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For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: France, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region...read more
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across France, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. The GC Powerlist: France features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: France, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in France or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: France
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
legal department manager
deputy legal director competition
group general counsel
head of legal
Euro Cargo Rail France
assistant general counsel – commercial
general counsel exploration and production
senior vice president, general counsel M&A and strategic purchasing
managing counsel Europe
legal manager- Europe real estate department
deputy general counsel
group general counsel
group general counsel
director of intellectual property, digital and distribution
deputy general counsel
head of legal affairs and deputy director
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Aymar de Franqueville
Adecco Groupe France
Alexandre De Tourtier
group general counsel
deputy general counsel
global copyright director - reputation intelligence
group general counsel
legal director, corporate finance and treasury
general counsel for Orange business services - legal and regulatory team
associate general counsel and co-head of Global Banking and Markets
AXA Investment Managers
general counsel - reactors and services business group
Vice President & General Counsel- EMEA France
legal director - head of France, Middle East and North Africa
head of legal
head of litigation & arbitration
regional general counsel - EMEA and chief counsel IP and technologies – global procurement,
group general counsel
director of legal and social affairs
director of legal affairs
general counsel gas and deputy general counsel international
group general counsel and company secretary
Compagnie des Alpes
vice president, head of legal region, general counsel France
Harald Peter Knöbl
Engie E&P International
group head of legal
head of legal
Assistant vice president and senior legal counsel for cross-border legal
Eric Le Cann
Stéphanie Le Coq de Kerland
general counsel services and networks
Anne-Sophie Le Lay
group general counsel and secretary to the board
Amundi Asset Management
General counsel – Kering Italia and luxury goods international
executive vice president & general counsel
financial lawyer- EMEA Equity Capital Markets
head of legal Western Europe
corporate senior vice president, group chief legal officer
director legal - decorative paints
head of international legal department
general counsel Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa
executive vice president, general counsel
group general counsel
director corporate law, mergers and acquisitions
director group legal and human resources
director of media and production
Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT)
director & legal counsel
chief legal counsel France
vice president, legal - EMEA cluster and France
director legal and regulation - energy management and trading
International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)
head of legal affairs
Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP)
head of legal and compliance
BNP Paribas Personal Finance
general counsel France
legal director - GBU Special Chem
general counsel and compliance officer
chief legal officer & real estate
Head of intellectual property – industrial partnerships SNCF Réseau
senior executive director - corporate legal affairs & secretary of the board
group general counsel
senior vice president HR legal
legal director France
legal director and chief compliance officer
Clear Channel France
group chief legal officer
Deputy general counsel – Diversification
group general counsel
chief legal officer
director of legal affairs
Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF)
group general counsel
group general counsel
group general counsel and head of group human resources
group general counsel
group general counsel
Arnauld van Eeckhout
vice president, legal affairs Europe
Ivanhoé Cambridge Europe
Miguel Videira Pimentão
legal director and corporate counsel- France and Southern Europe
group chief legal & compliance officer
Viel & Cie
vice president legal and business affairs
Ivan Alamilla graduated as a lawyer in his native Mexico in 1999 (Universidad La Salle). Already fluent in Spanish and English, he added French to his repertoire whilst studying Business Law at the University of the Social Sciences, Toulouse. Later on, he obtained a legal Masters degree at Instituto de Empresa, in Spain. He joined agricultural co-operative group Vivescia in February 2009 initially as an international lawyer, eventually being appointed group's legal department manager in 2014. Now leading a team of six, Alamilla has completed projects and business sales overcoming the complex legal, economic and tax structures acquired companies had with their parent companies. On one multi million euro transaction that took two years to complete with a large international client, Alamilla skilfully managed to move the client's policies and traditions in order to adjust the contract to a real agreement of two parties. He and his team continue to implement electronic data management at Vivescia to protect the documentary heritage of the whole group. Due to the volatility of grain prices and variety of markets Vivescia operates in, Alamilla provides a global legal business vision that can ‘better assess the risks and advise on the best protection levels required for each job, each contract for each transaction’.
As deputy legal director for competition, Clémentine Baldon has reorganised the workings of her legal team to take on a more digital form by introducing IT and other collaborative tools. In making use of these new technology tools, Baldon has enhanced efficiency through real-time decision making and has encouraged flexibility in the manner in which the team works. In handling several high profile cases, Baldon and her team have had a direct impact on the financial and operational aspects of the company. Dealing with numerous authorities, Baldon leads her team to meet the high expectations of the company in situations such as policy change and competitor practices, taking into account not only legal needs but also the technical and economic requirements of Bouygues Telecom. Having developed trust with senior management Baldon can rely on her business partners to contribute to cases while they can rely on her and her legal team to handle competition issues and other challenges affecting company stakeholders. Although mainly involved with competition law, Baldon has also triumphed in cases concerning commercial law, showcasing her talent across various practice areas. With prior experience as a French lawyer for almost 10 years and as a qualified solicitor in England & Wales, Baldon brings a diverse range of legal nous crucial to the future success of Bouygues Telecom.
Benoit Balmary oversees the 20 legal departments housed within global automotive giant Michelin Group. Balmary took up his current position of group general counsel in 2014 and has since won widespread praise for helping to improve communications both within the various legal teams and between legal and business functions. Under his watch, observers have noted, the legal team operates as a best-in-class support centre for day-to-day matters while also retaining its ability to resource highly technical matters. Balmary began his career in-house in 1994 with the Renault Group as a lawyer for international contracts and was promoted to assistant legal director in 1995. In 1999 he served as the head of finance and security law before moving to the role of senior corporate lawyer at Alcatel-Lucent in 2001, subsequently rising to the rank of general counsel. He joined Dassault Systémes in 2006 as legal director.
Euro Cargo Rail (ECR), a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn and the first private railway undertaking in France, appointed Agnès Bardel as head of legal in 2009. Having begun her career as a lawyer for four years in private practice, she moved in-house with publishing company Le Figaro in 2003 where she remained legal counsel for five years. Now at ECR, she first implemented the legal department upon her arrival, organising the necessary internal processes and training. She excelled in her first mission and dramatically downsized the monetary expenditure on external law firms by securing the handling of all legal matters in-house, excluding litigation. This was the product of comprehensive training, process management and operational understanding. In 2012 Bardel was attributed for her work against the French state-owned railway utility SNCF for its abuse of dominant market position, an award granted by the French Competition Authority (FCA). The potential success of this case was doubted by many in the industry owing to the difficulty in justifying the abuse. ‘It has been a surprise for everybody and a great satisfaction for myself’, Bardel says. Her efforts in litigation presented before regulatory authorities have opened the gates of the rail freight market to competition and have formed a strategy that defends the rights of new entrants. Making headlines in the industry, finding practical solutions, avoiding risks and saving several million euros for ECR are just a few of Bardel’s notable points. Bardel has recently changed roles to join Id Verde as the head of legal.
Elliott Beard worked for Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s corporate practice group for four years in New York and three years in Paris before joining Becton Dickinson’s EMEA law division in 2004. As assistant general counsel for commercial at the medical technology company, Beard supports two business units in Europe as well the group’s country organisations in France, Italy, Spain and Greece. Beard implemented and managed the hiring and training of junior lawyers in Europe, which he describes as ‘a much more cost-efficient approach to managing routine legal support’. Beard is also heavily involved in coaching for negotiations and constructive challenges, teaching two-day advanced classes. Under his existing title he manages global legal matters of the group’s two business units with an annual turnover of over $2bn. He is further enhancing efficiency through the management of routine standard contracts, dealing with confidentiality agreements and consulting agreements. ‘Perhaps the greatest single pressure from the market has been to perform and drive down costs at the same time, requiring a close look at how to most efficiently manage legal support while still providing world-class, business-relevant guidance to our internal clients’. With a good understanding of the intricacies of business and legal boundaries, Beard sits on both leadership teams of the two global business units that he supports and enjoys ‘the diversity of people, places, and matters – there is never a dull moment’.
Maurice Bensadoun joined the water division of transnational water, waste and energy management company Veolia as chief of legal and insurance counsel in 2011, responsible for a team of 200 lawyers spread over 45 countries. Bensadoun sits as a board member on the Association Francaise des Juristes d’Entreprise (AFJE), the first professional organisation of corporate lawyers in France, and plays a significant role in helping to develop France’s community of corporate counsel through his regular involvement in a number of industry forums. He began his career at Texas Instruments in 1979 before moving to the French nuclear company Framatome in the 1980s. At Framatome he was responsible for negotiating nuclear contracts in a number of jurisdictions across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. He also created the company’s first training programme on contract negotiations and third person liability, which was subsequently completed by more than 300 people, including three quarters of the legal team. In 2001 Bensadoun played an integral role in Framatome’s merger with divisions of Siemens, a deal valued at over €1bn to consolidate 13,000 staff which led to the creation of Areva (now Areva NP). He served as deputy general counsel and chair counsel for the newly formed Areva, directing a global team before leaving the nuclear industry after 25 years to teach an international programme for trainees at Université de Montpellier in 2004. In 2005, he joined Assystem Group, a multi sector engineering group listed on the Paris stock exchange, as director of legal and insurance. During his time at Assystem, Bensadoun helped to develop a strong legal team and grow the business through mergers, overseeing an increase in the company’s sales from €50m to €900m. For his many achievements he is recognised as one of France’s leading in-house lawyers and is singled out for his ‘international experience, strong skills and charisma’ by one senior nominator. Bensadoun left the company in early 2016 to become the director of the French Association of Corporate Lawyers.
‘Among the number of responsibilities I have had to cope with, in my career in and outside the legal function, the most exciting and rewarding of all has certainly been that of corporate lawyer in the hydrocarbons business’. Michel Berger joined Total in 1981 in the oil and gas exploration division and has worked under numerous titles, accumulating a number of professional achievements over time. Having been assigned to international corporate affairs, Berger established the first long-term representative office in Brussels; the advantages of which encouraged other major European and American companies to follow suit. As the legal director of the financial holding he clarified and simplified the legal and corporate structure by divesting financial participation in sectors that did not encompass the core of the business. Between 1998 and 2005 during his re-visit to the oil and gas exploration division, this time as head of legal, Berger successfully negotiated numerous large oil and gas projects in South America and the Middle East. As the general counsel for Total Chemical he consolidated the legal management into two fully integrated legal teams based in Paris and Brussels. Drawing on over 30 years of experience at Total, Berger continues to shape the legal landscape, improving functionality between lawyers and implementing best practices in legal management. Having helped steer Total through troubled economic times related to the steep down turn of oil and gas prices in 1990, Berger, armed with respectable experience and knowledge of company history, is well placed to take Total through contemporary challenges the company is facing in Africa and the more recent drops in oil prices. He comments: ‘the best ways to address such critical issues are to improve our internal legal processes, the reactivity and adaptability of the legal function to ever evolving legal environment’. Experience and achievements speaking for themselves, Berger will continue to be a crucial and indispensable component of Total.
Marc Bergmann has offered his services to the in-house part of the legal sector for 25 years, with both international and regional expertise across the technology and energy sectors. He has demonstrated his legal knowledge in the acquisition of more than 30 companies which have led to the tripling of revenue for Gemalto, in turn delivering a new direction to the company. Bergmann can be attributed for legally moving the company from a manufacturer of smart cards to a leading business in security technology and SIM cards. Overcoming challenges such as parallel management of three acquisitions spread over multiple jurisdictions and dealing with professionals worldwide, Bergmann’s role is truly international. His merger and acquisition negotiations have helped shaped the company to what it is today, with his intellectual property background an additional benefit enabling him to protect the products of Gemalto in the process. Bergmann stands as an admirable role model in his professional field and an indispensable member of the group shaping its growth over the years.
Achieving a meteoric rise within the company he joined in 2008, by 2011 Matthieu Bernat was made responsible for the management of a team and in 2014 became the managing counsel for Europe at Renault Group. Assuming these responsibilities in such a short amount of time provides evidence of the way the business sees Bernat as a trusted player within the Group’s endeavours throughout Europe. His first actions in his current role were to change the lawyers’ time allegiance from administrative formalities to focus on important projects with high stakes. He streamlined the department so that the legal secretariat of all French subsidiaries, comprising around 100 companies, were outsourced to a law firm with fixed fees. From there onwards legal has been able to dedicate time to files that change the commercial outlook of the company, whilst also nurturing relations with the commercial subdivisions. Bernat pioneered a Legal steering committee with Daimler and Nissan, two strategic partners of Renault, bringing legal conformity between them. Such an innovative move provides a platform to share common issues on projects such a vehicle development programs, while allowing for real-time updates on major transactions. This move has helped shape the premeditated course of some of Renault’s accomplishments. In 2012 Bernat and the deputy general counsel were at the frontline for the acquisition of Russian carmaker AvtoVaz, manoeuvring the deal through a complex web of facts such as the target being a listed company and the buyers, Renault and Nissan, acting jointly. Both internal clients and external team members have praised the efforts made by Bernat during this deal. Displaying an ability to handle several complex issues on different projects at the same time, Bernat proves time and again his versatility and poise with complex legal matters.
Ingrid Berteyn first joined Decathlon in 2000 as a real estate lawyer, a position she held for eight years after which she was promoted to legal manager for the entire French real estate department. Her skill set, capabilities and experience within Decathlon, one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers, has carried her forward to her current role. Sources praise Berteyn’s ability to swiftly transition between roles: ‘I saw her taking her job with an open spirit, with very concrete ideas and to implement a great deal of needed changes’ one source opines. In this role she has reorganised the legal function to match the growing needs of the group while providing central support to all the different in-house teams located across various countries. Working closely with her team, Berteyn has helped define and create several key positions including a real estate legal manager and real estate international lawyer, which were non-existent before her time. Sources also state that under Berteyn’s management, ‘the role of the lawyer has also changed from strictly legal adviser to legal and financial risk manager’.
Frédérique Berthier has been instrumental in the successful completion of over 50 M&A projects over a period of seven years covering over 40 countries. ‘Mergers and acquisitions are an absolute growth pillar for Imerys and by setting up processes I am considered a “deal accelerator!”’. Overcoming the daily legal encounters Berthier concludes that the biggest challenge is ‘volume’, indicating that the legal department is ‘potentially a victim of its own success’. Managing a team of 19 lawyers located in eight different offices, representing nine different nationalities and with a diverse range in age and experience, Berthier has succeeded in reorganising the team to increase the profile of the EMEA commercial legal team and transforming the Asia Pacific team in conjunction with the company’s operations in China. Moreover, she initiated the Toward Transformation project aimed to support the Imerys’ predicted growth plan over the next three-to-five years, by increasing agility and resourcing of the team. The project is transforming the mission of the team ‘from a hands on business partner – which was perfect for a certain cycle of life of Imerys– to a trusted advisor at the right level of value added’. Looking back through the rear-view mirror Berthier highlights that ‘today versus before 2009, the crisis is that our business time horizon has shrunk: midterm used to be three-to-four years ahead, now one can only think 18 months max’, this means that ‘sometimes [we have to] to fly without instruments. This has required an even greater flexibility and agility from the lawyers – hence the need for our “Toward Transformation” project’’. Conveying great enthusiasm for the profession, Berthier truly enjoys being in-house and considers managing a team as an ‘amazing’ experience.
