Aligning legal risk to the risk appetite of the business – Sophie Carter, Global Head of Legal and Company Secretary, Christie’s

Aligning legal risk to the risk appetite of the business – Sophie Carter, Global Head of Legal and Company Secretary, Christie’s


“As a legal department, yes we have to look at strategic direction…but we also have to bear in mind those fundamentals…reputation and client trust.”

The raft of high-profile corporate failures coupled with increased ethical and regulatory breaches that carry weightier consequences continues to persist. In parallel, what expected of the legal departments increases exponentially.

More and more, the legal function has moved away from being a business backstop that is seen as overly conservative or a “non-business-minded” cost centre operating reactively to legal requests. Instead, in-house counsel increasingly take a far more proactive stance, work to add value to their organisations, are prepared to challenge at the highest level and actively shape how their business carries out its objectives. 

In this TED-style presentation, Sophie Carter, Global Head of Legal and Company Secretary at Christie’s speaks on risk and strategy and what those really mean to her business, the importance of alignment between legal and the business and the foundations needed to achieve this.

Legal are active influencers of risk appetite

According to Sophie, the role of the legal department is not a passive one of “this is what the business wants, this is how we align”. Rather, when it comes to the risk appetite of the business, it is more of a discussion and it is essential that in-house counsel actively influence the risk appetite. 

Using the unique challenges faced by Christie’s, Sophie highlights why this active influencing role is so critical. Christie’s operates in a highly competitive market which means bringing increasingly complex new products to market – quickly. Further, the speed at which her and her team need to negotiate a client contract and understand all the risks involved is incredibly fast-paced - and increasing. 

Moreover, there is the delicate balance of a sophisticated nigh net worth customer base alongside managing unique works of art to be sold. 

"The only way we can operate is for the legal team to be completely integrated with the business – at a macro-level and a deal by deal basis.”

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About the author:

Louisa leads marketing for the in-house legal community at LexisNexis. She joined the dedicated in-house team at LexisNexis four years ago and has a passion for driving and facilitating initiatives which are customer-focused at their heart. Her vision is to support in-house counsel succeed in their fast-evolving role based on deep insight, data analysis and best practice gathered across the in-house community.

Prior to her in-house focused role, Louisa led the marketing for the bar and mid-market private practice sectors as well as product marketing lead for LexisPSL - LexisNexis' cloud based, practical guidance and legal research software solution.

She brings 20 years' marketing experience both client and agency side, specialising in B2B marketing in the Legal, TMT (Telco, Media and Technology) and Financial Services industries. In both South Africa, Europe and the UK.

Louisa is also an active member on the LexisNexis Gender Equality Matters (GEM) steering committee and is involved with the Families at LexisNexis Group which brings together, supports and lobbies for change those with an interest in balancing the challenges of work and family.