Significant matters – Spring 2022

Enterprise GC returns with ESG, crisis management and legal tech on the agenda

Enterprise GC, the marquee two-day general counsel event hosted by Legalease, returned to the prestigious Hilton London Syon Park for its fifth year on 25 and 26 April 2022.

Amid much excitement and after a two-year hiatus, this glittering event gathered more than 150 delegates, including the elite of Europe’s in-house profession, to discuss the foremost topics occupying the agenda of GCs. Unsurprisingly, ESG, recruitment, crisis management and the adoption of legal tech were high on the list.

Attendees were treated to a host of plenary sessions, workshops, keynote speeches and roundtables hosted by sponsors including legal solutions company Epiq, KPMG Law, Linklaters, Luminance, RPC, recruitment consultancy SSQ, Thomson Reuters and Bristol-headquartered firm TLT.

Day one saw the main stage welcoming a panel hosted by Thomson Reuters, predicting the big trends post-pandemic and offering practical advice for navigating volatility and uncertainty. A keynote speech from Trevor Faure, CEO of Smarter Law Solutions (pictured right), proved inspirational to many, while a discussion hosted by TLT on governing with integrity, and the inside scoop from GCs at Fremantle and Peloton on responding to crisis situations were invaluable and thought-provoking.

Among the crowd-drawing breakout sessions was a SSQ-hosted discussion covering the hot competition for talent in-house. The roundtable discussion broached the thorny issue of law firms’ highly inflated remuneration for associates and the disconnect posed by the resulting salary expectations of lawyers moving in-house as budgets for most in-house legal departments have scarcely risen.

Legal tech provider Luminance was on hand to provide delegates with a crash course in the use of its AI solution for enhancing the entire contract lifecycle process and automating legal processes. Elsewhere, Epiq led a roundtable exploring the power of in-house teams harnessing data internally to drive efficiency and measure performance.

Despite the revelries of the previous evening’s salubrious gala dinner, day two heralded a keynote speech from best-selling author James Kerr, an informative discussion led by Linklaters considering the pressures on in-house teams to meet ESG targets, as well as a session hosted by Epiq offering tips to GCs in articulating the value of the legal function.

The well-attended final sessions of the day closed the event with a practical debate on how to transition from one sector to another, as well as a useful take on how GCs can use journey mapping to provide a better service and command the same from external law firms.

Slaughter and May, Ashurst and CMS win spots amid Reach’s first ever panel review

British newspaper group Reach plc, which owns brands including the Mirror, Daily Star and OK!, concluded its inaugural panel review in April 2022, appointing seven firms.

Making the final edit were Ashurst, CMS, Deloitte, DLA Piper, RPC, Simmons & Simmons and Slaughter and May. They have all been appointed for a three-year term, starting in May 2022.

Reach adopted the ‘O-Shaped Lawyer’ initiative for its panel process, which included five stages, including an ice-breaker challenge and diversity and inclusion imperatives.

The ‘O-Shaped Lawyer’, set up by Dan Kayne (who recently stepped down from his role as GC at Network Rail to pursue the project full-time), is gaining increasing popularity among in-house counsel, with other adopters including easyJet and Santander. The initiative is designed to identify well-rounded lawyers who encompass the ‘five O’s – being: open, opportunistic, optimistic, original – and who want to take ownership of their work.

The Very Group’s executive team restyled with new GC and COO

The Very Group tempted in-house luminary Charlotte Heiss to the role of GC after more than a decade at FTSE 100 insurer RSA.

Heiss, who trained at Linklaters where she spent eight years before joining RSA in 2010, took over from interim GC Adam Batty who has held the role since September 2021. Heiss will be reporting to group CEO Henry Birch, who said: ‘attracting someone of Charlotte’s calibre to the role of general counsel is testament to the strength of our business and an important step in our continued development. She will play a vital role in reinforcing good governance and leading our business’ response on legal, regulatory and compliance matters.’

Meanwhile, operations director Sean Hallows was promoted to chief operating officer, taking over from Phil Hackney, who will step down in April 2022 after six years in the role. Birch noted: ‘Sean is a hugely respected leader within our business and brings industry-leading experience, having launched and operated Skygate, one of the UK’s most advanced fulfilment centres. He has worked closely with Phil and is absolutely the right person to become our new chief operating officer as we continue to invest in the transformation of fulfilment, logistics and customer care.’

Seven firms aboard for Anchor’s latest panel revamp

Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for the elderly, announced in April a new-look legal panel featuring seven law firms.

Winning a place on the roster were Trowers & Hamlins, Gowling WLG, Capsticks, Devonshires, Freeths, Howes Percival and Walker Morris. Firms will be expected to provide full service legal advice, with the panel running for an initial three years.

Emma Costello, head of legal at Anchor, said: ‘Anchor is committed to partnering with lawyers who not only bring their own specialisms and expertise to the table but also share our core values. We were overwhelmed with the response to our most recent invitation to tender and are delighted to announce that we have secured a new legal services panel with sector-leading advisers, supporting us operationally as well as assisting in the delivery of our progressive growth programme to continue to provide homes where people love living in later life.’

For Walker Morris, the appointment continues a 16-year relationship with Anchor. Partner Richard Sagar said that Anchor’s ‘plans for future growth provide exciting opportunities for us to work with Anchor and with the rest of the panel firms, to deliver quality housing and assistance for older people.’

Capsticks real estate partner Sarah Waite pointed to her firm’s wide range of expertise as being a determining factor in securing the panel place: ‘With a team of experts across regeneration, housing management, corporate and commercial, employment, pensions and litigation, we support our clients at every step of the way. Going straight to the core of every matter, we’ll provide practical solutions that will help Anchor deliver new, high-quality homes (including specialist retirement and residential care housing) and manage their day-to-day operations for the benefit of residents, employees and the wider community.’

Moves that matter

  • Rachel Ford (pictured) joined Gatwick Airport from professional services company Capita, replacing Robert Herga as general counsel and company secretary. Herga is set to retire later this year following more than a decade in the role, after joining from BAA in 2010 where he was also general counsel and company secretary.

    Dutch bank ING appointed White & Case regulatory partner Julia Smithers Excell as managing director and UK head of financial markets legal. Smithers Excell, who’s previous in-house experience includes two years as assistant general counsel at JP Morgan and five years as a regulatory lawyer at Citigroup, will report to Adrian Marsh, UK general counsel.


    British retailer Ann Summers appointed Charlie Fletcher as its new general counsel. Fletcher joins from BT where she focused on digital and commercial partnerships, data, digital and security issues.


    The latest Kirkland & Ellis partner to venture in-house, Kai Zeng joined Blantyre Capital as counsel. His move follows that of former Kirkland colleague Tana Wilner who joined Pretium as vice president of legal and compliance in November 2021.