Dominique Bourrinet is ultimately responsible for all legal matters in each of Société Générale’s markets and oversees a team of more than 1,000 lawyers globally. His role at the French banking giant has seen Bourrinet deepen relations with global regulatory bodies to ensure that constantly evolving challenges and regulations are effectively met. He has held senior positions at Société Générale since 1994, initially a member of the corporate and investment banking team, Bourrinet quickly rose to general counsel for the function before moving on to the role of group deputy general counsel. He took up his current role as group general counsel as of December 2013. He has previously worked at BNP Paribas in the Eurocredit department and as a consultant at Cegos, where he contributed to the European Social Fund. In addition to managing the legal risks, policy and global relations for one of France’s largest banking institutions, Bourrinet is noted for sharing his wealth of experience in finance and law through lectures hosted across various institutions, including the Paris Bar School (École du Barreau de Paris).
Cristophe Brie is an accomplished general counsel with particular expertise in compliance and risk management. With a career spanning over 25 years in the law, Brie began his career at Air France in 1990, spending a total of 10 years working primarily on labour law litigation, contracts and presiding over legal information systems. In 2000 he joined global provider of innovative high-tech engineering services Altran Technologies as group general counsel. During this period Brie managed the company’s intellectual property, insurance, corporate law and criminal business law needs in addition to training managers and leaders. Six years later Brie took on his current position as general counsel of Sonepar France, the electrical home and industrial equipment supplier. Heading a team of two lawyers as well as a network of eight correspondents Brie has facilitated the acquisition of a number of companies for Sonepar by defining and prioritising actions in relation to managing risk levels and task assignments. During his time he has embedded a risk policy that provides the legal framework for potential new business ventures that remains both viable and consistent with business strategy. One of his most significant achievements at Sonepar has been integrating over 600 branch managers and their operational units to adopting a pragmatic legal approach to sales.
L’Oréal’s group general counsel Yannick Chalme has been with the cosmetics company for 15 years, helping to protect its world-renowned brands in the face of growing infringement globally. His profile among French lawyers is significant and he is known as one of the leading figures in-house. In 2010 he was appointed president of Le Cercle Montesquieu, the prestigious French association of in-house lawyers. Chalme began his career with French oil and gas installation contractors GTM-Entrepose ETPM (now Stolt Offshore), where he supported the company on legal matters surrounding marine oil projects. A rare breed of lawyer, Chalme has moved in and out of private practice throughout his career and has held senior in-house positions in a number of sectors. In 1987 he moved to Thomson CSF’s (now Thales Group) to help oversee its aeronautical equipment team as deputy legal director. After a spell in private practice he moved to tourism and leisure company Club Mediterranée as group general counsel and secretary of the board.
Accor Hotels have a portfolio of over 6000 trademarks and they operate in around 92 countries across the world with over 3500 hotels and 5000 domain names under their control. Marie Champey, director of the intellectual property, digital and distribution is in charge of the legal protection of the vast number of trademarks and domain names. Champey began her journey with Accor in 2008 as the head of the intellectual property department, and moved into her current role in 2014. The department is thriving under her instruction and has been recognised both within the company and through awards given by external industry bodies. Aside from the defence and protection of the company profile, Champey extends her legal services to licenses, the group’s contracts and also non-IP related commercial matters. Displaying outstanding organisation, Champey is praised internally and externally for her managing of over 100 law firms and successfully dealing with copyright matters and design models for the group in numerous jurisdictions. Confronted regularly with issues including trademark infringements, cybersquatting and data protection, Champey is a truly ‘on the ball’ lawyer, a necessity in the fast-moving digitalised environment the company operates in.
Philippe Chavasse has, with the assistance of the IT services of Fives Group, interweaved technology modernisation throughout the legal department. A software application allows him to have a clear interpretation of all legal activity, including those involving outside counsel, and makes the handling of sensitive dossiers easier. Chavasse is also leading the team to create videos depicting training sessions on specific contractual themes to assist employees without consuming too much of their time. In 2009 he was appointed deputy general counsel having started his journey with a subsidiary of Fives, an industrial engineering group, which was called Stein Heurtey when he joined in 1998. With his entire in-house career dedicated to the Fives Group, Chavasse is acknowledged for his many litigation wins, including arbitration, and specifically his ability to ensure favorable outcomes even in less favorable circumstances, in some cases, on last minute notification. With over 20 years of knowledge of Fives’ history and his staunch legal fortification of the group, Chavasse has contributed to monetary savings through his laudable foresight in risk management and settlement in litigation transactions, he has also encouraged the growth of the group through imaginative contractual structures.
Philippe Clerc is a distinguished and a well-respected expert in the field of space law, having worked in the somewhat niche market for over 25 years. Currently acting as the head of legal affairs for the space agency of the French government, Clerc has had a career that is defined by being at the leading edge of a developing industry. He began his career in 1989 as a legal and tax expert at CNES and by 1993 he had been made responsible for relations with the European Union under CNES’ Directorate of International. Clerc took a year out to study in the first Masters of Space Studies program, returning to CNES to work under the General Directorate on strategy, defining the framework for the company’s new partnership policy. Between the years of 1998 and 2003, Clerc was seconded to the Space Department at the Ministry of Research, representing them at the board of the French Frequency Authority, he was appointed coordinator of the Espace & Société workshops. It was during his time at the Ministry that Clerc completed the draft report on the enactment of a national space law where coordinated consultations between departments, industries and academics to form the French Space Operation Act (which came into play in June 2008). The Act had a major impact on CNES’ strategy, along with influence on Clerc’s decision to divide the legal department into two services: contracts and intellectual property rights; and corporate legal services at the national and international level. He has moulded his department into two views, one that is a ‘keeper of legal conformity of CNES activities’, and the second which serves as the innovative function designing new legal instruments. Clerc’s efforts have created a formalised cooperation framework between academic and research entities, while allowing CNES to form deep relations with the European Space Agency and the EU. Clerc has become used to operating in an area of law that is often undefined in an industry that is constantly moving the goal posts. As a result of his expertise and knowledge, CNES is now globally recognised as a trusted entity for Space Law making and lobbying.
Aymar de Franqueville, general counsel at human resources company Adecco, runs his team so that ‘the legal department is a business line as any other’, but one focusing on compliance and the systematic review of the group’s contractual obligations. de Franqueville has spent the majority of his career as a corporate counsel, having acted in various in-house roles since 1990. Over the years he has gained many reputable achievements, but he most cherishes those that have seen international development for his companies achieved by mergers, acquisitions divestments of companies along the way. Somewhat of an in-house chameleon, de Franqueville has adapted to a diverse range of sectors throughout his career including oil and gas, marketing, DIY, apparel and now to human resource and employment services. The standout achievements of his career are his opening of commercial undertakings in emerging economies such as China, Russia and Ukraine and development activities in Brazil. de Franqueville has brought many operational changes to data privacy at Adecco having initially joined the company as a data privacy officer; this is an area that he strongly believes needs to be closely followed by legal.
Solocal Group (previously PagesJaunes), is a leader in three different business lines; content and service provision, media and advertising representation and online media content. Alexandre De Tourtier handles the legal aspects of all major deals, in particular mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and information technology cases. Having built strong relationships with outside counsel, he is praised by one such lawyer who states that De Tourtier ‘succeeded in the necessary transformation of PagesJaunes’. The group’s alteration could not have benefited any more than from the years of experience De Tourtier brought to his new role of general counsel in 2011. Having joined PagesJaunes in 2005 as corporate director he worked in various roles, providing him with the ammunition needed, in the form of company knowledge, to put forward a well-grounded legal battle while allowing him to determine risks and protect the company’s activities. De Tourtier has spent much of his career within the internet and digital sectors, starting out with France Telecoms (Orange) where he built his skillset through the telecommunication company’s abundance of acquisitions and changes in operations. He also assisted in the preparation of the initial public offering for France Telecoms. Mentioned across many publications such as the Option Droit & Affaires, De Tourtier is making his mark on the legal sphere while using legal to shape the consistent growth of the Solocal Group.
Jean-Benoit Devauges joined Renault in 2000 after spells at the Foreign Service, where he spent 15 months in India with the French Foreign Minister, completing the bar exam and then a brief spell at a Paris-based boutique arbitration firm. Initially joining the French car giant, Renault, as an in-house counsel, Devauges became exposed to a broad range of international transactions involving mergers and aquistions, joint ventures, manufacturing licensing, auto parts and components supply for the company. In 2006 he moved to Nissan under the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Acting in roughly the same capacity, Devauges was part of the global legal team, based in Japan, working on a range of corporate and commercial transactions involving Nissan’s European, Indian and Middle-Eastern operations. In 2008 he moved internally, switching continents again. Based in Nashville, Tennessee at Nissan’s North American headquarters, Devauges worked on various corporate transactions involving supplier insolvencies and bankruptcies. Devauges re-joined Renault as deputy to the group general counsel in 2011 overseeing a corporate law practice team of 25, responsible for the company’s general transactional, anti-trust, real estate and environmental matters. With Renault moving from a historically centralised, European-based corporation to a more global, regionally diverse company structure, Devauges and his team worked to develop a regionally aligned departmental footprint consistent with the strategic objectives assigned to the legal function. This strategy involved rethinking the sizing and purpose of the existing headquarters teams, ensuring legal’s participation in all key regional business and management committees as well as creating an environment facilitating legal department collaboration across headquarters, regions and country-based subsidiaries and affiliates. As examples of recent representative engagements, Devauges and his team advised the business on the structuring and negotiation of strategic investments in Russia and Algeria in 2012/2013, helped establish an automotive production joint venture with Dong Feng in China in 2013 and provided key US/EU sanctions compliance advice in order to ensure preservation of the company’s business and reputation in Iran and Russia.
Learned in Political Science and History of Media, Christophe Dickès started his journey with Press Index, a technology leader in media watch and monitoring, in 1999. Building his career towards data management and copyright law, Dickès evolved to cater for the international market when the company was bought by Kantar Media in 2012. His successful juggling of challenges of the absence of rights management in some countries or, conversely, the very strict management of copyrights in other countries brought Dickès’ efforts into the limelight. He was elected Copyright Commissioner of two international federations namely the FIBEP (Fédération Internationale des Bureaux d’Extraits de Presse) and the AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication). This appointment has led Dickès to work with European institutions in the development of a new directive on copyright at a European level. Organising summits allows him to convey the needs of the sector with politicians, debating the necessities of the industry. His tireless dedication to media does not end with legal, he has also made landmark impressions working as a publishing manager with Canal Académie for over seven years and has taught at numerous schools and universities. Dickès, in addition, indulges in journalism, having worked with several companies, such as Le Figaro and Robert Laffont for more than 17 years, an interest that he is still undertaking. At Kantar Media, Dickès creditable systematisation of copyright allows for him to represent a cost center for the sold products and has advanced the internal level of respect for copyright, making Kantar Media the only international company paying copyrights in all the countries it operates in. In certain jurisdictions Kantar now acts as a consultant on media. Dickès is pioneering an influential stance on the European laws aiming to overcome the fragmented world of European copyright law. ‘I must first of all defend an activity and an industry. Business and legal relationships with these rights holders are the heart of my profession’. Although not a corporate lawyer in the strictest sense, his work and skillset speak for themselves as those expected of a prominent in-house lawyer.
Graduating from the University of Rennes and beginning his career in 1990 with PwC Legal and Tax, Boubakar Dione began his journey with Bpifrance in 2006, when the company was still known as Caisse des Dépôts. His promotion to group general counsel came in 2013, trusted with the legal function throughout the financing group that specialises in small-to-medium-sized enterprises. Years of experience have led Dione to produce numerous publications based on diversified financial topics and is one of the pioneers for “economic Francophonie” in Africa. He also has many years of teaching with Paris Panthéon, disseminating his knowledge of financial markets and the legal sector. Dione currently has 20 employees reporting directly to him and an additional 30 under functional reporting. Dione created the Bpifrance team based on the definition of legal doctrines, resulting in an amiable department effectively supporting the ambitions of the company. Having overcome the challenges of an environment of a post-merger of four companies and being part of Bpifrance from its inception, the legal structuring and implementation of the group is in large consigned by Dione.
Carlos Döring portrays a multi-cultural understanding that has allowed him to conduct M&A projects in more than 20 countries. As legal director for corporate finance and treasury at French telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent, Döring has foraged a true partnership with his internal clients. Along with business counterparts, he has directed his team to help the company overcome financial troubles. The legal team are appreciated for their ability to have conducted 20 capital transactions in a short span of two years, saving the company from potential insolvency. Managing the company’s balance sheets and their daily legal needs, Döring has sought re-profiling through both private and public transactions in both equity and debt markets. He also established a saving facility for the company, taking in to consideration all major assets. ‘Working at the front core that powers the internet’ Döring is a subject matter expert in legal finance, saving the company billions while developing in-house expertise for the unforeseeable future. As of January 2016, Alcatel-Lucent has merged with Nokia, bringing more change for the in-house legal team.
Rémi Dujon has been part of the legal function at Orange for almost 20 years, having held various positions after first joining as legal counsel in 1997. Dujon has played a pivotal role in providing legal support to the most important deals of the company, including those with international giants such as Yahoo!, Google and Apple. Dujon has covered all manner of deals ranging from small scale regional negotiations to industry-shaping ones, most notably the iPhone deal for the Orange Group. Keeping track of 100 plus employees, he must constantly find the means to make the teams more transversal to improve internal communication. As one of his most notable in-house achievements, he recalls the simplification of contractual documents and adapting them into the company, effectively bringing down a 50 page folder to an eight page comprehendible document. Those that have witnessed Dujon’s work comment on his ability to close large deals, in particular highlighting a large litigation case that he transformed into a reasonable settlement agreement with poise and simplicity. Over the years, Dujon has countersigned the company’s evolution by ensuring that the legal department is with the company every step of the way, which he puts as ‘having relevant profiles to support the new business both internally and externally’. In addition to his professional success, Dujon ensures that he is always accessible and available to team with co-workers rating the experience of working with him as a true pleasure.
