Significant matters – Autumn 2022

Citi GC Sharon Blackman banks top in-house accolade at Legal Business Awards 2022

The Legal Business Awards, held at the Grosvenor House hotel in London on 27 September, provided the perfect backdrop to honour the leading lights of the in-house legal community for their accomplishments of the last year. Hosted by British television presenter and journalist Louise Minchin, the event brought together the best in class in-house and private practice legal teams, with Sharon Blackman of Citi securing the top in-house award of GC of the Year.

Blackman, an English law-qualified barrister and New York attorney, heads the foreign exchange and local markets legal team for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In 2021, the in-house star received an OBE for services to the financial sector for her role as chair on the Bank of England London Foreign Exchange Joint Standing Committee.

Highly commended in this category was Simon Dowson-Collins who leads the legal and contracts team at HarperCollins UK. Among Dowson-Collins’ recent achievements was playing a crucial role in supporting and defending the company following a barrage of defamation and data protection claims by Russian oligarchs last year.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (pictured) took the top team prize to be crowned In-House Team of the Year for defying pandemic setbacks to launch new products and innovative marketing strategies. HarperCollins UK’s legal team again came highly commended in this category for its role in helping the publisher become carbon neutral for its direct operational emissions in 2022.

Meanwhile Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance won Most Transformative In-House Team of the Year for its pivotal role in the development of the Covax facility – the biggest multilateral effort since the Paris Climate Agreement. Ndidi Ezenwa of Juven, the spin-off of Goldman Sachs’ Africa investing business, picked up the award for Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year.

Burges Salmon, Eversheds Sutherland and DWF reign supreme in Crown Commercial Service public sector legal panel tender

Crown Commercial Service has appointed nearly 60 firms to its public sector legal services panel with Burges Salmon, Eversheds Sutherland and DWF all securing a place across all regions and legal services.

The new panel will run for four years from September 2022 and is designed to be SME friendly with access to regional suppliers. It has split its ‘full-service’ and ‘general service’ panels into three lots, covering England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Thirty-two firms secured places on its full-service provision lots while 53 firms made up its general service provision. Ten firms were selected to provide specialist legal advice in the rail transport sector.

Burges Salmon partner John Houlden commented: ‘We are proud to have secured this prestigious appointment, which builds on our recent instructions from the CCS and further demonstrates our deep-rooted credentials in the public sector.’

Jonathan Branton, head of government and public sector at DWF, said: ‘Having a place on both the local and central government panels enables us to help solve complex legal issues right across the public sector and it is another indication of our leading reputation in the sector.

Clarke Willmott shut out of Network Homes legal panel as seven firms are reappointed

Network Homes has announced a scaled down legal panel which saw Clarke Willmott dropped after four years on the charitable housing association’s legal services framework.

Following its second ever tender process, Network Homes retained seven of eight firms from its inaugural appointment with Bevan Brittan, Capsticks, Devonshires, Penningtons Manches, TLT, Trowers & Hamlins and Winckworth Sherwood making the cut. The panel took effect on 1 September 2022 and will run for four years until 2026.

Linda Convery, partner and head of social housing at TLT, commented: ‘Since being appointed to its first legal panel in 2014, we have supported Network Homes on a number of exciting projects in the affordable housing sector. It is no secret that the UK is facing crises both in terms of housing affordability and quality, so it’s very rewarding to have worked with a client that delivers on both fronts.’

Amy Shaw, real estate partner at Trowers, added: ‘The reappointment further demonstrates our longstanding relationship and the level of our expertise within the sector. We look forward to continuing our work with Network Homes and helping them to achieve their strategic objectives.

Award-winning easyJet GC flown in as Vodafone’s longstanding legal chief retires

In-house veteran Rosemary Martin is set to retire after more than a decade as Vodafone’s group general counsel. She will be replaced by Legal Business’ 2021 GC of the Year, easyJet GC Maaike de Bie (pictured).

During her tenure at the helm, in-house luminary Martin oversaw the company’s 2012 buyout of Cable & Wireless Worldwide for £1bn and its 2014 antitrust damages action against three semiconductor companies active in the smart card industry. She has also been praised for her commitment to driving diversity and ESG initiatives – both took center stage in Vodafone’s most recent legal tender, which saw eight firms appointed in 2021.

Speaking to Legal Business in September, Martin said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Vodafone. The company’s aim is to keep everyone connected and playing a role in that has felt worthwhile. I have been so fortunate throughout my career to work with terrific people in many different countries on interesting challenges and projects.’

For her part, de Bie has herself received wide acclaim as GC of easyJet and earlier, Royal Mail. Most recently, she is credited for her role in navigating the airline through the pandemic after the aviation industry ground to a halt, while simultaneously responding robustly to a sophisticated cyber attack.

De Bie’s deputy, Rebecca Mills, will be promoted to easyJet’s group GC. Mills, who was highly commended in the Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year category in the Legal Business Awards last year, is well-equipped for the role, having worked for the airline for nearly 12 years, including three years as group head of legal between 2016 and 2019.

Moves that matter

  • GE’s Evelyn McAdam has moved to HSBC to oversee its group M&A section. McAdam joins the bank after more than 15 years at GE, most recently as GC in its renewable energy group. Before joining GE in 2005 she was a senior solicitor at Dentons.
  • Former White & Case partner Emma Parr was appointed GC at newly launched Birchwood Real Estate Capital. Parr joined from Get Living where she spent 18 months as GC.
  • Former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate finance partner David Ludwick has joined Morgan Stanley as managing director in the legal and compliance division. Ludwick spent more than 17 years as a Magic Circle partner in London and Hong Kong, first at Linklaters, before moving to Freshfields in 2015.
  • SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA) has appointed Amanda Sanchez-Barry as its new GC. The ex-Linklaters managing associate joined SBIA in 2018 as a partner. She replaces Spencer Collins who became chief legal officer at semiconductor manufacturer Arm in September 2022.
  • Fast fashion e-retailer SHEIN appointed dual-qualified Chinese and English lawyer Yinan Zhu as GC for EMEA. Formerly the chief legal officer at China-Europe merchant bank DealGlobe, she was most recently a principal at My Inhouse Lawyer, which offers SMEs flexible access to c-suite and senior management expertise.
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner investigations partner Sarah Klein moved in-house as senior legal counsel at Google. Before joining BCLP, Klein was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and previously worked at the SFO.
  • Former Waterstones GC Elisabeth Sullivan joined procurement and supply chain consultancy Efficio in September. Sullivan left Waterstones after less than a year in the GC role, before which she was group legal manager at chemicals company INEOS.
  • Severn Trent has tapped Pinsent Masons for its new GC. Didar Dhillon, who was a legal director at Pinsents, joined in October ahead of the retirement of Bronagh Kennedy, who has held the role for more than 11 years.
  • OpenPayd appointed Richard Given as group GC from fellow fintech company 10x Banking. The former Freshfields associate brings a breadth of in-house financial services experience, including five years as global head of legal for HSBC’s worldwide operations group.
  • Staying on a financial services theme, Reg Dhanjal, a former partner at Pinsent Masons and DAC Beachcroft, has joined Aldermore Bank as GC from payments business WorldFirst, where he was group GC and compliance officer.