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One of the biggest challenges facing in-house legal is being valued by the business as more than ‘just lawyers’. How can you ensure legal is shaping, rather than simply assisting, the business? Sophie Gould talks to Mark Maurice-Jones, General Counsel and Head of Legal Services, UK & Ireland, at Nestlé, about how he aligned his team with the business to increase its power as an influencer.
Tell us a little bit about your background and your team …
I started off life as a scientist, reading chemical engineering at Cambridge. I realised I didn't want to be a chemical engineer, so I taught in Hong Kong and then decided to come back to the UK and study law.
I ended up in private practice as an anti-trust lawyer. After 5 years, I decided that I wanted to go in-house and work for a big company with opportunities internationally. I started as a junior member of the legal team at Kimberly-Clark. It was a very broad corporate and commercial role, and I really enjoyed the international nature of the work.
I spent 15 years there and then joined Nestlé two and a half years ago. I sit at the top of the legal team and report into the Chief Executive for UK and Ireland. I also have a dotted line into the Regional General Counsel, based in Switzerland. There are around 15 people in my team and eight of them report directly into me.
When you first joined, how did you get under the bonnet to understand the role legal played in the business?
The first thing I did was devise a Hundred Day Plan of what I wanted to achieve. I spent a lot of time talking to the business and getting opinions. I did a detailed workload analysis to try and understand what were we actually doing, who was doing what, and whether work was being correctly apportioned.
People were assigned work in accordance with their legal expertise. We had a
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Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices.
As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers. These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK. She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors.
She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.
Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.
0330 161 1234