GC not EZ


Disruption is a key element in the in-house counsel’s world, and producing more for less a constant challenge, not to mention leveraging technology and globalization. Building a truly outstanding legal team requires hard operational awareness as well as softer intuition crucial to managing across borders and cultural nuances. Author and multinational general counsel Bjarne P. Tellmann explains what it takes in this encapsulation of his new book on the topic

The role of the general counsel (GC) has become ever more challenging. Gone are the days when law firm partners might have viewed the GC’s position as a “lifestyle-friendly” prelude to retirement. Indeed, in recent decades the GC’s role has become one of the most complex and challenging in the corporate world. This evolution has come about due to changes in the macroeconomic environment, as well as within the legal profession itself. Let’s consider each in turn. On the macroeconomic level, regulatory expansion, globalization and risk convergence have played particularly prominent roles in this respect.

Bjarne TellmannGeneral counsel and chief legal officerPearson PLC
Bjarne Tellmann
General counsel and chief legal officer
Pearson PLC

Government regulation has increased worldwide. In the past 15 years, for instance, the US has expanded its rules on money laundering, corruption and fraud, and increased its use of sanctions. Other countries have followed suit. Consequently, companies must now comply with many new, often inconsistent, regulations that impact both their international and domestic operations.

The growth in regulation has been accompanied by increased enforcement and ever-more severe sanctions. In the antitrust area, for instance, the European Commission recently imposed a record €2.4 billion (US$2.79 billion) fine on Google, dwarfing its previous record – a 2009 fine of €1.06 billion against Intel. Antitrust fines imposed by Chinese authorities, meanwhile, increased by 280% between 2014 and 2015 to US$1.12 billion, while the US Department of Justice imposed a record US$2.85 billion in antitrust fines in 2015 – more than twice its previous high and over three times greater than 2014 levels.

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Bjarne Tellmann is the New York-based general counsel and chief legal officer at multinational publishing and education company Pearson. This article has been adapted with the kind permission of Globe Law and Business from his new book, Building an Outstanding Legal Team: Battle-Tested Strategies from a General Counsel
(see: http://www.globelawandbusiness.com/OLT/ for more information)