‘We are living in a challenging period, but also a very interesting evolution, where due to all these new constraints we have to reinvent our function and our way of working’. Laurent Durand, associate general counsel at HSBC France, sees a positive light in the gloomy environment of the banking industry. Durand supports the global banking and market activities of HSBC, with a focus on markets, businesses and advisory activities such as mergers and acquisitions and securitisation. He heads a team of 10 lawyers who report directly into him: ‘As manager my principal effort is to help lawyers of the team to be resilient to the deep transformation of the banking industry which we have had to face since the Lehman crisis. One of his many achievements include the ‘first ever senior secured corporate bonds listed in France, which are at the crossroad of several areas of law such as real estate, financing, bonds and markets’. The challenges in banking are what Durand finds most interesting, a very robust background in finance allows him to navigate under several levels of complex law (national, regional and cross border) and envisage creative solutions to each new product, transaction or organisation. He is also the president of the legal committee at the French Association of the Financial Services (AMAFI) and a member of numerous working groups within the financial sector.
‘My experience at Cdiscount, and now Cnova, within France and internationally, is certainly one of the richest in my career’, says Marie Even who has been with the company since 2009. In 2012 the legal department at Cnova, an e-commerce company, received an industry award for the best large and medium corporate legal department from Trophées du Droit, an illustration of the team’s performance. Even has 14 lawyers reporting into her, quite an inflation since she joined as there were just two employees. The legal expansion has taken place over a span of six years in mirror image of the growth of the company. The growth of the company saw a transitional period of management, expansion into new fields and a change in skills and working methods. Even and her team were quick to evolve, moving some lawyers to management positions in order increase internal mobility. When asked what her biggest challenge to date has been, Even describes the handling of her very first initial public offering managed in-house without external help. Expert at facing adverse situations, she directs her team to overcome problems that face the business, turning them around to a favorable position. For example, due to the actions of the legal department, the 2015 harmonisation of French regulations with European regulations, regarding the restrictions on announcements of price reduction ran smoothly when it could have been a difficult time for Cnova. Even is proud of her team and their ‘ability to issue the rhythm of the business’.
Aymeric Flamant has an impressive academic background holding a Master’s Degree in both business law and public-private partnerships as well as an executive diploma from Wharton University. After graduating he worked with law firms in France and the USA, equipping him with skills that would boost his career in-house which is fully vested with AXA. ‘Aymeric has taken the best of both private practice and the in-house lawyer. He is an outstanding lawyer, including in respect of technical matters’. Initially joining as the head of the corporate legal group, in charge of M&A, contracts and litigation his promotion came in 2012 where he was fully trusted with all legal undertakings as general counsel. A testament to his leadership to an estimated 70-strong team, nominators are not shy of praising his management with one source stating: ‘Seen from the outside, he seems to manage his team very well and lets them own their matters, and therefore has a very stable team and certainly one of the best in-house legal teams among investment managers in Paris’. For his ability to ‘swiftly identify the key issues and knows where to focus attention and time’ it comes as no surprise that Flamant sits on the Audit and Risk Committee as secretary and is also Board Secretary of AXA Investment Managers, some of its subsidiaries and AXA Real Estate. Sources state that he is ‘very reactive and easy to work with, always with relevant and well-grounded decisions’. ‘Aymeric is not only an outstanding counsel with remarkable legal skills, but is also a great project manager and team leader in the challenging legal and regulatory environment the investment management business faces every day’.
‘The lawyer must ensure to be both a generalist open to the world and its cultures and work tirelessly on his technique (as a pianist for example). There is no formula and only evidence in continuation’. Michel Friocourt has been with the world leader of apparel and luxury goods retailer Kering, which previously traded as Pinault Group, since 1989. In his recent role he is the special legal advisor to the CEO, continuing to influence the company’s direction. Friocourt played a crucial role in the 1990 merger between Pinault and CFAO, a distributor of electrical equipment in Africa, and the takeover of Conforama in 1991. This brought with it an evolution for Pinault Group, manoeuvring it to its current position as a leading player in retail distribution. Fricourt was the legal backbone during the sale of the Group’s timber activities and annexes in 1992, during the same year when Pinault was moulded into Pinault-Printemps via the takeover of the Spring Group (La Redoute and FINAREF). His legal services have allowed Pinault to expand internationally into the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors and has supported the internationalisation of company brands such as Conforma and FNAC. In 1999 Fricourt infiltrated the luxury goods market, purchasing brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and the takeover of Gucci. This eventful takeover of luxury products in a highly turbulent environment is quoted in “The War of Luxury” by Stéphane Marchand. He played an essential position in the 2007 bid for PUMA AG where has been a director since 2011. Friocourt is on the Board of an abundant number of entities under the Kering Group. Supporting transactions, installation and management of decentralised teams and his prediction and anticipation of strategic manoeuvres are a few of the many roles that Friocourt has taken to shape Kering as it stands today. An in-house lawyer and advisor of the highest quality, Friocourt says it’s owing to ‘the attitude of ambition, courage and responsible creativity, before the need for change that I think characterises the DNA and the spirit of Pinault. It is this context that permits my constant professional renewal and has made me to try and to stay “up to standard”’.
Antoine Genevois has over 12 years of understanding of AREVA Group’s business across the USA and Europe, having held a number of roles. During that time he has reorganised the French legal team adding a commercial advantage to the nuclear power and renewable energy segments. Genevois merged teams that were working on similar issues and with similar customers, but with different business units, in order to encourage the ‘cross-fertilisation of knowledge and ensured that [they] are coherent in [their] answers to the customers’. Genevois is recognised for introducing flexible methods that complement the international nature of the group. Most notable is his simplified approach to policies and contracting rules in China that support the business without the back and forth of paperwork with the headquarters. In his previous role with AREVA in the US, Genevois handled a diverse range of legal issues in order to obtain loan guarantees from the Department of Energy; these totaled into billions of US dollars, and included the landmark loan attained for the construction of an enrichment facility. Having earned the trust of the top management and across the day-to-day business team in both the US and France, it comes as no surprise that those working with Genevois admire and praise his work ethic and management capabilities in addition to respecting the level of trust he creates between him and his peers.
Johan Gerrese, vice president and general counsel at leading telecoms provider Alcatel-Lucent, is one of the most experienced global counsel working in Europe. Over a period of 20 years, Gerrese has worked with international law firms and multi-national companies such as Destec Energy and Enron in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He joined Alcatel-Lucent in 2001 as vice president and assistant general counsel before moving to a similar role in the company’s China-based holding, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, in 2007. In these roles Gerrese has achieved notable success in commercial transactions and negotiations and is praised for smoothly negotiating the complexities of the power and telecom industries. Well accustomed to dealing with cultural differences, he will now be called upon to help bring together two very different corporate cultures following Alcatel-Lucent’s January 2016 merger with Nokia.
Maria Gomri joined Google France in in 2006 as a senior legal counsel and has made noticeable and numerous changes to the technology giant. Gomri has had many promotions during her time with the company, in 2001 she was promoted to head of legal, in 2012 to legal director - head of legal France and in early 2015 to her current role as the head of legal for three regions. In this role she leads a 10-strong team and has introduced many initiatives to improve the team’s output, for example fostering a teamwork environment between the in-house lawyers across Google ‘by identifying the best practices for international collaboration and legal pitfalls to avoid’. Many within the company, and other followers of Google’s corporate activities, praise Gomri’s ability to pacify relationships with the French news organisations. She completed the legal work to establish a €60m fund that helped settle a dispute on whether Google should pay to display news content in its search results. Her idea is now being extended for duplication throughout the entirety of Google’s European regions with a budget of €150m. Gomri displays a strong ability to think outside the box when faced with challenges, an ability she would like to see the outside counsel resonate.
Florence Guéry began her legal career in private practice law firms and also spent time in the legal service of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Making the move in-house in 1997 with the Louis Dreyfus Group where she worked until 2008, Guéry went on to achieve success occupying varying posts of company lawyer. Guéry was acknowledged for her work in the new telecommunication subsidiary, Louis Dreyfus Commodities (which later became Neuf Cegetel), where she was involved with the leadership team on strategy and regulation handling competition, litigation and negotiations with industry agencies and regulators. At Neuf Cegetel she successfully managed 20 successive acquisitions bringing to light her ability to excel at such transactions and restructuring on an intense scale. Guéry participated in the utilities industry with Direct Energie where she adapted to the nature of contractual OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and agreements for combined cycle gas turbines leading to her recruitment with Neoen, a producer of electricity from renewable energy. At this point, her business-orientated approach resulted in the successful acquisitions of Poweo EnR and Juwi EnR in 2011 and 2015 respectively. As Neoen develops its international base, Guéry facilitates partnerships with local contacts and impacts the designs of its subsidiaries. Reflecting on her negotiation skills, Guéry has ensured absence in disputes or litigations with customers and suppliers. Describing her enjoyment in the in-house role Guéry says, ‘I am happy to be part of this generation of lawyers that is no longer perceived as a kind of qualified internal barony of "support service." But is able to give a real operational dimension to the legal function and that it be integrated as a link to the business service’.
In 2013 the position of head of litigation and arbitration at Veolia Environment was created for Jean-Marc Guillot. Involved in the re-organisation of the utilities, water and waste management branches of the company also allowed for better customer service through integration of the group’s geographical locations. The restructuring also introduced a merger of the legal departments of the three business holdings, namely water, waste and energy, with the legal division of Veolia Environment. Guillot has been practicing in France and abroad for over 20 years and has worked in the environmental services, luxury wine and spirits and consulting sectors. He has been with Veolia since 1996 in the waste management and transport/travel branches of the company before his role in the environmental sector. Throughout his various roles, his work on acquisition files have enabled the international development of Veolia to its current worldwide presence. He is appreciated for his ability to manage departments with limited resource, such as his success in waste management where he directed a team of five to successfully handle the legal needs of 20 subsidiaries. Having established a track record with the company and gaining trust within the wider business, Guillot now handles worldwide reporting and monitoring of significant litigation groups and is the company’s “go to” legal counsel for the handling of sensitive files.
With long-term in-house legal experience covering a number of internationally focussed companies, Renalda Harfouche brings both understanding and a diverse skillset to her current role at Ipsos, the global market research company. Previously, she was responsible for the creation of the legal department at Nouvelles Frontières Group (New Frontiers Group) in 2002, leaving a legacy of a genuine working relationship between legal and business. Indicating her high level of industry knowledge, Harfouche was appointed Chair of the Committee of the National Union of Travel Agents Legal. She has also worked in the marketing and advertising industry, always striving towards international legal management on behalf of her internal clients, including at Franprix (Group Casino) in a previous role. With a working knowledge of four languages it comes as no surprise that those who have worked with Harfouche are most impressed by her ability to navigate projects in multiple jurisdictions and creating long term relationships in the process. Her past experiences allow her to put in place effective and rigorous procedures to increase efficiency, the results of which have been commended by both internal and external lawyers she works with. Through this expertise and cultural awareness, Renalda Harfouche therefore leaves long-term imprints of her legal workings in each of the companies she works with.
John Harrison was appointed group general counsel, a newly created position within the executive committee of the Airbus Group, in 2015. His new role consolidates the three functions of corporate secretary, general counsel and head of ethics and compliance. Harris joined Airbus from the energy construction and services company Technip where he served as group general counsel, a role that was also created upon his arrival. Prior to joining Technip he served in a number of roles at EADS (now Airbus), including as the GC of its defence and security division. Standouts among his many achievements in-house include brokering the legal aspects of Technip’s cross-border agreement with Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions for the acquisition of the polymer production activities at Zimmer technologies and his work helping to shape the EADS legal team. Harrison brings with him a wide experience of corporate and commercial, compliance and corporate governance expertise. He has previously worked at Clifford Chance and is solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.
Guillaume Hecketsweiler was appointed general counsel at Air-France-KLM in 2014 and holds joint responsibility, alongside corporate secretary Jacques Le Pap, for implementing the group’s legal strategy and policies. Hecketsweiler began his in-house career in 2006 as senior legal counsel at Lafarge where he was responsible for corporate matters in Europe, Russia, CIS and Latin America. This exposure to cross-border legal work led him to the financial services sector where he served as general counsel and a member of the executive committee at Fonds Stratégique d'Investissement (FSI) and Banque Publique d'Investissement (Bpifrance). During his time at Bpifrance he oversaw legal matters relating to the funding of a diverse portfolio of blue chip clients in a number of sectors. Hecketsweiler is a well-known and respected member of the in-house community in France and has given a number of talks and lectures on legal topics. He has previously worked for major US law firms in Paris, London and New York.
The Champagne Roederer group, a seventh generation family-run business, specialises in the production of fine wines from the iconic region in France. With continuous expansion over the years, the group need to increase its internal legal support, recruiting Frédéric Hérault to create a legal department to meet its commercial development. Now leading a team of six covering both legal and human resources, Hérault has successfully integrated his new department into the business. ‘In a context of greater risk control, the legal team has been growing into the company and has gradually expanded and specialised. It is now at the heart of corporate strategy and is attached to the CEO’. Hérault’s expertise has armed the Roederer group with legal protection needed for its world-renowned brand and its intangible assets. Directing his team on all matters globally, he has established a legal and risk database within the finance department, and has won a number of favourable rulings to protect the commerciality of the group. Hérault deals with everything from intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, assisting with projects and litigation, to trading agreements and marketing. He has even extended his efforts to human resources, aiming to improve relationships with trade unions by developing a policy of adequate employee relations. Hérault is a true guardian of the Roederer group assets and a knowledgeable guide for the strategic direction of the company.
Vanessa Hespel-Perin was first offered the opportunity to move in-house to manage the legal affairs of RELX France, the owner of publishers Lexis Nexis, Elsevier Masson and Fricosoft and Reed Expositions. In addition, she was also requested to engage her expertise to create a legal function for Reed MIDEM (under Reed Expositions France) which organises renowned events around the world. Hespel-Perin plays a pivotal role in the launch of events in Asia, Europe and Latin America, while participating in acquisitions when required. In reorganising the team, Hespel-Perin introduced centres of expertise (for example, intellectual property and digital advertising) and single points of contact where each lawyer is appointed interlocutor of different commercial divisions ‘to bring in very short deadlines and more concrete solutions’. As a member of the legal and tax committee of the French Meeting Industry (Union Française des Métiers de l’Événement) UNIMEV Hespel-Perin represents the sector before public authorities and is also a member of the Montesquieu Circle the French association of corporate lawyers. Offering legal protection to Reed, Hespel-Perin is helping overcome the economic threat of individuals and organisations making use of events without registering. She established a broader strategy to raise awareness and is negotiating agreements to privatise key locations defending the interests of both the company and registered professionals. Embracing the legal sector fully, Hespel-Perin also participates in a mentoring program for students who complete the law course and is also on the editorial board of JEM, a French corporate lawyer magazine.
