For the 2016 edition of GC Powerlist we return to the original format of the report – launched in 2013 – focusing on senior general counsel (GCs). Over that time, the report has expanded hugely to become one of the most important strands of Legalease’s portfolio. Expanding the report also reflects the reality that in understanding GCs, you need to look at the specifics. While law firms operate on a few variants of the same model, in-house teams are defined much more by the industry and the individual company in which they work.
But there are broad trends as well. The upward march of the in-house profession that this report was originally launched to chronicle has, if anything, accelerated. While law firms are struggling for growth in many sectors, in-house teams continue to expand in the UK and take on greater swathes of work. It’s becoming increasingly mainstream to encounter teams with multimillion-pound budgets that put only a tiny minority of their work to law firms. Where they are instructing outside counsel, a good proportion of GCs now barely bother to conceal their tactic of pushing law firms down the value chain… and their teams correspondingly upwards.
RPC’s managing partner on how the modern GC made law a part of business (and vice versa).
It was late 2012 when RPC first became involved with Legal Business’ GC Powerlist. Back then, over four years after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the world economy was still looking parlous.
Another four years on and, although we’re now certainly on a firmer footing economically, there are still plenty of reasons to be fearful, or at least cautious, over what the future might hold for businesses: the slowdown in China; the collapse in the price of oil; stock market woes, here and in Asia; and uncertainty surrounding Britain’s possible exit from Europe, to name just a few.
“It was a sensational event”, is how one attendee described the first GC Summit to be held by The Legal 500 in Romania on March 23 at The Grand Hotel, Bucharest.
GC Summit Romania marked a new milestone in the production of summits for in-house counsel at an international level. The agenda was not focused on the daily legal issues that in-house counsel experience, but on the aspirations of corporate lawyers to evolve from lawyers to become board members or even C-level executives within their companies.
Gone are the stereotypes of in-house counsel focused only on the legal aspects of their work. Today, corporate lawyers have a broad base of experience in navigating both legal and commercial situations, which positions them with strengths over other, more traditional, executives.
The first session of the day discussed the future of legal services and how innovation enables corporate lawyers and law firms to navigate the so-called digital economy successfully. It was moderated by Cornel Popa, partner at Tuca Zbârcea & Asociatii, who presented the experiences and opinions of the panellists on the challenges they face when it comes to the adoption of AI, cybersecurity, and the modernisation of compliance systems for more sustainable corporate development.
This was followed by a second discussion panel, which covered the criteria that in-house counsel use to contract the services of external law firms. This panel discussion, moderated by Roxana Ionescu, co-head of data protection and head of environment practices at NNDKP, covered balancing the cost of resolving legal matters alongside other factors, such as the time it takes to resolve the issues, as well as how to take advantage of specific scenarios during legal procedures.
One of the topics that most caught the attention of the attendees was the fireside chat looking at the transition from GC to Board Member. The topic was moderated by Simon Dayes, partner at Dentons and gave the audience a reasonably accurate idea of the qualities that a GC should aspire to, the challenges in-house counsel face when aiming to transition to Board Member and opening up possibilities in a market famous for fierce competition between corporate lawyers and C-level executives.
The third discussion panel, moderated by Mihai Mares, founding partner at Mares & Mares, which, together with the panellists Alina Arsene, general counsel at Interbrands Orbico, Oleg Roibu, general counsel at eMAG Group and Bianca Vlad, general counsel at CORA gave a spirited discussion on how to act in the face of an administrative crisis. It also addressed successful examples of risk management, as well as how short, medium, and long-term strategies can make the difference between success and failure.
The fourth-panel discussion, moderated by Sebastian Guțiu, managing partner at Schoenherr, focused on the changing role of the GC and how to strike the right balance between legal counsel and leadership roles. Attendees learned about why leadership, combined with proper business strategies and knowledge of commercial law, can make the difference between an everyday regular administrative/corporate decision and a great business and corporate growth strategy to achieve recognition as an irreplaceable force within the productive apparatus of the company that in-house counsel represent today.
The discussion closed with an intense debate on ESG, moderated by Horia Draghici, partner at CMS. The panel discussed, in part, how the inclusion of ESG on the corporate agenda of companies was necessary in order to be equipped to act swiftly to mitigate environmental difficulties, both locally and internationally.
The event ended with a networking session, where attendees met new colleagues to further strengthen the professional bond between acquaintances.
On behalf of The Legal 500 team, we want to thank our sponsors and the entire in-house community of Romania that joined us. We will return in 2024 with a new edition of GC Summit Romania and more topics of interest for our in-house community!