ever M&A Legal Forum Italy 2024, in collaboration with Pavia e Ansaldo.

Distinguished by its informal tone and a highly interactive audience, the event encouraged participants to contribute their thoughts, opinions, and questions to the panel discussions, enhancing the overall experience.

The agenda featured two key sessions addressing the primary challenges faced by Italy-based in-house counsel in the areas of M&A and compliance.
Sara Maggi, The Legal 500’s editorial lead for the Forum, kicked off the event with a welcoming address that set the tone for the day.

The first session, focused on maximising synergies between in-house and external counsel in M&A, was moderated by Stefano Bianchi, managing partner, and Paola Carlotti, partner at Pavia e Ansaldo. They were joined by Silvia Signoretti, group corporate law counsel and secretary of the board at Recordati, and Raffaella Colda, general counsel at Haier Europe, who shared strategies for enhancing collaboration between in-house and external legal teams in M&A transactions.

The second session, centred on compliance challenges, was moderated again by Stefano Bianchi, this time joined by Mario Di Giulio, partner at Pavia e Ansaldo. The discussion featured insights from Jessica Meloni, head of legal Italy and head of legal Europe Ocean at CEVA Logistics, and Ciro Spinelli, head of legal department at DHL Global Forwarding Italy. Together, they addressed compliance issues with practical insights from their extensive experience in the field.

After a series of brilliant and insightful sessions, attendees moved to a reception featuring drinks and canapés. The Legal 500 was delighted to collaborate with Pavia e Ansaldo to bring this successful event to life and looks forward to returning to Italy soon.