Delphine Jacquemont has held the combined function of general counsel gas, since 2008, and deputy general counsel international since 2015. She first joined EDF in 1991 to negotiate contracts for loans, bond issues and to work on project finance and acquisitions. Having evolved through various legal functions with the group she was also posted in Italy and Poland, locations where the group was showing potential growth ambitions and would need legal support. She is known internally for the introduction divisional competence through training and recruitment of expert lawyers on issues relating to gas when it was still a new topic for the company, making the transition to new activities much easier and fruitful for EDF. This legal function now operates on all links of the gas chain and accompanies the commercial and engineering aspects of all project development phases. In 2012 Jacquemont created the “golden rules” used to guide internal negotiations, describing the points that negotiators must obtain or refuse; these rules have been validated by senior members and have become a repository used by all the group’s companies. She has accompanied EDF on long legal journeys where, within a team, they have succeeded in ensuring that the company obtains the important rights and protections it needs to commercially move forward, some involving different jurisdictions. ‘When I joined EDF more than 20 years ago the lawyers were confined to administrative tasks or reduced to manage disputes. Imposing the role of an in-house lawyer as a useful partner to the business was a challenge in a company essentially made up of engineers!’ She has redefined the legal role in EDF and when asked what she enjoys most about her role, Jacquemont says: ‘influencing strategic decisions and sharing her expertise and passion with her team’.
Philippe Jutard has put in place mechanisms that enable legal to be at the heart of Compagnie des Alpes, providing swift and homogenous guidance to all entities and departments ‘without having to reinvent the wheel each time’. Jutard has a diversified background across a variety of sectors: working in advertisement for five years, oil and gas for over 10 years and now in leisure, travel and tourism for over 10 years. This plethora of experience allow him to combat the different legal requirements of a ski resort operator like Compagnie des Alpes; from private law covering their involvement in leisure parks to public law and public service delegations under which all ski resorts operate. ‘If outside counsels are specialists in one field, the difficulty for an in-house lawyer is to be competent in all fields of law’. His most celebrated achievement at Compagnie des Alpes came during the handling of a 45% acquisition of Futuroscope Park that was handled in conjunction with the director of strategy. Jutard’s advice to developing legal departments is that ‘reporting directly to the president of the company is a key element of success for a legal department that can intervene upstream, but it is also a major challenge and implies being concise, precise and going straight to the key points and not into the technicalities’.
Ian Kayanakis’ legal career began as a Paris Bar attorney and at Lazareff & Associés, one of the most reputable names in international arbitration. Given this foundation, Kayanakis was well suited for his participation in the creation of aerospace giant EADS (now Airbus Group), joining them as the international legal counsel in 2001, only a year after the creation of the company. He assisted on the to-be-built Defence Division, after which Kayanakis became senior legal counsel of the branch. Kayanakis then joined CAC 40 energy company Technip in 2008 where, in addition to managing the group’s litigation, he served as secretary of the M&A committee having led the company’s largest acquisition plan since 2000. Working with internal strategists and financial analysts, Kayanakis was responsible for presenting files to the committee for “go” and “no-go” decisions. Career highlights include the acquisition of Global Inc, Stone & Webster and Cybernetix. Having left Technip in January 2014 he founded the Lexalis Council, an independent financial and legal advice company supporting companies and investors. He joined ATOS a year later, managing a “Legal Region” which covers major events such as the Olympics and the jurisdictions of France, Iberia, India, Middle East and Africa. His legal region comprises circa 30,000 employees and over €2bn in revenue, which he is able to support with a legal team of 26. Kayanakis states: ‘I took over my current position with a clear goal: creating a legal region based on nation-centric legal teams’. Successful in his goal he now has a fully integrated team organised in accordance with jurisdictions where the revenue targets of the group are realised. As a member of the Global Business Units committee, Kayanakis is a respected business partner navigating the company through complex topics vital to the health of the entire Atos Group. Obtaining a finance background through an executive education at the INSEAD Business School has better aligned his commercial credibility: ‘I truly think that the more a general counsel follows the same business education, the more likely it is that they will be recognised in terms of executive business positions’.
Despite his many years spent in academia, Harald Peter Knöbl broke away from the normal path of a lawyer and opted to work directly in-house with the German subsidiary of Gaz de France (GDF), now known as Engie. He changed his field to suit mergers and acquisitions in the energy sector at a time when the general public had little focus on the subject matter. In 2006 Knöbl was invited to join the Paris headquarters of Engie as deputy head of the legal department, ‘this move was indeed the perfect combination of a new challenge (Exploration & Production (E&P)) combined with past experience (mergers and acquisitions and energy)’. Then, in late 2011, when the E&P Department was transformed into GDF SUEZ E&P International, Knöbl was recognised for his restructuring of assets and affiliates into a single holding. He proceeded to manage the sale of 30% of the holding to the China Investment Corporation. His seamless handling of a data room with over 10,000 documents, approval process in approximately 20 countries and negotiations of a completely new entity, are highly regarded and commended. Having settled the team during a cultural shift, Knöbl has also introduced synergies between the lawyers in various affiliates allowing for knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences while complementing different cultural backgrounds. In his current role as general counsel and as secretary to the board, Knöbl proves to be the diplomatic bridge between shareholders while adding value to the strategic direction of the company. ‘The overall perception of management with regards to the added value is more that with a capable legal team in place, they are on the safe side in conducting the company’s business in all its facets’.
Before moving in-house in 2011, Olivier Kodjo thrived for 10 years at law firms including Coudert Brothers, Lefèvre Pelletier & associés, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Dentons. During this private practice experience Kodjo built up expert skills in M&A and corporate finance, both of which have proven crucial to the tasks he now performs in his group head of legal role at Solairedirect. Kodjo’s first in-house role at Solairedirect saw him take charge of the legal aspects related to cross-border acquisitions, equity finance and project finance transactions for developing, constructing and operating solar photovoltaic plants. His low corporate risk approach, business acumen and ‘clear cut way of getting deals done’ is needed as his department try balancing new deals whilst closing deals that are still ongoing. Kodjo advises on the project finance, legal structuring and negotiations on equity investment in portfolios of photovoltaic projects by infrastructure funds and strategic investors. In one of the company’s most recent deals, Kodjo negotiated a financing agreement with multilateral financing entities and development finance institutions for assets throughout the United States, Latin America and India. Following the recent integration of Solairedirect into the Engie Group, Kodjo has been promoted to group head of legal. Here he is in charge of legal services through all business segments and geographies ensuring legal compliance with internal governance principles as well as Engie Group policies. He is described by his peers as ‘meticulous, smart, discrete and a pleasure to work with’.
Elodie Lalanne-Larrieu joined renewable energy operator Valorem in 2008. The legal department, which she created as one of her first tasks at the company, comprises of four lawyers that manage the 125 companies which make up Valorem. She leads her team with the view to ensuring the companies prosperity in a number of different ways including managing project developments, real estate and project finance. Her role also involves participating in divestments and asset acquisition, monitoring of subsidiaries' operations and their maintenance along with research and development. Lalanne-Larrieu created dedicated litigation and development services ensuring the legal team’s input into the monitoring of projects, allowing the company to make more accurate and “safe” decisions. Similarly providing legal risk analysis she enables management and the executive committee to carry out informed decisions from a legal perspective. Participating in strategic decisions reflects her internal reputation as a true professional that adds value to the company. Demonstrating her proactive and responsive approach, Lalanne-Larrieu says that the breadth of regulatory changes in the renewable energy sector has ‘forced the company and myself to always be ready to adapt to the new rules’ adding ‘I have to think constantly to preserve the interests of the company, without depriving it of opportunities to develop’ illustrating the fine line Lalanne-Larrieu and her team must tread.
Paul Lanois, senior legal counsel of cross-border legal at Credit Suisse, extends his responsibility to business initiatives across EMEA and guides the development of marketing tools such as online tools and apps, in conjunction to his daily workload of asset, corporate and banking management. Lanois is fully immersed in the global nature of his role and is therefore in charge of updating and developing manuals and frameworks for each of the bank’s divisions. ‘In order to truly serve our internal clients, we strive to provide comprehensive legal advice so that the legal department speaks with one single voice’ he says. One source points out Lanois’ successes stating that he has ‘lead the legal analysis of some of the bank’s key initiatives, such as Credit Suisse Invest (the bank’s new investment advisory service) and the bank’s new digital private banking platform (Digital Private Banking)’. Lanois’ early career contains significant experience in corporate mergers and acquisitions through associate roles at international law firms Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Allen & Overy and Linklaters. Lanois developed a strong academic foundation with a Maitrise, Magistère and an honouree Masters from University of Paris, an LL.M and Wharton Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and as an attorney admitted to the New York, France and Luxembourg bar. His academic grounding has led to his role as an associate professor at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, under which he also teaches on joint programs with various universities across Europe. He regularly publishes book chapters and articles on data protection, technology law and privacy law that are quoted on well-known platforms such as Bloomberg Businessweek and the International Tax Review. Moreover, Lanois is invited to share his abundance of knowledge as a panellist speaker at events such as Infosecurity Magazine and for the French Parliament. Lanois is a mentor figure to many and a certified expert on privacy (Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)) in Europe, the US and Canada. With a strong grounding in technology law he is an unquestionable asset to the global activities of Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse recognised his efforts recently when awarding him with the Credit Suisse general counsel Award for Partnership based on his ‘outstanding achievements, exceptional partnership and significant contributions to the division and the bank’.
SODICA is part of Crédit Agricole Group's Private Equity & Finance Division (CACIF) and Eric Le Cann has been general counsel for the past seven years. SODICA specialises in long-term capital growth in the food, agro and vineyard industry while also working as a financial advisor in small to mid–cap merger and acquisition transactions. The Private Equity business unit at SODICA is run under IDIA Capital Investment and includes advisory services on pre-IPO placement and capital fundraising; the financial advisory arm is under the SODICA Corporate Finance business unit. Le Cann established the legal department for SODICA, moulding the department in a manner that he saw fit to provide comprehensive advice to the front office functions, and it now sits as a true business partner. He is respected for his capability to navigate the diversity of the group’s activities and for his efforts in the completion and integration of acquisitions. One transaction that attracted attention was the approval from authorities for the activities of both IDIA (Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD)) and SODICA (Consultant Financial Investment (CIF) status). He is in addition credited for innovation and success of overcoming pre-contentious situations that posed to a potential risk to the corporate image. Innovation in distress is Le Cann’s strong suit.
Prior to her current role, Stéphanie Le Coq de Kerland spent seven years with the law firm Fidal during which time she was tasked with the incorporation of the firms’ international department. Having gained expertise working with a diverse clientele, in 2012 she moved in-house with real estate development company Nexity, persuaded by the diversity of the group and the positioning of the legal department. She was tasked with dealing with the day to day legal issues of all the group’s subsidiaries. In 2014 the department was reorganised to include a division entitled “Services and Networks” to include both the steering of legal and economic issues, and in particular the legal management of real estate services. Le Coq de Kerland was made general counsel of this division while still having responsibility of her previous role, allowing her to ‘take charge of a large team and further diversify [her] field of intervention’. Having changed the legal team’s mission from ‘purely litigation files’ to cover all areas that may be required, they have now identified the types of dispute likely to occur in order to propose operational action plans. Leading a team of 10 and participating directly in the group’s project methodology, Le Coq de Kerland has extended the group’s strategy to incorporate digital issues. Presenting innovative solutions within a highly regulated market and successfully turning around a team formed only in the management of litigation, to make it operational and pragmatic, Le Coq de Kerland is bringing new legal dimensions to Nexity’s internal operations.
Anne-Sophie Le Lay is responsible for overseeing Renault’s global legal activities and acts as advisor to the board of directors. She joined the company in 2001 to help oversee the sale of its Billancourt site near Paris and was gradually incorporated into its senior legal team as part of the company’s international expansion strategy. Le lay was promoted to head of environment, energy and real estate in 2007 where she led planning and execution for Renault’s move into a number of new markets, including the development of new facilities in Morocco. She has also helped to coordinate the Renault-Nissan alliance framework on batteries for electric vehicles. In 2011 she was appointed general counsel, after being widely praised for her grasp of both the details of the sector, business activities and for her broad understanding of corporate law. This experience led to her appointment as director of the French Association of in-house lawyers, Circle Montesquieu, a position she has held for four years. She began her private practice career in 1996 as a real estate and corporate law specialist and has worked in both France and Canada.
Jeremy Leach has been vice president, group general counsel and secretary to the board of the global producer of aluminium semi-products Constellium, since January 2011. Since the inception of the legal department to its current position steering the strategic direction of the company, its life span is bestowed on Leach. He led the recent Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Constellium on the NYSE in 2013 and led the department during a period of understaffing. Leach has also managed the secondary registrations in US dollars and euro denominated bond issues. Leach began as an English solicitor working with international law firms such as Richards Butler (now Reed Smith) before going in-house in the industrial sector through his legal role with Pechiney in 1991. Before his role at Constellium, Leach was previously general counsel at Alcan Engineered Products, having gained experience and industry knowledge at Alcan Packaging, Rio Tinto and Pechiney. Constellium was the result of the sale of Alcan Engineered Products to Apollo Management by Rio Tinto before eventually going independent. His years of expertise helped facilitate the sale and purchase of the company with the result being its current market position. His understanding of the history of the company and its commercial grounds helps him foster the legal services to be both the foundation and pillar of support that Constellium requires.
Managing 105 full-time equivalent employees in 21 businesses scattered across 11 different jurisdictions, is in itself a challenging assignment. Loïc Legouet has implemented an ingenious and efficient legal business line in order to overcome the size and reach of Amundi, keeping up with its rapid development. The structure allows direct access between commercial and legal teams, with each commercial department having a dedicated legal partner. From the creation of Amundi from the merger between Société Générale Asset Management (SGAM) and Crédit Agricole Asset Management (CAAM), to the Initial Public Offering of the company on the Paris Stock Exchange, Legouet has never disappointed in providing the vital and complex legal assistance Amundi has needed. Among his many achievements, Legouet’s daily working alongside senior partners in order to orchestrate a legally correct strategic direction of the company is one that he enjoys the most. Having had a robust background starting in 1988 working with Banque La Hénin (a CreditSuez Group function) and thereafter with Société Générale, Legouet has that extra edge when leading Amundi through the permanent regulatory evolution effecting the asset management industry. Legouet has proved many times over the course of his in-house career that ‘a legal function is a strategic asset for a company’.
