Gate Gourmet doubles size of in-house legal dept

Airline caterer Gate Gourmet has more than doubled the size of its legal team in the past few months and is likely to keep growing it under new management.

In Europe the team has more than doubled its numbers, from two lawyers to five, including one paralegal. The US legal team, which was set up less than a year ago, has quadrupled in size, from one lawyer to four, again bringing in a paralegal.

Gate Gourmet general counsel Hooman Yazhari told The Lawyer: “We’re looking to hire another lawyer in Europe.

“The work is very varied. There’s a lot of employment and HR work, a lot of customer contracts and always a few litigations in the offing.”

Yazhari said the company has been able to put its past troubles behind it, including the numerous disputes with trade unions that grounded British Airways flights in 2005.

Better financial performance and new management has meant that the legal team has had to grow along with the company.

“We’ve had a shareholder change after Texas Pacific sold their interest and now we’re owned by a multitude of financial investors,” said Yazhari. “The in-house lawyers here are at the forefront of everything.”

The company still uses the same relationship firms, including Baker & McKenzie, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Weil Gotshal & Manges.

This year the Gate Gourmet legal team has been boosted by a Weil lawyer on a six-month secondment.

Yazhari joined Gate Gourmet in September 2004 from US firm Chadbourne & Parke and was the company’s first in-house lawyer.