The in-house legal team of mostly – unsurprisingly – insurance lawyers at AIG, spread across more than 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), sees itself as a genuine strategic partner of the broader business. ‘[Legal is] the moral compass of the business. You can’t just be the law department; it’s about finding solutions and helping the business around problems,’ says EMEA general counsel (GC) and chief operating officer (COO) Chris Newby. ‘Legal is recognised as a significant function within AIG Europe.’ It is this role Newby cites as a key strength of the in-house team and one he backs up with his appointment as an AIG Europe director, which has seen him advise the board for the last six years. But he also believes his team of around 140, spread across corporate secretariat, legal and regulatory compliance, has significant strength and depth, with few people leaving the team over the last five years. This has been achieved, he says, by expanding the roles of people it might otherwise be difficult to promote. ‘We build links with law firms at all levels through our team to help their career development, so that as lawyers go through firms, from mid-level associate to senior associate to partner, our lawyers move up at the same rate.’ This in-house experience and internal knowledge is matched by the team’s spread across AIG’s 25 European businesses, with lawyers in most of its major countries. This means the team can give the business a ‘pan- European’ view without having to rely heavily on external counsel. As Newby says: ‘There isn’t really any area that we can’t cover internally in some shape or form.’ Newby is also the chair of the AIG EMEA diversity and inclusion council, and points out that his team has a lot of female lawyers, as well as ingrained flexible working and maternity leave initiatives. ‘We have a pretty open policy on that side of things, which means our female talent is not leaving the business.’ AIG legal counsel Samantha Stocker is one Newby points to as a ‘home-grown’ future leader who has particularly stood out of late. The in-house team has long been seen as a leader in innovation and technology, an area it still focuses on, particularly through an automated service centre in Manila and through an in-house workflow tool the business built itself. Newby also took on the in-house COO role last year, a position he sees as overlapping with his senior leadership role and core job as GC.