Remi Leonforte’s academic history includes both finance and law which is reflected in roles in banking and financial services prior to joining PPR (now Kering), the French holding company for multiple luxury goods. He states that when he left banking he was ‘worried about jumping into a new position in-house, ending up in a routine, but now I never get bored, you have to change and be flexible in this role’. First as corporate legal counsel at Kering, Leonforte handled the stock market and securities for the listed companies and French subsidiaries. Two years later he started managing the disposal operations and the initial public offering (IPO) of the main subsidiary. Sitting as the secretary of the board after an integration encouraged restructuring of the group, Leonforte was tasked with European corporate matters in order to solidify ties with colleagues in other countries. Meticulous knowledge of the group’s European activities led to his promotion to act as the general counsel for Kering Italy and Luxury Goods International. Changes underway, Leonforte is aiming to bridge the gap between the legal team, the managers of production sites and logistics platforms while continuing to provide a pillar of support to the non-Italian brands in Italy. Assisting Kering in both the rebrand and internal restructuring, Leonforte utilises financial and legal tools to direct the company and combine corporate and legal concerns.
From 1977 to 1986 Karen Linehan served on the congressional staff for the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. She then moved to work as an associate at a firm in New York until 1991, after which she joined Sanofi as assistant general counsel in the US. Linehan was called upon to handle international matters in Paris in 1996 and has remained in France ever since, supporting the multinational pharamceutical company. Acting as the executive vice president of legal affairs and general counsel since 2007, Linehan oversees legal in the over 100 countries that Sanofi operates in. When asked what she enjoys most about her role she points to ‘managing an engaged and global team’. Running the department in three groups (legal, intellectual property and compliance), Linehan recently introduced a new position in the legal chain with the role of solely handing transversal projects of a non-legal nature. These include IT tools training and budgeting, amongst others, needed to increase efficiency in legal and to accommodate the growth of the company, including the increased work done in-house. Linehan displays quick reactions to constantly adapting the legal department. With a legal career of over 25 years, sources praise Linehan for her successes in numerous outcomes of patent litigations, arbitration and mergers and acquisitions.
Frédéric Lorin, previously a financial lawyer at Crédit Agricole, is now financial lawyer – EMEA equity capital markets at BNP Paribas, the French multinational bank and financial services company. Since joining BNP Paribas, Lorin has improved the response time to customer requests providing outstanding service to those impacted by the volatility of the financial markets. ‘Today, the execution time of an operation has been divided by two or by three. The lawyer must analyse, very quickly, all the problems of a folder’. He is appreciated for his efforts in the privatisation of large companies such as France Telecom, EDF and Renault, in conjunction to his senior legal support in the restructuring of giant public companies such as Alstom and SCOR. Portraying strong leadership to his team of five in Paris and three in London, Lorin stalwartly believes in the principle that skills as a financial analyst enhance the role of an in-house lawyer operating in the financial industry. Directing his team to provide pragmatic legal services to his customers in laudable timely fashion, his legal knowledge has, ‘thanks to financial transactions, saved bankruptcy companies’. Something he found ‘very rewarding’.
Prior to joining PayPal, Florence Louis-Joseph worked with numerous companies in the telecommunications industry including Global Tele Systems and Global Crossing (now Level 3) in France, the Netherlands and the UK. Louis-Joseph also has experience with AOL and B3G, the latter company appointing her as a member on the board of directors during her time there. Upon joining online payment service provider PayPal as senior legal counsel for Southern and Eastern Europe (including Benelux) in 2008, Louis-Joseph was quickly promoted to head of legal for the whole of Western Europe in 2010. Capable of communication in four European languages, she now heads a team of five based across the region providing legal support to Paypal’s business endeavours. Covering such a large area with limited resources has required Louis-Joseph to build a flexible team focused on risk aversion. Since PayPal’s spinoff from eBay earlier in 2015, she has focused on internalising the e-commerce skills of the team while balancing the complete change in strategy. Louis-Joseph has had to build and implement new initiatives after becoming more involved with partners to manage banking regulations in relation to e-currencies. On top of being deeply involved with the board of directors and a part of the management team, Louis-Joseph has also ensured that the legal function is central and crucial to the company where ‘everything goes through the legal team’.
Alexander Lunshof is the chief legal officer of Essilor, a world leader in the production of ophthalmic lenses and optical equipment. The position of chief legal officer is not new to Lunshof, who had previous in experience in a similar role with Orange Business Services. He started his legal career at law firm Coudert Brothers working internationally at offices in Paris, New York and Beijing, his work while in China based primarily on the mobile phone industry. Using this experience Lunshof was able to move in-house nine years later, joining France Telecom Group (now Orange) initially as a general counsel for mergers and acquisitions and international affairs. Displaying his legal innovation in the field for six years, he was promoted to vice president, legal and regulatory after spending a year in the group’s UK offices, where he became known for his work on ethical business. In 2010, still at Orange, Lunshof moved back to Paris with Orange Business Services as vice president and general counsel, where his legal experiences were crucial in overcoming claims against the group for the abuse of dominant market position. His switch of industries came in 2014 when he moved to Essilor to take on a new challenge.
Having worked with global companies, such as Saint-Gobain and Volkswagen, for the majority of his career, Alexandre Marcotte is well suited to his current role of director legal for AkzoNobel’s decorative paint branch. Here he manages globally renowned brands such as Dulux, Sikkens and Hammerite. Over his career Marcotte has had a number of highlights, perhaps his most inventive implementation so far is the ‘set-up and the roll-out of a competition law face-to-face program, tailor-made for different businesses and targets (employees working for sales, marketing, procurement and market intelligence departments)’. He is furthermore credited for his handling of the recall of a colossal number of products, meeting the high expectations of senior management while at the same time retaining their position on the market. In this situation he played a key role in identifying risks and reviewing agreements with a creative mind-set in order to avoid damage pay-outs, all managed in a multi-jurisdictional environment. Marcotte is similarly commended on his redefinition of legal responsibilities amongst his legal team at AkzoNobel in order to adhere to the global nature of company. In conjunction, he has also introduced increased communication with stakeholders and implemented an e-billing tool that provides a clear view of external legal spend. He places great importance on regular communication to corporate management in order to be successful in-house: ‘their time being very limited, it needs to be done in a straightforward way, highlighting risks and opportunities without entering into details. To be able to do so, it is important to understand the business, including of course the vision, challenges and strategy’.
‘From my perspective what is significant in a post is the person who manages the post not the post itself. What I want to explain is that the motivation and the passion in the post can make all the changes needed’. Since 2011 Patrizia Marraghini has been using her legal and managerial expertise to shape the legal department of Keolis, one of the largest French private sector transport groups. Having joined when there were only two people in the department, Marraghini used her role to increase the significance of legal within the company while rising through the ranks of the industrials firm. Her efforts have resulted in Keolis becoming well known in the PPP field as well as attracting new markets for the company to expand into. Her input has ensured contracts have been negotiated at new heights, with agreements prolonged for 10 years instead of the previous five or six years and in some cases with Keolis benefitting from increased voting rights. Keolis constantly benefits from the work and effort that Marraghini puts in, such as the recent consolidation successes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Having started with an atypical background Marraghini now displays versatility not only in her profession but also in the number of languages and the number of jurisdictions that she can culturally navigate. Her previous work experience is in large dedicated to the environmental field through companies such as EDF, Saur and Veolia, combined with experiences in working in external practices. Patrizia Marraghini could not be more suited to her legal role in Keolis and as a member of the international committee, international reorganisation strategy and the steering group.
Sabine Martinon has been a part of the Accor Hotels Group since 2006, with her initial role providing legal support to the marketing and distribution departments as well as real estate and commercial leases. Currently as general counsel, she heads the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa division providing the group with the legal means to operate business units across the regions, while ensuring they comply with the methods and procedures of the group. Martinon is known for her strong ability to work across borders while maintaining strict contract management and litigation in varying cultures and laws. Her achievements involve numerous contentious victories involving Private International Law and the Rules of Arbitration of the ICC. Upon joining Accor, Martinon had already accumulated a wealth of international experience in hospitality having spent five years with Lenôtre before joining the Accor Group. At Lenôtre she is credited for brand portfolio management and her international and regional support to all the heads of departments while negotiating contracts and commercial leases.
Beginning her career in-house with Christian Dior, Christine Maury-Panis’ first in-house legal role consisted of supporting the high fashion brand on trademarks and compliance with competition law, at a time when selective distribution practises were being challenged. Moving to a different sector entirely with electronics manufacturer Thomson in 1986, Maury-Panis then focused on the legal initiatives for PayTV, an entirely new concept at the time. In this role Maury-Panis is highly reputed for legal assistance during the creation of a new licensing entity formed through the merger of Thomson’s technology with NDS, an affiliate of the Murdoch Group, to create VideoCrypt, the first analogue encryption technology which was used by BSkyB. Promoted to deputy general counsel at Thomson Multimedia, she worked on the company’s patent portfolio requiring her to agree licensing agreements in the Far East. In 1996 she joined French cable television Canal+ to negotiate its first supply of digital packets. Tasked with protecting its patents and licensing external sales of its technology, Maury-Panis was the first general counsel of the company’s subsidiary, Canal+ Technologies. Drawing on experiences at Thomson and Canal+ she now manages technological complexities for Viaccess-Orca, solutions and services provider for mobile digital rights management and pay television. Communicating legal in a vocabulary that her engineering colleagues understand, Maury-Panis created the legal and intellectual property department, developing a monetisation strategy for the latter. Reporting to the CEO, she calculates the value they add in lawsuit prevention with a lack of lawsuits being filed against the company since her arrival. Despite these successes, she is perhaps best known for her work on security matters and fighting piracy in the industry by raising awareness; Maury-Panis acts as the vice chair of Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA). Due to her sterling work, she has achieved successful collaboration with competitors in maintaining dialogue with EU institutions to promote effective legislation. Her direct involvement with Interpol on audio-visual piracy, has changed the status quo of how technology companies manage security issues in the EU and has ensured that Viaccess-Orca is recognised for its lobbying. Maury-Panis also acts as an expert for the Office for Harmonisation of Internal Markets (OHIM). Growing in experience and responsibility, Maury-Panis was given responsibility for security, managing an additional team located in France and Israel, in early 2016.
Atos is an international information technology company working with clients across a wide variety of market sectors. The challenges for the legal team run deeply through the company’s history, with several acquisitions meaning a constant influx of new team members. Alexandre Menais joined in 2011 as group general counsel, the same year in which Atos Origin and Siemens IT Solutions and Services (SIS) merged. More than 100 lawyers and contract managers joined the Atos team while new countries were added to the operations. Menais was quick to integrate the teams while ‘keeping the best of each culture to become “best in class”’. Within the first 90 days Menais proceeded with a bottom-up approach asking the team to voice their expectations, ideas and questions about the newly formed Legal Compliance and Contract Management Department (LCM Department). Ingeniously, Menais used the redesign of the LCM Department as a means to bring everyone together around one common project. ‘The LCM Department has to become a global team, for a global organisation to boost the quality and standing of legal services with Atos’. As a result the three year Transformation Programme was created incorporating six work streams including KPI’s, policies and workflows to be developed. Creating an environment of 360 degree management, Menais put in place the Legal Executive Leadership Team (LELT) composed of the main legal directors of the group, which pulls away from the previous approach of having all responsibilities solely held by the group general counsel. An advocate of technology, he ensured the successful addition of LawNet, an internal social network (ZEN) and a knowledge management platform (SharePoint). This has paved the way for a Zero Email Program, where lawyers can look up team members based on expertise while also following up on past discussions surrounding a client or case. LawNet on the other hand has provided a document storage hub where remarks, amendments and feedback can be made through the software. Creating cross-culture camaraderie and a single voice of legal support, Menais was promoted to executive vice president in 2014 and is also the vice president of Cercle Montesquieu. He is the co-founder and director of a leading IT website and an academic through his role as a guest lecturer at EDHEC Business School and as a member of the Advisory Board of LegalEdhec.
Fostering communication between the different services of the Vivendi group, Laetitia Ménasé has put in place a truly effective legal team allowing ‘them to be less isolated in their work and to enjoy enriching the expertise of other departments while refining their analysis and insight to their thoughts’. In her four years with the French multinational mass media company, Ménasé has made her mark on the strategic development of the company through her participation, directly and indirectly, in many development projects. Her influence is demonstrated daily when integrating acquired businesses and knowledge sharing platforms to speed up amalgamation as well as ensuring that the department is at the forefront of new media and mediums of customer information consumption. Ménasé has a strong hold on the various aspects of group activities allowing her to produce helpful insights while being able to be more protective for the company from business and legal points of view. One notable highlight during Ménasé’s career came in her role during the acquisition of EMI’s music arm (a multinational music recording and publishing company with high profile music artists) by Universal Music, which is part of the Vivendi group. She had to negotiate country by country, artist by artist, the agreements necessary to finally obtain the green light from the Commission on the acquisition and thus enabling the group to benefit from the management of entire catalogues of an assortment of high quality artists ranging from The Beatles to Katy Perry.
Isabelle Misakoglu joined Senoble in 1997 as the first in-house lawyer the company employed since its inception in 1921. Senoble is one of Europe’s largest fresh dairy producers with a turnover of $1.2bn. Having occupied various roles providing legal support to the company, perhaps her most important task amounted to the creation of Senoble’s internal legal department. Misakoglu has developed, over 18 varied associations with the company, her role as director group legal and as of 2012 the responsibility for human resources. One of her biggest achievements has been ensuring the legal input she provides to the business is understood and that her department is regarded in the spectrum of structural issues for the development of the group. With specialities in corporate, commercial and employment law, Misakoglu has implemented several internal procedures and charters to help strategically steer the company. Misakoglu is able to navigate through the constant reforms the market imposes on Senoble, handling over 3800 employees in nine companies including seven production sites. In addition to these sites, which operate in three industries (dairy, transport and refrigeration), Misakoglu’s team oversee the five subsidiaries of production and marketing within Europe. She ensures Senoble’s operational functions remain informed with the same level of knowledge as their outside contacts and in doing so, it is clear that Misakoglu has created an enduring and effective legal presence through all business lines of the traditional company.
Emilie Montané has an impressive diversity of past experiences, having begun her career in the automobile industry dealing with intellectual property matters followed by multiple roles with Universal Studios Channels where her final position was as head of legal and HR. Her role with media-giants did not end there, she progressed to legal director of NBC Universal Global Networks France where she mediated intellectual property, lobbying, PR and relations with institutional bodies and data privacy authorities in France. These past experiences have stood Montané in good stead for her work at the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT); however instead of buying the rights she is now on the other side selling them to roughly 200 million broadcasters worldwide. Leading a five-strong legal team, Montané juggles hospitality tenders, image and author rights and the brand trademark, all while communicating with journalists and negotiating with betting institutions. While at the FFT she has been praised for consolidating the department by extending its role in the strategic commercial activities of the company: ‘Compared to an external lawyer, we have a real perspective on strategy and we don’t make decisions the same way. Having in-house personnel even for small companies is advised and should not be seen as a cost’. Working with the senior commercial team they have successfully lobbied to change the ticketing environment that was drastically plagued by the black market, a strategy that is still on-going. Montané is in a position to create change for the better, be it tax or sporting regulations or the infrastructure in which events take place. At the end of 2015 Montané has shifted focus to define the business strategies and dedicate her expertise to the selling of media rights: ‘I think the way I see my role within the company is to be in the strategy helping to find solutions instead of saying this is the law, we can’t do it’.
