Taking on the world: the challenges facing global counsel

The following In-house Advisor practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Taking on the world: the challenges facing global counsel
  • Tell us a bit about your background and the business
  • What are the key challenges you face when dealing globally?
  • What have been the challenges around needing to know foreign law?
  • You arrive at your desk and there is a global crisis. What is the first thing you do?
  • How difficult is it to accept that you can’t be an expert in all the jurisdictions you deal with?
  • What are the core competencies that you need in your role?
  • What have you learned since you’ve been in the role?

Taking on the world: the challenges facing global counsel

Tell us a bit about your background and the business

I am general counsel for the Global and European hair category at Unilever. We have well known professional hair care and styling brands, for example TIGI, as well as retail brands such as TRESemmé, VO5 and Dove. We also have a number of brands that aren’t in the UK but that are massive globally, for example Sunsilk and Clear. The Unilever legal team is large—we’ve got around 170 lawyers worldwide, at global, regional and local level. Previously, I worked in Unilever’s Leatherhead office looking after the sales teams and supply chain for the UK and Ireland operating companies. I have been at Unilever for 5 years.

Before moving in-house, I was in private practice but was often seconded out. This meant that when I left private practice I knew exactly what sort of in-house environment I wanted to work in. You work in-house because you want to be part of the business. You want to be rolling your sleeves up, getting stuff done and helping the business out. That’s what it’s all about.

What are the key challenges you face when dealing globally?

In my interview for this role I was asked how I would bring the global legal community together. I gave a glib answer that managing a global

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