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From in-house lawyer to trusted advisor: the importance of understanding your business
A successful in-house lawyer has influence within a business and can add more than just legal value. Kent Dreadon, previously Deputy General Counsel and Head of Legal at Telefónica UK Limited (which operates under the O2 brand in the UK) and now Group General Counsel at Ascential, talks to us about two key elements for success: a thorough understanding of the business and good communication.
Tell us a little about your background…
I grew up in New Zealand and completed a law degree and a business degree there. After two and half years working in New Zealand, I came to the UK where I worked in private practice for 7 years most of them at the old SJ Berwin, now King Wood Mallesons,
in general commercial litigation.
I initially joined Telefónica on a secondment doing commercial litigation. When an opportunity arose to take on a permanent role as Head of Litigation I grabbed it. I really enjoyed the mix of technical legal work and the overlay of the business
part of it. The fact that I’d done a business degree and was interested in that helped.
A key moment for me was when I was asked to get more involved in regulatory disputes. All of a sudden I was out of my comfort zone and dealing with a really complex and challenging area. I discovered that my skill in that space was to bind everyone together,
make the team work effectively, and to have an overview of the strategy and key issues. I initially felt as if I was floundering but I learnt to accept that I couldn’t possibly know everything and that I had to rely on other people who were
bringing their specialist expertise to bear.
Then came the opportunity to take on heading up the competition team
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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.
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