Groupe Duval is a family-owned company that holds a number of entities across many sectors, some of which are listed on the French Stock Exchange and others that are private. Didier Moutard general counsel at Groupe Duval has extensive experience in real estate, corporate and finance law. Initially working as a lawyer at Clifford Chance, Moutard moved in-house after 15 years with the firm to join Stam Europe as general counsel. Moutard is recognised for his involvement in the implementation of several investment funds in a number of European jurisdictions and for his structuring and follow up of investments in real estate across Europe, Africa and Asia. Now handling over six hundred companies for Groupe Duval, he reshuffled the legal department to better handle external services and put in place essential instruments, such as approval process procedures, to increase the efficiency of legal advice across the board. Moutard is one of the few individuals who finds working in-house ‘comfortable’. In explanation he says that ‘you have immediate contact with those you work with – you have access to a full picture of what is happening – it’s all real time communication’. Moutard notes that this is the biggest difference between in-house and private practice lawyers, as there is a greater sense of responsibility in an in-house role due to the lack of filters that are prominent when working with a law firm. As a true “people person” Moutard emphasises his enjoyment of management: ‘I truly enjoy this. If I had a 10 times bigger legal service I would love it. I have the chance to work with so many personalities that are gentle and hardworking’. He is also the founder and chairman of Juridim, an association for real estate general counsel.
With a PhD in international law at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Asia and a lecturer in Paris and Thailand between 1993 and 1998, Anne-Laure Nguyen-Fitzgerald left her academic life behind to join the Paris law firm Kimbrough et Associés in 2003. She was counsel to foreign clients, particularly from the US and held responsibility over national and EU antitrust issues including multinational antitrust reviews in relation to M&A. Joining Baker & McKenzie in Vietnam in 2005, she acted as counsel to foreign investors and administrator of WTO practises. Her time at the prestigious law firm is notable for her counselling of the Vietnamese government on a range of issues from accession to a US aid project to drafting and implementing new domestic laws in compliance with WTO agreements. Following the financial crisis’ effect in freezing client projects, Nguyen-Fitzgerald moved in-house in 2009. Joining SNA Europe, the European manufacturer of advanced hand tools, her first tasks were to align SNA Europe’s operations with its American parent company and rationalise its legal costs. Additionally, Nguyen-Fitzgerald assisted SNA on reviewing and rationalising its operations in emerging countries, aligning those with American compliance requirements and leading a large environmental industrial arbitration that she successfully managed to settle out of court; all achieved as the solitary in-house counsel. Acting as an intermediary between law firms and the business, Nguyen-Fitzgerald has built strong relationships to quickly facilitate deals. As a testament to her work, she is now involved at the early stages of project development helping align projects and save on costs. She also works with project managers at ground level cultivating better contracts whilst juggling a position as a member of the executive committee. She says ‘the best lawyers are passionate about their business. Working on the ground level gaining the respect and trust of colleagues as well as building your own skills in delivering advice tailored to the business’.
Sébastien Niogret joined Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, as a trainee in 2002. After only a few months the then group general counsel offered him the opportunity to join the team as junior legal counsel. Over the next seven and half years Niogret took on several positions in the corporate legal department, until in 2009 when he was promoted to chief legal counsel France with the aim to effectively bring legal support to French business activities. Niogret overcame internal challenges by ensuring the business and management understood the importance of legal support in day to day business, simultaneously gaining their confidence. ‘Today we are recognised as a competent and reliable function and we are fully integrated into the business decision making process of the company’. Explaining his approach, Niogret adds that ‘it is essential to build a relationship based on trust and communication, but that is not only valid for the top management. It is key to build the same relationship at every stage of the company. This is key for an efficient and well integrated legal function’. In keeping with this pragmatic, flexible and responsive approach, Niogret helps guide the strategic direction of the company striving to identify, monitor and minimise legal risks in the various areas in which the company pervades. ‘Our major value is in risk anticipation and reduction’, he says. Niogret is also relishing the opportunity to implement upcoming French contract law changes set to create uncertainty in their contractual relationship until a stable new jurisprudence is achieved.
Guillaume Nonain’s career highlight came during the win of an antitrust claim presented against a major competitor; the victory allowed an entire business line to carry on functioning and flourish. He is currently the vice president, legal at Brink’s, a premier provider of security solutions and logistics, where the French arm of the business was quoted as the number one profit generator in 2014. In addition to managing general in-house activities, Nonain serves as chairman of the company’s European Works Council and was appointed data protection officer for all the French legal entities of the group. Nonain has been the first in-house lawyer to enter the corporate executive committee within his latest two companies, including Brink’s, underlining his expert understanding of both commercial and legal. Previously, Nonain was the legal director of Southern Europe at Goodyear Dunlop Tires France where he helped strengthen contractual agreements and protected the assets of the group. He also worked at Valeo Services from 2005 to 2006 as legal director after stints with private practice law firms. In addition to his in-house role, Nonain has worked on numerous publications be it current trends or predicting the future role of an in-house lawyer, he also acts as an encouraging mentor figure to many. Nonain is actively involved in a number of professional associations, including Cercle Montesquieu, the French Association of in-house lawyers, where he is vice president and acting secretary general.
Francois-Xavier Olivieri has been part of France’s gas sector since 1998 when he joined the Gaz de France Group (GDF) (which was later turned into GDF SUEZ and now Engie), where he embellished the initial contractual framework for Third Party Access which was further translated into operational agreements and promoted by the European Commission. His achievements are vested with the boom in the gas industry, where in 2002 he is recognised for the implementation of the legal framework for merchant wholesale activities on the open market. This then lead to his role as head of legal for Gaselys, Société Générale and GDF SUEZ’s commodities trading house, as a result of a merger between all trading and portfolio management activities of the group, he ran as general counsel. He took his current role in 2012 where he was entrusted with asset optimisation, trading activities and long term energy procurement. With 40 employees reporting into him, Olivieri has merged teams from two different mindsets and aligned them to the strategic ambitions of the energy management and trading business unit. The regulation and compliance teams now cover the ‘the front to end process of energy wholesale market regulations’. Expertise founded in the growth of the gas and energy sector allow Olivieri to present strong lobbying capacities and real-time regulatory knowledge of the sector. Olivieri plays an active role in the evolution of the energy industry, steering hand-in-hand the evolution of Engie’s legal function and consequently their strategic direction.
The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) represents 230 authors’ societies in 120 countries. The legal function has switched focus from internal matters to dealing with worldwide projects in a niche industry that goes beyond traditional corporate work. The individual behind this shift is Gadi Oron, director general since 2014 and with CISAC since 2012. Since his appointment Oron has directed the team to extend their legal practice to manage international law matters with United Nations institutions such as World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and European Union bodies such as the European Commission and Parliament. He helps members across the word with copyright lobbying initiatives, government relations and universal legal matters such as competition, contract and litigation law, to name a few. ‘The key challenge was to significantly expand the areas of work and expertise of the legal department while maintaining the same budget and resources’, and he has been efficacious in doing so. Oron is an expert in copyright law and has been with the creative industry for over 16 years, with a strong and lasting passion to promote the interest of authors worldwide. Amongst his many achievements are his lobbying on a new international copyright treaty for visual artists with the WIPO and the launch of an appeal at the Supreme Court of India on copyright protection. Most of all Oron has earned worldwide recognition for his ability to bring together and deal with high-level government officials in different countries while bridging the gap between them and different sectoral stakeholders. ‘This is often challenging given the different legal systems involved, but also very rewarding as it forces me to be on top of what’s happening in the copyright field across the world’. Oron brings reality to CISAC’s commitment to protect the authors of both the developed and developing world while he takes it a step further and brings all entities involved under a single umbrella of communication.
Jérôme Perlemuter joined the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) 11 years ago, and ‘always compares life at the French league to the TV show 24, every day is a new day full of challenges’. After moving in-house to join the LFP, Perlemuter quickly adjusted to the complexities of media rights, dealing with sensitive and strategic aspects on behalf of the league, a factor that ‘football mostly lives on’. Perlemuter also takes part in the association of football leagues around Europe known as the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), where a collective effort is made to direct ‘the voice of the leagues to the European and political institutions’. This aspect goes hand-in-hand with his lobbying at a national level: ‘The rationale of lobbying is “when you are not happy with a law, you need to change it”. My view is that this is the big difference from working in a firm to being a GC. At a firm, you take the law as it is and try to use it to the best you can. When you are with a company and you are not happy with the law you have the option to try to change it for the better’. One of his major collective lobbying achievements with other stakeholders would be the change in the French law on betting, an achievement that sports organisations abroad are now looking to implement. Perlemuter is a master at using the law to move the commercial dealings of the LFP forward and acknowledges that ‘law is about being creative’. Perlemuter’s breadth of knowledge and understanding of his industry led to him being elected as a practicing judge before the Paris Commercial Court in 2014, whereby judges are elected from within the in-house business industry.
The departments of legal and compliance of BNP Paribas Personal Finance, a leader in France and Europe for personal loans via its activities in consumer credit and mortgage lending, are vertically integrated in France and internationally. They are run by 120 lawyers and 190 compliance officers; 55 of which report directly into Isabelle Perret-Noto as head of legal and compliance. Perret-Noto performs her legal activities through a new organisational model, which introduces a hierarchical link between the heads of legal of each local BNP Paribas Personal Finance's subsidiary and the Central Legal department of the group. Amongst numerous accomplishments in joint ventures, partnership development and acquisitions, Perret-Noto represents legal and compliance on the executive committee of BNP Paribas Personal Finance. Here she has ensured that both the committee and the legal department are aware that ‘each project, each new product, new activity and new development opportunity cannot see the light of day in our regulated sector without the essential contribution of lawyers’.
Nicolas Petrovic spent eight years at top business law firm August et Debouzy, working in their regulatory, litigation, contract IT and technology departments before moving in-house in 2007. Petrovic joined multinational management, consulting and technology services company Accenture in 2007 where he gradually extended his role to lead corporate contracting in France and some matrix responsibility for legal support to business units in Benelux. Petrovic joined Sodexo in November 2014, as general counsel France for the on-site business which accounts for 85% of Sodexo’s revenue. He currently heads a team of 14 attorneys and four paralegals, but demonstrating the confidence that the Sodexo management has in him, he has taken responsibility over the Benelux legal team and serves as the lead counsel for the global Sodexo business segment "Sports & Leisure". An expert manager with skills in contract, IT, intellectual property and privacy, Petrovic demonstrated his department’s ability to contribute to company strategy in different fields when he positioned his department with innovation and digital champions, stating ‘legal was nowhere near these areas when I joined’. Explaining the changes, Petrovic affirms that he has ‘re-aligned my team to reflect the change in Sodexo which will operate in business units globally rather than at a country level’. When successfully navigating through the market shifts that impact the company, Petrovic explains how ‘you need to make sure your team is able to understand the shift of strategy and consequences on our day to day business and therefore the necessity to, non-stop, develop our skills’.
‘One of my ambitions as a young lawyer was to show that law and business functions are able to be experienced together’, an ambition that Edouard Picant has achieved by combining his legal experience with the ‘good tips’ received during his Executive MBA at the University of Pittsburgh. Picant began his career long dedication to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in 1998 with French multinational Sanofi in Hong Kong, where he was admired for his renegotiation of Pan-Asian contracts and focus on customer operations. Picant has since built his profile even further in the industry and is regarded as a leading entrepreneurial lawyer with an extensive understanding of the sector. Having spent time as a lawyer at firms between 1998 and 2002, Picant moved back in-house in 2003 joining French special chemicals manufacturer Rhodia (now a Solvay subsidiary). In this role Picant has been acknowledged for his assistance and robust legal contending abilities when faced with shareholder disputes covered under the scrutinising eye of the media. Moreover, Picant provided the legal assistance needed during the refinancing of Rhodia. He advised the group on contracts relating to Credit Emission Rights as well as various investments, mergers and acquisitions and business divestitures. Entrusted as a legal asset, Picant was deployed to Brazil in 2006 to support Rhodia’s business units in Latin America. Back in France in 2010, Picant continued his role heading Rhodia’s polyamide activities. Managing a small team of lawyers, Picant is applauded for his legal guidance during a major international litigation (including among others, three ICC arbitration proceedings), which successfully reached a settlement that included one of the largest implementations of eDiscovery of intellectual property in Europe. Impressing time and again Picant has also been known for his work on joint-venture agreements leading to successful collaborations for Solvay. In 2015, Picant joined the newly formed global business unit, Special Chem, which has annual sales of over €900m and up to 3,000 employees, in order to set up the necessary legal framework and assistance for ensuring sustainable growth. In his in-house role, Picant displays a deep understanding of legal and business allowing him to be innovative, successfully overcoming market challenges.
The French Supreme Court granted a landmark decision on product liability and casual link due to the collective effort of a team managed by Laurent Pitet, now general counsel and compliance officer at Bayer HealthCare in France. The decision, as well as the decision of the completion authorities, was not only a landmark for the sector but also a personal career highlight for Pitet. Overcoming the challenges of simultaneous management of a high number of legal cases, involving both civil and penal aspects, is what brings out Pitet’s best qualities as an in-house lawyer. He plays an active role in the legal department with 11 employees reporting directly into him in a direct fashion. He has been successful in consolidating the legal expertise of those team members to effectively build protection for the activities and products of the pharmaceutical company. With a vast legal knowledge of the sector, having spent over 25 years in the industry, where he plays a signifincant role, Pitet combines strategic advice and commercial protection with a clear view of issues, regulations and the consequences of global endeavours. Pitet has a somewhat prosaic approach to the sector and his role within it: ‘People, passion, performance and patience. Working in the healthcare sector is neither a hazard nor is it only a job’.
In a previous role in the media and entertainment industry, Lise Pons created the legal function for UGC, one of the largest cinema operators in Europe. Leaving behind a fully functional legal department she changed sectors to the automotive industry to join Speedy France in 2012. Given her previous experience at UGC, she was tasked with creating a legal function for Speedy France with a €170m turnover and an estimated 1,600 employees. In conjunction with this vast task Pons was asked to manage the real estate arm of the company to ensure the supervision of the property management system monitoring up to 310 commercial leases. In less than two years of implementing the legal department Pons made a significant reduction in external legal spend, reaching an estimated €350,000 while saving the company money on customer services and disputes through newly proposed procedures. Structuring the legal department so that only one employee reports into her and through the use of multiple tools, Pons is able to dedicate her time equally to the real estate function as well. One of her many career highpoints is the realisation of outsourcing 10 assets based in France, Belgium and Spain with a high monetary value and without the assistance of external counsel. She is also praised for the legal handling of sales of subsidiaries in three European jurisdictions while corresponding with various law firms. Pons is acknowledged for her delivery of successful legal functions to multiple sectors, while displaying the importance of a well-functioning in-house department to the companies she has worked with.
