The role and function of general counsel continues to transition from primarily legal to one integrally involved in strategy and operations. This evolution provides GC’s an opportunity to reassess their relationship with the organisation and how to best serve it. What does it mean to be a ‘trusted advisor’ and how do you get there? How have organisational expectations evolved as the role of GC and legal departments changed? We asked an expert panel for their thoughts.
- Examining additional skill sets and traits needed to be an effective advisor?
- Navigating organisational dynamics when advising on strategy, operations and other key functions
- How has the evolving role of the GC changed its relationship with other parts of the organisation?
- What drives success for the modern GC?
General Counsel – New Zealand & Pacific, Coca-Cola Amatil
General Counsel & Company Secretary, Foodstuffs North Island Limited
General Counsel, Icebreaker
The past year has brought novel challenges to the New Zealand employment legal landscape unlike any other. Organisations need to continually monitor changes and new developments in employment law to ensure they are meeting their evolving duties and obligations to their employees. This session will examine some of the important legal developments of the past year, review the latest case law and regulatory changes and provide an overview of critical areas to keep an eye on as we move into 2021.
Senior Solicitor, SBM Legal
The legal department is a strategic partner to the business, but some or all parts of your organisation may not understand or accept the strategic nature of the relationship. Bringing a strategic mindset to one’s work is critical in the new pandemic era. Managing the change to align with the vision of the legal department as strategic partner can bring organisational, cultural and efficiency challenges. How do you build or reshape the legal department and the organisation to accommodate this changing role, especially in today’s dynamic environment? How does one ensure the culture of the organisation aligns with legal objectives while achieving its strategic goals?
- What leadership skills are needed to drive change?
- Changing the culture and mindset of the department and the organisation – key steps and considerations
- Working with limited budgets and resources while driving change and expanding scope
- How do you maintain a strategic mindset if you operate globally?
- Ensuring the right mix of talent, retention, skills development and training within the legal department
General Counsel, Harmoney
Head of Legal and Regulatory & Company Secretary, Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited
Lead Counsel, Vodafone NZ
General Counsel, Samsung Electronics New Zealand
As legal departments take on added responsibilities and issues become more complex, digitalisation can play a critical role when managing with limited resources. Further, technology can reduce dependency on external counsel by bringing inhouse work previously outsourced. How can legal departments embrace technology and other innovations to better manage workloads? What processes and tasks are ripe for automating?
- Identifying questions that need to be asked prior to the digitalisation journey
- Understanding how this impacts the organizations legacy and IT infrastructure
- Important considerations including hosting vs cloud, security and protection of data, custom vs out-of-box, and project budgeting
- Examples of automation, artificial intelligence and other innovations and tools that have been integrated successfully
Associate General Counsel Construction, Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities
Associate General Counsel- Legal Operations, Kāinga Ora
Lawyer & Legal Technologist, Juno Legal
GM Legal and Business Advisory, Xero Limited
Whether working for a for-profit or private organisation, dealing with the boardrooms and owners can be a complicated and challenging duty for a GC. In addition to advising on complex governance and other boardroom issues, GCs are involved with complex interrelationships within the boardroom, between the CEO and the board, and among subcommittees and outside stakeholders.
- Discuss the different approaches GCs take to communicate and navigate the relationship with the boardroom
- Dealing with multiple personalities
- Gaining boardroom confidence
- What are the key trends driving change in the relationship with the board?
- Examine when, where and why outside counsel might need to be engaged
- How has the heightened focus on corporate governance by stakeholders impacted the advisor role?
- GC as intermediary – balancing the relationship with the CEO/executive and the board
Senior Legal Counsel, New Zealand Post
Head of External Relations & General Counsel, New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX)
General Counsel & Company Secretary, AIA
Chief Governance and Sustainability Officer, New Zealand Post
In an era where businesses are increasingly competing on new ideas, innovation and brand prominence, intellectual property has become one of the most effective means of creating a competitive advantage. But how do you get it right from the very beginning? what happens when issues arise, and how do you identify risks early on to avoid costly legal complications? This session will cover lessons learnt from IP disputes and how to implement best practices to mitigate risks and reduce costs.
Senior Associate, James & Wells
PANEL: The In-House Counsel’s Role as Business Risk Manager – Balancing Risk Tolerances and Strategic Objective
Each day, inhouse counsel can be overwhelmed with an intake of requests for advice and guidance from across the organisation. These can involve a diverse range of scenarios and business issues, all of which can have different degrees of legal and operating risk. Whether advising on contracts, marketing law, or cross-border regulatory issues, decisions must be well-informed and oftentimes made within limited timeframes. How can an inhouse counsel ‘square the peg’ – be agile and adaptable, yet offer guidance that is sound and informed? How can they maintain the trust and confidence of the organisation while ensuring the organisation maintains the appropriate risk boundaries?
- Examining how differences in risk tolerance across an organisation can influence judgment
- How does one best educate themselves on distinct types of risk and best advise on them?
- Knowing and appreciating one’s limits
- How do GC’s ensure their voices are head and that they are included in early conversations to mitigate risk?)
- Examples of how to manage inherently risky strategy and operational challenges encountered daily
- What should GC’s do when advice is ignored?
Legal Counsel and Company Secretary, Kathmandu Limited
General Counsel & Company Secretary, Air New Zealand
General Counsel, Kiwi Wealth
Ethical Considerations for In-House Counsel – Bridging the Divide as Business Partner and Organisational Guardian
The multiple hats an inhouse counsel wears can bring numerous ethical challenges as GCs balance their advisor role with their professional legal obligations. Adding to this challenge, those in other functions may not discern the complexities of these constraints, which include conflicts of interest, breaches of duty and violations of privilege and confidentiality. This session will consider a real-world case study to examine some of the ethical bear traps inhouse counsel regularly face and advice on how to overcome them.
The role of GC provides a strong opportunity to gain a deep understanding of an organisation’s operations and competitive environment, and events of the past year have brought many learning opportunities. Further, their position has given them a comprehensive view of other leadership roles, corporate strategy, and other challenges beyond the scope of a traditional GC. For GCs looking for a career change, this experience provides a sound platform to move into a new role, but one that can carry certain risks. What does a GC need to consider prior to transitioning? How should they approach their organisation when they decide they want to step into another leadership role? How can their experiences from the pandemic help them succeed in other positions?
- How does a GC initially communicate their interest to move outside the legal department?
- How does one prepare in advance to ensure they have the right transferrable skills?
- Examples of skill sets critical for leadership
- What does a healthy transition look like? What are some of the risks that need to be considered?
HR & Legal Director, Mediaworks
Lead Legal Busines Partner (AGC), Spark New Zealand
Chief Operating Officer, Warren and Mahoney