Delivering business excellence: the role of a legal operations director—an interview with Saswata Mukherjee

Delivering business excellence: the role of a legal operations director—an interview with Saswata Mukherjee

[caption id="attachment_4490" align="alignleft" width="150"]Saswata Mukherjee, Global Legal Operations Director at Unilever Saswata Mukherjee[/caption]

At a time of rapid change in the industry, lawyers’ roles are becoming increasingly innovative. We talk to Saswata Mukherjee, Global Legal Operations Director at Unilever, about the value an operations function can bring to the efficient and smooth running of a legal team.

Tell us about your background and career history

I started with Unilever 14 years ago and have since done multiple roles within the legal function. I first joined Unilever in India, in legal business partnering roles across the country for sales and supply chain or factory-related issues. I then moved to Singapore for a supply chain transformation project involving countries in the Asia.

In Singapore, I moved to a corporate legal role and took over responsibility for championing competition law in Asia. When the GC for that region left, I briefly covered that position until the opportunity for Global Legal Operations Director in the UK came up. It was a newly created role and so was a move out of the comfort zone of being a lawyer.

What were the drivers for creating the role?

When Ritva Sotamaa, our Chief Legal Officer (CLO) joined Unilever, a little over 3 years ago, she came with a vision of making the legal team 'world class' in everything we do. This not only meant lifting talent profile across the legal group but the basics of the legal operations needed to be set up. In Ritva’s vision, firstly it was important to optimise the external resources—law firms and other legal providers such that the law external providers work as an extension of the in-house team, second was to change the learning landscape for in-house legal team in Unilever and providing platforms/tools within Unilever which provides training in both soft skills and technical legal skills and

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About the author:
Sophie Gould is the Head of Lexis®PSL In-house. Sophie worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including seven years as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group. She has also run a legal risk and compliance training business.


Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community.  She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.