Valentine Poylo previously worked with the French Navy in the Fleet Support Service, being responsible for the maintenance of ships for the Ministry of Defence. She is acknowledged for her assistance during the change in Directorate of Naval Construction (DNC) and the constitution of the new DNC Company. Poylo then followed through her services for DNC through the procurement of fleet support services and litigation in conjunction with building bridges with the legal entities in the Ministry of Defence. Poylo overcame the difficulties in the creation of DNC caused by a diversity of legal issues ranging from policy and transactions through to insurance and internal transformation of public procurement contracts. She joined the infrastructure legal department of SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway company, in 2007 where she gradually specialised in projects of research and innovation using her experiences in intellectual property law. In her current role Poylo brings clarification to legal, over time creating an intricate relationship between her department and internal clientele which previously was more limited. She is also a pillar of support for the relationship between SNCF and the RFF (Réseau Ferré de France, French Rail Network) since the merger in mid-2015. SNCF has six specialised legal departments, Poylo takes the intellectual property department to pioneering new heights admired both internally by clients and colleagues and externally by those who work in collaboration with her.
After working as a private practice lawyer in the late 1990s Philippe Prouvost moved in-house to join AXA, the French multinational insurance firm, in 1999. As corporate legal counsel there, Prouvost worked on matters relating to finance and M&A until 2002 when he left to join Pernod Ricard as senior legal counsel. Prouvost quickly rose through the ranks at the world leading wines and spirits company, being appointed deputy senior executive director of corporate affairs shortly after joining. He has built two legal departments from a team of just two to over 150, lawyers and paralegals combined. A team of 10 lawyers directly report into him and he utilises a further 100 internal lawyers to work on specific projects or transactions. Prouvost places lawyers in the various divisions in Pernod Ricard’s affiliates to build up their expertise to the level of a general counsel. In 2012, Prouvost was appointed as secretary to the board of directors and has a direct working relationship with the CEO and all top executives in the company. During his time in the role he has worked on some of the most important acquisitions of the company such as the purchase of Allied Domecq for over $6bn and the vodka company Absolut from the Swedish government in 2007. Prouvost has also worked on the implementation of Seagram Spirits & Wine after the company contributed $3.15bn to its acquisition in 2001.
The legal department of the renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin is a surprisingly new entity considering the world-wide fame of the company’s brand. The department was created in 2009 when Xavier Ragot was appointed legal manager, employing four individuals working on intellectual property and digital protection and three individuals on corporate and business affairs. Four years ago he was promoted to the position of group general counsel. Ragot has played a fundamental role in creating and implementing several programs for protection and defence of key intellectual property belonging to the designer. The seemingly never-ending legal war for the “red sole” trademark began in 2012 with a win in the USA, a success intertwined with the efforts of Ragot. Many praise this accomplishment highly as it was a non-traditional trademark and in countries with no precedent; indeed up until Ragot’s win it was viewed as an impossible and far-fetched case. A loyal protector of the red sole, Ragot created the Stopfake programme and website to help curb the retail of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes. The well-known designer has recently ventured into beauty products with the launch of nail and lip colours, Ragot has legally facilitated this new undertaking while setting up retail subsidiaries in new territories. As a leader of small legal team managing the activities of a company that defines luxury goods, Ragot tells us that he most enjoys his ‘involvement in the business development and advising a very creative designer on legal topics’.
Most of Franck Raimbault’s legal career has been dedicated to Air France, the French flag carrier airline. He joined the company headquarters in 1995 after his role as a researcher at the Université Panthéon Assas. In his first role he acted as an in-house lawyer for labour law, in charge of litigation on an individual and collective basis for all categories of staff. Soon after, in 1999, Raimbault became vice president of HR legal managing a team of four in-house lawyers. During a structural shift in 2007, he became the senior vice president for all HR legal matters, and currently leads a 13-strong team with an external budget of €2m. Raimbault’s successfully navigated challenges have included the 2014 pilot strike and the 2008 economic crisis that brought with it a change in the airline’s business model. Both matters were handled through creative solutions, lobbying where necessary and with outstanding leadership as he directed his team to ‘be more business oriented, more proactive and more solution finding than problem finding’. Having an excellent, close-knit relationship with the CEO and chairman of the board, Raimbault is able to play an instrumental role alongside the company during strategic planning. He has been part of some integral plans for the company, including the Air France Transform 2015 plan to reorganise the company structure and Perform 2020 which aspires to target 30% of labour productivity growth.
Sandrine Rambaud provides the legal assistance needed for IMS Health to provide information, services, solutions and technology to improve the performance of companies operating in the health care market. Having joined the company in 2014, Rambaud brought with her 15 years of experience gained in IT law with prominent international firms including DLA Piper and Bird & Bird. Upon joining she was thrown into the deep end with the company’s large scale acquisition of Cegedim, a legal task carried out ‘with great success’ according to nominators. Through the efforts of Rambaud, the company was able to obtain Cegedim‘s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and their Strategic Data Business for €396m. This had a rolling impact allowing for calculated growth of IMS Health coupled with a doubling of turnover. Sources compliment Rambaud for her ‘tenacity, competency and reactivity’ which are all ‘very appreciated by all the lawyers working with her, she also knows how to stay kind and gentle in any circumstances with her team’. Monitoring tools put in place by Rambaud have created visibility for the commercial branch of the company and is slowly changing the strategic planning process. A quick adjustment into her new role Rambaud elaborates that: ‘my biggest challenge is to manage an increasing number of demands with limited resources. In the near future major changes in regulations, especially with regard to personal data, will be a new challenge for the legal department and for the company’. Her vast knowledge of technologies and the legal implications surrounding them is well-aligned to suit IMS Health’s aspirations to evolve to meet the future needs of the health care industry.
Patrick Remot is the legal director and chief compliance officer at Clear Channel France, the mass media organisation and recently a subsidiary of iHeartMedia. He started his career at a law firm in 1995 and moved in-house with Bouygues Telecom in 1999, taking up his current role 2013. On joining the company Remot had a quick and efficient impact, developing legally swift termination and assignment of major suppliers, application of new labour standards and a number of victories in competition cases including advance preparation in anticipation of mergers between competing operators. Remot allows smooth sailing of the commercial activities based on his ability to understand the business and be legally prepared early on in any commercial change. He is credited for building. Clear Channel’s legal department in an unknown environment of sectors and enterprises, while introducing internal legal communication through newsletters and satisfaction surveys, transmission of know-how and revision of litigation and legal policy for the group. ‘The fact that the legal department is solicited more often and far upstream in projects shows that the company has acquired the legal reflex and indicates business confidence in the legal department’. Remot depicts the two main qualities needed to direct a legal department: intense attention to operational constraints and business issues; and rigor, foresight and expertise in a range of legal areas.
Mark Rollinger joined PSA Peugeot Citroën (now Groupe PSA) in 2013, taking charge of a legal department that was known for its small size relative to both the company’s market capitalisation and the complexity of its operations. The rebranding efforts of Groupe PSA have been time-consuming and Rollinger is commended for maintaining a steady ship during this period while ensuring that all legal and commercial obstacles to implementing the new identity are overcome. Rollinger began his legal career with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton before moving in-house with Rhodia, having also held positions at Lafarge and Sodexo. His main contribution to Groupe PSA has been ensuring that each member of the team is able to cut across legal and commercial boundaries and operate with a minimum of oversight.
Jérémy Rousseau joined the litigation department of TF1, a private French television channel, in 2001 where he dealt with the contentious press, criminal offences and the litigation for the business’ diversification structures. In 2005 he gained responsibility for the e-commerce and distance selling subsidiary where he legally assisted its development. In 2010 his remit was expanded to monitor the TF1 structure including music, show business and licensing activities. In 2012 Rousseau was appointed assistant legal director to cover the TFI video subsidiary which acquires the rights to all video networks and in 2016 his legal responsibility was extended to cinema activities. In his current role he is praised both internally and externally, for his negotiation of the Music City tender in the consortium with Bouygues and Sodexo for the PPP for the musical city of Seguin Island in Boulogne Billancourt. Rousseau has a strong understanding of the group and its activities due to his past experiences under different roles with the company, he has used this knowledge to increase value of the legal service while improving operational interactions and risk mitigation procedures. Thanks to the efforts of Rousseau, TF1 now benefits from a better and more fruitful negotiation processes combined with goal achieving legal support bestowed on the increased collective and creative intelligence reform implemented by him.
In 1998 Isabelle Roux-Chenu joined Capgemini, the management consultancy with expertise in technology and outsourcing, when there was no serving in-house legal support. One of her first improvements was to start initial contract management for her internal clients within Capgemini; success and outside recognition has seen Roux-Chenu expand this practice to external clients globally. Serving as the group general counsel of Capgemini for over 18 years, with 195 legal and 80 non-legal staff, Roux-Chenu has created a worldwide recognised team that has won many awards in recognition of their achievements. Her negotiation capabilities are exceptional and have provided her with some of her biggest achievements in large scale acquisitions. Over the course of her time with Capgemini Roux-Chenu has moved the legal department from a cost-center to a profit-center, predominantly through contract initiatives internally (the Contract Support Service) and externally (the Contract Compliance and Optimisation programme). Both initiatives ‘foster the content of contracts to benefit both parties by bringing total understanding of the contracts being performed’. This refreshing approach to contracting has been a great achievement for both Roux-Chenu and Capgemini, bringing with it positive feedback and returns. Roux-Chenu is also the founder and group leader of the Women@Capgemini program and the co-chair of the CAC 40 Companies General Counsels Commission. During her time with the company, she has seen the growth of Capgemini increase from roughly 30 employees to an estimated 180,000, with an inevitable increase in the future. She is merited for her ability to rise to any challenge and find a solution for the business, resourcefully managed with a legal team that rarely changes in size despite the company’s growth. ‘It has been a long journey that I have done with a very competent team’.
Cécile Russeil first joined video game developer and publisher Ubisoft in 1990, as personal assistant to the CEO. Without a legal background or training she started working on all major business transactions, involved with the CEO, including acquisitions and contract negotiations. Over time Russeil officially took charge of business and legal affairs and now acts as chief legal officer, with continued partnership with the CEO. As a result of this partnership, Russeil created a department of 25 professionals based in Europe, North America and Singapore. Demonstrating her excellent operational skills, Russeil was able to lead over 40 transactions in 12 months leading up to October 2015. The transactions were completed in a number of countries, including Canada, Brazil, France and other European jurisdictions, Russeil noting that ‘a knowledge of all local laws is vital’. With self-taught working knowledge in contract, copyright, privacy and e-commerce laws, Russeil is closely involved with Ubisoft’s major developments, including having supported the Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1996 and managing all litigations worldwide. As CLO for the first games company in Europe and their ventures into music and mobile phone apps, Russeil has a clear focus on how to support Ubisoft as it grows in a fast moving and complex environment driven by technological innovation. She claims her goal is ‘to help [the company] develop. I have to understand its new business areas, which implies more compliance especially with privacy laws’.
As general counsel, Sophie Saden has responsibility for the legal aspects of fundraising at Astorg Partners, a private equity fund with offices in Paris, London and Luxembourg. Saden participates on acquisitions and divestitures, works on all regulatory aspects of the alternative investment fund managers (AIFM) company, and handles human resources issues while balancing the day-to-day legal activity of the fund. Considering the nature of the business, Saden is at the heart of regulatory change in the industry and steers Astorg through the frequent changes in legal landscape. Overcoming the challenges of change and initial development she created the AIFM management company in Luxembourg in an expedited time period. Being part of the legal committee of the AFIC (Association of French Investors) over a number of years has been a boon for Saden, allowing her to participate in the development of regulations and comment on their impact on the industry. It has also allowed her to be ahead of the game, this in turn has assisted her when advising Astorg on developments. ‘Changes in regulations over the last 10 years have been very significant. It is particularly difficult to keep current’. With a strong relationship with the management, Saden is called into discussions early on during new projects and is in charge of dealing with investors who prefer auditing before investing. ‘I consider myself lucky to participate in the development and evolution of the company I work for. This is often a challenge and workload is growing every year, but it is infinitely rewarding’.
Joëlle Simon is the first non-American to receive the US Chamber of Commerce award, presented to her at the 16th Annual Legal Reform Summit for her dedication to the protection of business law in the French civil justice system. During her years with MEDEF, an organisation protecting the activities of French enterprises, she has assisted in the opposition of 10 official reports, 23 bills and for 30 years helped postpone the introduction of class actions (a major feature of the US litigation system) into French and European law. Simon joined in 1983 as the deputy to the general economic affairs manager. She was awarded the position of director of legal affairs in 1991 when the department was limited in its scope of intervention. Having carved her presence in the classical role of a lobbyist on European and national proposals for business law, Simon is now directing improvement on a legislative and regulatory level for businesses. The most notable evolution of business law for Simon, her team and for MEDEF, is the simplified joint stock exchange invented in 1990, enacted in 1994 and now the most popular form of businesses in France, namely la société par action simplifiée (SAS). Simon led her department to support MEDEF during their efforts to decriminalise company law by replacing criminal sanctions with civil ones and during efforts to promote good corporate governance. In conjunction with other business associations they have elaborated the code of corporate governance for French listed companies which has celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Simon is held in high regard for her efforts to protect businesses and respected for her ability to influence policies and governance surrounding this topic.
With almost 30 years of experience under his belt, Adam Smith is one the most experienced GCs currently active in the French market. Smith joined multinational aerospace and defence corporation Safran in 2014 as group general counsel, where he states that ‘the first big challenge was not to “fix” something that wasn’t broken’. Instead, leading legal ‘to instil a culture of “working together”’ while developing a panel system of law firms to meet the target of 15% savings in recurrent legal spend. Working in private practice between 1988 and 1994, Smith has a deep rooted understanding of the internal workings of law firms and is therefore able to pick the right match of external experts to advise Safran. Completing an MBA in 1996, Smith moved in-house with investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, advising on corporate finance matters for blue-chip European food and retail clients. Smith began building his formidable reputation in the aerospace industry in 1998 relocating to Paris to join EADS (now Airbus Group), as vice president and head of mergers and acquisition legal affairs. Smith recalls a particular highlight during this time as ‘watching EADS, a tri-national conglomerate, become a normally-functioning company, now called the Airbus Group’. Smith had executive responsibility for the legal content of EADS’ strategic transactions, including the €3.25bn buy-out of BAE Systems’ stakes in Astrium and Airbus. In 2008 he was promoted to general counsel for Defence & Security in Munich (now Airbus Defence & Space). In 2010 however, Smith moved back to Paris with DCNS, specialised in naval defence and energy, as group general counsel and chief compliance officer. Here he is credited for the formation of a compliance function from scratch and the establishment of contract management as a function in its own right. Now at Safran, he states that the overall challenge still remains ‘working in a second language, when all the documents and discussions are in another language you have to be that little bit more awake’.
