The many hats interview: Gayle McFarlane

The many hats interview: Gayle McFarlane

This week I'm delighted to profile Gayle McFarlane, partner at Cordery, a specialist practice. Cordery provides innovative ways of helping General Counsel, Compliance Professionals and Heads of Legal across industries manage compliance.

Gayle, how did you end up being a commercial lawyer?

I’ve spent my entire career as a commercial lawyer, having decided to study English and French Law at university mainly because my family thought I liked an argument a little too much!

I qualified as an IT and E-Commerce lawyer, just as the e-commerce bubble started to burst, but as regulation started to hot up. I was hooked on how new technology was going to fit into the existing legal framework, and how we as lawyers would keep up with commercial innovation. I’ve been running with the pack ever since, spending some time as a professional support lawyer and indulging my interest in the black letter law, before moving back to client service a good few years ago to get my teeth back into solving problems for my clients. My move to Cordery really sealed my ambition to focus on technology, law and compliance.

What type of projects are you working on at the moment?

We work on a really wide range of issues at Cordery. I focus on “information law” – data protection, freedom of information, confidentiality and data security, and e-commerce and consumer law, but I have a wide an varied background in commercial law and supporting in house lawyers. I understand the pressures of our clients’ businesses.

Can you fill us in on a memorable moment of your career?

I don’t think I’ll ever forget telling an opposing lawyer in a negotiation to “shush” – finger to lips and all. I blame it on the fact I have a young daughter, and I was so frustrated at the fact the opposing lawyer was (a) not listening, and (b) talking herself into a hole. But where your clients are trying to foster a long term relationship, you often build up a good working relationship with the other side - so the commercial team forgave me, even if I’m not sure she ever did…

I'm sure we've all felt like doing that some time!

What makes a lawyer a commercial lawyer?

Understanding your clients’ business. Unlike a corporate transa

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