General counsel of the Investment Bank and Capital Release Unit | Deutsche Bank
Alex Scott-Gall successfully built a new capital release unit with no headcount increase and ensured a sensitive updating of legal risk was completed for the investment bank in a turbulent...
#GCPowerlist United Kingdom 2021
General counsel EMEA | Lightsource BP
I have been hugely impressed with Alexandra DeSouza of Lightsource BP. DeSouza has been grappling with the perennial issue of how to make the best use of internal resources across...
#GCPowerlist United Kingdom 2021
Head of legal | WM Morrison Supermarkets
Alison Charnock was effective with feeding the nation in the most difficult of times has been a central plank of the country’s success over the last 12-15 months. Charnock and...
#GCPowerlist United Kingdom 2021
For over 30 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. In this series, The Legal 500, in collaboration with Legal Business, GC Magazine and The In-house Lawyer, is turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward.
The GC Powerlist is a series of publications highlighting the most influential in-house lawyers and legal teams in business today. I would like to express my personal thanks to our headline sponsor Pinsent Masons and associate sponsor Alvarez & Marsal for supporting this publication. A special mention must also go to the in-house lawyers that took time to speak to us throughout the process, as well as to the research team that worked on this GC Powerlist publication.
The Legal 500 Series
For this year’s GC Powerlist edition, we focused our research efforts around the theme of ‘resilience and recovery’. We chose this to reflect the transitional nature of the response to the Covid-19 crisis that has endured since our 2020 edition; while there is still certainly a hangover from the lockdown and its attendant business disruptions, the UK’s general counsel have been instrumental in stabilising the situation and returning to a growth phase. Many of the more fortunate companies, as you will see in the following pages, have even been able to capitalise on the situation.
The survey produced some interesting results. One of the most encouraging is that there is evidence that general counsel in the UK have increased their face-to-face time with the top brass of their organisations. Over half of respondents agreed that they have been more involved in c-suite matters in the period following the pandemic, with 39% strongly agreeing with this assessment. Only 7% disagreed, with none strongly disagreeing.
Looking back at the pandemic, the UK’s general counsel appear to have been putting their own people first and foremost. When discussing the greatest challenge of the past twelve months, the most common answer was safeguarding employee health and wellbeing. This points to a collaborative and compassionate corporate culture which prevails at many of the companies which feature in the 2021 UK GC Powerlist, which is something to be celebrated. Further insight into the difficulties faced by our in-house counsel can be gleaned from the fact that increased workload was the second-most common response. ‘We were required to manage the additional Covid-related workload on top of business as usual, most of which did not slow down’, reported one individual.
What about the verdict on home working going forward? Apparently, a resounding ‘yes’! All of the GCs who responded to our survey said at least some team members would be continuing with some form of flexi-working going forward. A little over half even said they would be expecting all of their team members to be partially or fully home-working from now on.
I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone – successful or unsuccessful in making the final shortlist – who spoke to us for this new-look edition of the UK GC Powerlist, and to Elisha Juttla, Mark McAteer and everyone else in our research team who worked on producing this year’s edition. Stay tuned for more GC Powerlists all over the world soon as our publishing schedule returns to some sort of normality in the coming months.
Head of Research:
GC Powerlist series
Resilience and Recovery
The global pandemic has impacted our lives in so many ways. It’s sharpened our awareness of mental health and wellbeing, reminded us of the importance of connecting with people and re-engaged us with our communities. Businesses too have learned how to operate under the most challenging of circumstances, forced into drastically flexing and adapting to an ever-changing environment simply to continue operating.
Yet while so much has changed, the climate emergency has not. We should, indeed must, move from inertia to momentum in response to the existential threat posed to our planet by climate change and biodiversity loss. The pandemic will accelerate change. Agility, vigilance, and resilience will be critical to sustain our relevance. Climate change is inevitable, so if we don’t like change we will like irrelevance even less! It will be purposeful organisations and actions which will sustain us environmentally and financially.
Now more than ever, organisations are under pressure to retain the trust of customers and employees. Expectations about standards of ethics, diversity and sustainability are high. And so, we see the dial starting to shift as success in the eyes of our stakeholders becomes more heavily influenced by how we do business. An organisation that measures itself against its impact on the environment, the communities it operates within, and how it supports its people and clients is rich not just in reputation, but in the talent and cognitive diversity it attracts. It becomes a business that people are proud to work for and that clients are proud to work with.
Perhaps it is this focus on purpose that has enabled businesses’ resilience throughout this challenging period, and certainly it will play a part in their recovery. But as we know, a business is only as good as its employees, and this year’s Powerlisters have shown resilience and an unwavering determination to remain successful in times of adversity. It recognises those who are playing an active role in influencing their organisations and staying ahead despite the pressures posed by the pandemic. They are engaging with the C-suite, taking on Board positions, and are deeply involved in the strategic direction of their companies.
They are human. They recognise when health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, is being stretched and are engaging with initiatives to support it. Most common among them all? They are visionary. Ready to innovate, collaborate and motivate to drive change.
It is collaboration and innovation with clients that helped to inspire the transformation occurring within Pinsent Masons as we become a purpose-led professional services business with law at the core. The time when legal services providers were simply trading vehicles for legal acumen is gone. Law remains at the heart of our business, but our diverse team comprises of a wider range of skillsets and expertise that mean we apply the right people, process and technology to every project.
This is what we do, but most importantly, as a purpose-led organisation we know why we are doing it.
Pinsent Masons is a firm that stands for something. We believe we have an obligation to make business work better for our people, clients and the communities that we operate within, and to bring that to life we build strong relationships based on trust, demonstrable ability and with shared ambitions to accomplish our goals.
Congratulations to everyone on this year’s Powerlist, who are each powerful reminders that despite the difficult environment we’re operating in, lawyers have an important role to play in effecting change.
About Alvarez & Marsal
Companies, investors and government entities around the world turn to Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) for leadership, action and results. Privately held since its founding in 1983, A&M is a leading global professional services firm that provides advisory, business performance improvement and turnaround management services. When conventional approaches are not enough to create transformation and drive change, clients seek our deep expertise and ability to deliver practical solutions to their unique problems.
With over 5,400 people across four continents, we deliver tangible results for corporates, boards, private equity firms, law firms and government agencies facing complex challenges. Our senior leaders, and their teams, leverage A&M’s restructuring heritage to help companies act decisively, catapult growth and accelerate results. We are experienced operators, world-class consultants, former regulators and industry authorities with a shared commitment to telling clients what’s really needed for turning change into a strategic business asset, managing risk and unlocking value at every stage of growth.