Significant matters – Autumn 2023

BT acknowledges diversity efforts of Addleshaw Goddard

BT Group has announced that Addleshaw Goddard has already been appointed to its next legal panel, which will be confirmed in full in 2024. The firm has been recognised as the firm on BT’s existing panel, which has driven diversity and inclusion across all areas of its organisation most effectively.

This follows BT’s 2020 commitment to prioritise diversity and inclusion in the selection process for its next legal panel. It promised that the firm with the best D&I results would have its place on the roster automatically renewed. Addleshaw Goddard was singled out as showcasing the strongest range of ideas, attention to detail, innovation, and overall enthusiasm for its D&I initiatives.

During its review BT also highly commended existing panel members BCLP, Osborne Clarke and CMS, naming these firms as D&I champions.

General counsel, director of regulatory affairs and company secretary, Sabine Chalmers (pictured) said of the appointment: ‘When we began looking at our next legal panel, we wanted to ensure that all the firms involved are playing an active role in building a more diverse and inclusive legal industry. Throughout the assessment process, we were delighted to see that this is an issue that many firms are already taking seriously. We’re delighted to be able to confirm that against very strong competition Addleshaw Goddard was selected as the leading firm in driving D&I, and we look forward to working with them as a part of our next legal panel.’

Cadent Gas refreshes legal advisers

Cadent Gas, the UK’s largest gas distribution company, has updated its legal panel due to evolving market demands. The panel will run for four years.

The panel has three lots of work – regulatory, corporate finance and governance and general services. It has expanded the number of firms appointed on its regulatory and general services lots due to changing business needs.

CMS, Dentons, Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG and Linklaters have been reappointed to their existing lots, with CMS gaining an additional place on the corporate finance and governance lot and Linklaters gaining an additional place on the regulatory lot.

Addleshaw Goddard has been newly appointed to the panel, taking a place on the regulatory and general services lot and DWF has been appointed to the general services lot for the first time.

Diane Bennett, general counsel and company secretary, said: ‘We are delighted to have appointed a new legal panel for Cadent. We will look to those firms to work with our in-house legal team to support our business as we head towards and into the next regulatory price control period and progress our net-zero ambitions.

Sainsbury’s reappoints legal panel

Following a recent review of its legal panel, Sainsbury’s has reappointed eight existing panel firms: DAC Beachcroft, CMS, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills, Linklaters, Morton Fraser, TLT and Winckworth Sherwood.

Sainsbury’s is the second largest supermarket in the UK and its brands include Habitat, Argos, Nectar and Tu.

DAC Beachcroft’s strategic relationship partner for Sainsbury’s, Nathan Butcher, said: ‘Sainsbury’s is a significant and much-valued client, and we are looking forward to strengthening our deep and trusted relationship with its legal teams and continuing to provide advice on the complex and challenging issues currently facing the retail sector.’

Mark McQuillan, TLT’s client relationship partner for Sainsbury’s said: ‘We’re delighted to have been re-appointed to Sainsbury’s legal panel across a wide range of disciplines for the next three years. A key aspect of the Sainsbury’s panel is that it has, for many years, operated as a true legal community of all the firms and the in-house legal team allowing for real, meaningful collaboration. We are excited to be able to continue to work as part of that community, to really help deliver Sainsbury’s key objectives through 2026.’

The next panel review is scheduled for 2026.

Freshfields survey says employers should refresh whistleblowing training

Surveying more than 2,500 managers in the UK, US, Germany, Hong Kong, and France, Freshfields global whistleblowing survey has found that less than 50% of respondents believe the ‘average employee’ at their organisation would know what actions they should take if a whistleblowing incident was to occur. The survey results highlight the need for stronger speak-up culture in organisations backed by robust policies and processes.

The survey also found that just under 28% of respondents believe the #MeToo movement has led to companies improving their whistleblowing procedures. 29% feel that agile working has led to fewer instances of whistleblowing as employees were less likely to hear or see issues than if they were in the office. However, 29% of respondents felt that employees would likely feel more comfortable blowing the whistle due to the added privacy of homeworking.

Moves that matter

  • Zac Katz, the former head of legal and corporate affairs at Age of Learning, has joined Grindr as its general counsel and head of global affairs. Reporting to CEO George Arison, Katz is tasked with building a global affairs function that collaborates with Grindr for Equality, aiming to enable a more tolerant world for Grindr users and the broader LGBTQ community. He previously served as chief of staff and chief counsel of the federal communications commission in the Obama administration and was a corporate and litigation associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson before moving in-house.
  • The Guardian US has appointed Kai Falkenberg as its first-ever general counsel. Reporting to Steve Sachs, the Guardian US managing director, and Betsy Reef, the Guardian US editor, Falkenberg will be the principal legal adviser to the Guardian US. She was previously executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at G/O media and before that acting commissioner and first deputy commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of media and entertainment.
  • Stax Payments has announced the appointment of Lisa Roberts as general counsel and senior vice president. With extensive experience in the payments and fintech sectors, she joins from NCR Corporation where she was law vice president and chief counsel for payments and network. Previously, she has worked at Payment Solutions, Worldpay and SunTrust bank after moving in-house from Arnall Golden Gregory.
  • After 15 years at Devon Energy, Lyndon Taylor has joined ONEOK as executive vice president, chief legal officer and assistant secretary. Taylor founded and led Skadden’s Houston office prior to moving in house. He has in-depth experience across the energy sector, having advised on mergers and acquisitions, regulatory compliance, capital markets and Securities Exchange Commission activities, commercial transactions and employment matters, litigation and intellectual property.
  • American International Group (AIG) has appointed Patricia Walsh as executive vice president and general counsel. Reporting to AIG chair and CEO, Peter Zaffino, she will be responsible for AIG’s legal, regulatory and compliance function and will lead on government affairs for the company. She moves from Stripe, where she was previously general counsel and corporate secretary. She has also worked at Voya Financial, Cigna Corp, MassMutual Life Insurance Company and Cleary Gottlieb.
  • Jeffrey Goodman, formerly contract counsel at Wells Fargo, has joined WSFS Bank as senior vice president and general counsel. Goodman will report to WSFS’s senior vice president Lisa Washington and will act as the primary support and adviser for the bank’s commercial division. Goodman trained at Scherline & Associates before holding a variety of in-house positions at companies including MUFG, Newtek Business Services, DLP Capital and Santander Bank.
  • PensionBee has announced the appointment of Matthew Cavanagh as its new chief legal officer and general counsel. Moving from Quatar Investment Authority, where he was director, executive legal counsel, he will be responsible for advising all aspects of PensionBee’s business and its respective boards as well as managing its external legal advisory relationships. He has worked previously in private practice at Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Skadden and King & Wood Mallesons SJBerwin.
  • Meanwhile, Norton Rose Fulbright has hired Alison Kellett. Kellet moves back to private practice from BNP Paribas, where she was head of group dispute resolution for UK, Channel Islands and Nordics. Kellet is also chair of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, the first woman to have held this position.