Bastien Soret has been leading the legal departments of international companies for over 16 years. Taking the reins at Elis, a leader in the rental of textiles and hygiene equipment, in 2007, Soret created four new departments in France covering the securities, business, real estate and public law. In 2014 he also added a business law department in Brazil to cover increasing activity in the country. Soret, gifted in legal logic, has a robust wealth of experience with over 50 merger and acquisition transactions under his belt since 2007. The transactions were facilitated by his cross-border team of over 20 employees in France and four in Brazil. The strategic direction of Elis has taken a legal-inclusive shift adapting to internal legal procedures innovatively crafted by Soret. Although he has had a number of career highlights, two achievements stand out as particularly noticeable: his commendable handling of the listing of Elis on the Paris Stock Exchange in 2015 with a capital increase of €850m, and the 2013 acquisition of a Brazilian company with a turnover of €90m. Just over the last year Soret has effectively carried out merger and acquisition transactions leading to the acquisition of 10 new operations across Europe, Brazil and Chile; the Chilean operation itself consisted of eight laundries and 1,000 employees. After the research phrase was completed, Soret moved to SOCOTEC as group general counsel.
‘In France in 1996; if someone said to me I would be general counsel of the entire group I would have said “impossible as I am not a French lawyer” and the company was a lot less international than it is today. I thought it was completely out of the realm of possibility’. George Stansfield joined AXA’s New York office in 1985 and has remained with the company ever since. Upon moving to AXA in France, Stansfield noticed the significant difference between the in-house legal role in the USA and Europe. He quickly moved to ensure that legal was well positioned in the whole company and began a period of internalisation. He says it was a challenge ‘getting the balance right in terms of French expertise needed and the international experience needed to suit the nature of the business. It was about changing the mindset of the lawyers to become international which was more of challenge’. Stansfield has also been the driver behind the change in the internal perception of the legal department. Previously viewed as ‘technicians that were not perceived as adding value and only called in at the end to resolve issues’, they are now an integral department vested in all aspects of the business and are widely respected in the insurance sector. Strategically, Stansfield has directed the department to assist with the recent big data revolution: ‘How we want to reposition our company over the next 20 years and data is a big part of that. These are the more strategic issues that come with the legal questions, a lot of creative thinking is needed. Being plugged in on the discussion on where the company is going over the next 20 years, instead of coming in at the end, is vital at this pivotal point of data revolution’. Stansfield, an in-house lawyer of incredible caliber and with deep experience of the corporate history of AXA Global, could not be better suited to navigate the company through the legal maze of the data revolution that is impacting every industry globally. In 2010, Stansfield continued to gain responsibilities when he became head of group human resources; when this is coupled with his role on the group executive committee it is easy to see how important Stansfield is to the strategic direction and success of the company. Although Stansfield could boast about his successes, he still possesses a natural humbleness that makes him an exceptional leader: ‘It is important to not let your ego take over, you need to build the team around you and you need to realise that you cannot do without them’. Grow and expose them to situations and experiences has always been his personal approach for the legal team.
Marilyne Sullet-Duverbecq spent time working at law firms in France, Monaco and Italy, prior to her in-house stint in 2000 where she launched the legal department for the Neurocom Group, an e-security software company operating in Europe and North America. In 2001 she joined the banking sector with the Natixis Group were she helped establish the legal and compliance departments of three subsidiaries in France and the UK. Here she also defined the international development strategy for asset management and she represented the bank as an expert nominated by the European Commission, assisting towards the move to a unified EU financial market. AlixPartners, a business advisory firm, hired Sullet-Duverbecq in 2009 where she was asked to put in place compliance procedures in EMEA while managing international negotiations in a high impact risk management environment. By the time that Sullet-Duverbecq came to the Primonial Group, reputed financial advisors, she had already acquired an abundance of laudable achievements that the group could benefit from. At Primonial she developed a legal function for the 21 trades of the group (managing 12 business lines and four marketing networks) and reduced the legal cost by three-fold while multiplying the number of files addressed by the legal department by more than five-fold. When the group experienced the loss of their biggest shareholder and CEO in 2013, Sullet-Duverbecq came to the rescue assisting in the recapitalisation process and in particular appreciated for her exertion on leveraged buyouts (LBO) that ensured continuity. In late 2015, Sullet-Duverbecq displayed, again, undisputable legal skills when two new investment funds joined the existing shareholders. One of the biggest challenges that she has overcome took place during her initial days with Primonial, she evidenced tainted activities of external consultants encouraging shareholders to replace their confidence into internal services. Sullet-Duverbecq is a true defender of the business in the legal sphere. Successfully rescuing the group from this challenge, she has, in her five years, diminished the group’s risk statistics by almost two-fold and has professionalised and modernised, through legal software, the internal communication.
Franck Tassan previously served as an in-house lawyer at PSA Peugeot Citroen, before moving to Carrefour in 1996 as a senior international lawyer. In 2000 he became the legal director of M&A and he was appointed three years later as the director of legal at Group Carrefour. Since 2009, he also oversees the risks and compliance department. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the French National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Arnold van Eeckhout joined Bouygues group in 1993 and was appointed to the position of general counsel and member of the general management committee in 1995. He has worked on many significant international projects and has played a vital role in facilitating the company’s growth within the telecoms industry. Among his many contributions to the company, van Eeckhout’s work in the field of competition law has been particularly impressive. In 2007 he successfully pursued an unlikely $140m damages claim against Tekelec in the US, an outcome that was doubted by many. In 2014 van Eeckhout worked closely with Bouygues’ senior management to support preliminary bid for Vivendi owned telecoms company SFR and reached an agreement with French mobile broadband company Free.
Frédéric Vern has been part of the real estate industry since his first role as a lawyer at Freshfields (2002), which he continued at Mayer Brown where he dealt with real estate and capital markets. In 2010 he utilised his experience to move in-house for Ivanhoé Cambridge, a global leader in real estate, M&A and capital markets. His efforts have been noted in his excellent track record in negotiations of transactional operations covering a range of arrangements in sales and acquisitions. Through his expert support, Vern has made the management of an estimated 20 operations possible in a period of only four years. He ensures the legal implementation and safety of all the group’s European portfolios ranging between office and retail space, only made possible by his ability to overcome the challenges of the differences in transaction ethics across European jurisdictions. His highlighted achievements include the acquisition of property companies’ share capital such as Gécina, and lease re-negotiations with world renowned entities such as GDF Suez (now Engie). Vern in addition participates as the master of conference with Sciences-Po Paris, an international research university, since 2013.
Miguel Videira Pimentão began his legal career as an associate attorney at magic circle law firm Clifford Chance. Based in their Paris office with a working knowledge of five languages, Videira Pimentão supported various departments on commercial contracts. In addition to contractual work and advising companies on diverse commercial and economic issues, he led corporate projects and coordinated internal teams for the firm during this period. His term included a six month secondment at Pfizer Animal Health and in February 2013 he joined global animal health company Zoetis, as senior legal manager (France, Italy, Spain and Portugal). The company became a standalone company that very month as a result of a successful initial public offering (IPO) of Pfizer’s Animal Health activities. With the wealth of knowledge he amassed in previous roles, Videira Pimentão was promoted to his current role as legal director and corporate counsel (France and Southern Europe) in under two years at the company. As he joined Zeotis at its conception, Videira Pimentão has had to build the company legal function from scratch. In doing so, he created templates, procedures, policies, databases, a law firm network and training programs while coping with the day-to-day work and building-up trust with the business at the same time. He is an active member of the senior leadership team, which includes the general manager of each Zoetis entities. Videira Pimentão therefore participates in senior leadership team meetings and enjoys frequent face-to-face contact, debriefings and calls with the General Managers. With such integration into the business it’s easy to see how Videira Pimentão plays an important role in the strategic direction of the company. ‘The business sees a lot of value in legal, and sees it as a partner, rather than as a mere internal service provider’ he says. One of his main focuses has been managing the impact of the new French law on Agriculture in October 2014, Loi d’Avenir pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et la Forêt, which revolutionised the relationships of pharmaceutical companies with their customers. Videira Pimentão says ‘since this new law brings new obligations to Zoetis and its employees, I am currently – together with my colleagues from the Regulatory Affairs department – providing training to the employees, working closely with the management to anticipate changes, drafting contract templates, participating in the local industry associations to discuss and define best practices. Lots of things going on, as you can see’.
‘Having the benefit of legal privilege is a critical need in our global environment nowadays’ proclaims William Wostyn, who has served investment company Viel & Cie since 1999. In 2004 Wostyn was promoted to group chief legal and compliance officer, he is also the director of several companies of the Compagnie Financière Tradition and Viel & Cie and the chairman of the supervisory board at Bourse Direct. Pursuing diverse roles and praised for his achievements within them, Wostyn has earned praise from numerous sources for his legal endeavours. At Viel & Cie, Wostyn has grown the department from its initial single lawyer and paralegal, and is now responsible for coordinating 11 employees at the head office and other entities across the globe, in addition to four regional compliance officers with dotted reporting lines. He coordinates the commercial undertakings along with legal so that both are closely involved in decision making at various levels in the group. Currently dealing with the Dodd Frank regulation in the USA and the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive in Europe, Wostyn recalls how ‘challenges have also evolved with time, as with any new initiative comes a different challenge’. With a wealth of knowledge and an abundance of experience that has grown within an evolving industry, Wostyn concludes; ‘working in many countries, I realise the benefit of one big legal family which encompasses in-house and outside counsel’.
Carol Xueref is one of the most respected in-house lawyers in Europe, having excelled in a number of high-profile roles while contributing significantly to a range of professional legal bodies. Xueref has worked with Essilor, manufacturers of ophthalmic lenses and a range of optical equipment, since 1996. She is currently its secretary general and serves as the director of several of its subsidiaries. Xueref began her role at Essilor with a team of 15 lawyers and has since grown the department to around 60 layers split into a number of functions. The team’s handling of corporate matters has been particularly impressive at a company that oversees around 20 transactions a year. Xueref has written extensively on legal and in-house matters and was recently recognised with the International Bar Association’s (IBA) Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award. She was a founding member and past president of the French association of in-house lawyers, Le Cercle Montesquieu, where she chaired the Ethics of In-House Lawyers working group and has held a number of notable industry positions including the secretary general of the Association Française des Femmes Juristes (French Association of Women Lawyers), director and member of the Ethics and Strategic Committees at Ipsen, director of the Franco-British Lawyers Society and board member to the Conseil de la Concurrence (French Competition Authority), where she chaired the compliance working group. Xueref began her career working within Commercial Attaché at the British Embassy in Paris before moving to the Chamber of Commerce International in Paris in 1986. She was then appointed as director of legal and tax at Banque Populaire de la Region Ouest de Paris and subsequently served as the head of legal at Crédit Lyonnais from 1993 to 1996 where she was also appointed general counsel at the subsidiary OIG.
‘We pride ourselves in the legal department about the fact that we keep things running smoothly despite the fact we are a small team’. Adele Zangs, vice president of legal and business affairs for Deezer, is in charge of the legal operations of the web-based music streaming service and dealing with record label giants around the world. With over 10 years of experience in the music industry, initially with Orange’s music services and then with Warner Music France, Zangs has the skills needed to navigate the recent increase in the intricacies of music rights to the benefit of Deezer. She is credited for her major and remarkable victory in the case against Universal Music France regarding new terms which imposed limitations to free plays and shares based on copyright infringement. The court ruled in Deezer’s favour claiming abuse of dominant market position. Deezer currently ranks as the third-largest music streaming service in the world, offering music in 180 countries with over six million subscribers. Zangs is credited for her ability to direct the legal team through the needs that Deezer may require, including contracts with local telecom groups, overcoming cross-border challenges, and being at the centre of new regulatory changes. Deezer is in safe hands with Zangs’ expertise and foresight even when rival groups in the same industry are battling class action claims. ‘I am glad I was able to keep up with the complexity of music rights without being too lost, the topics we work on keep on being very interesting, there is no routine at all in our daily work’.
Slow growth in Europe, and particularly the Eurozone has dominated headlines for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking European businesses have backtracked. France is often singled out as a case study on how low growth, high state expenditure, and heavy regulations have caused businesses to regress. As this Powerlist demonstrates, the reality is quite different.
France is home to some of the European largest, and strongest companies producing goods and services that are in global demand. France is also recognized as a European centre for innovation, with high-growth technology companies which form a booming and visible part of the French economy. Moreover, French businesses are staffed by managers and professional advisers who are widely considered to be amongst the best in the world, French corporate counsels are no exception. To stand out from the crowd in this environment takes a rare combination of technical knowledge, commercial acumen, strategic wisdom, interpersonal and managerial skills.
DS Avocats is delighted to support the GC Powerlist France and help recognise the leading figures of France's internationally-renowned in-house community. A strong and vibrant French economy is key to the future of Europe, and those featured in this list will play an important role to prompt the ‘French Touch’ even further. DS Avocats shares their passion, their thorough knowledge of the various sector specifics, their excellent advice and innovative approaches to law which enhance the businesses within their strategic growth and reinforcement of their market position. Like those featured in this Powerlist, we are constantly reflecting on various improvements of the legal services we provide through efficient methods as well as the role of the attorney within a changing business world.
However, we also believe that legal advice should be provided as simple as possible, without a vision of ‘over-simplification’. The interests of businesses are not served by avoiding the complexities of law. Professional advisers who can contribute to the success of a transaction, of a business or a strategic plan without losing sight of the legal complexities that may arise are truly unique. The members of this Powerlist have all managed to achieve this in their own way. We at DS Avocats share their approach.
We should not limit the professional relationship between law firms and clients to a simple commercial approach, but rather create a long-term relationship based on trust and viability. Sharing the same values as those individuals we represent is key to a collective future profession of the Law.
On behalf of all the Partners at DS Avocats, I would like to congratulate the Corporate Counsels included in the first GC Powerlist for France.
DS Avocats est particulièrement fier de s’associer à Legal 500 pour le lancement, en France, d’une initiative exclusivement dédiée à la distinction des directeurs juridiques.
Cet événement majeur nous offre l’occasion d’appréhender, ensemble, la meilleure façon de relever les défis de notre temps.
GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions worldwide.