Wanted: new legal chief for Olympics

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog) has set its requirements for the new role of general counsel, and it is looking for one of the most senior people in the legal market.

The general counsel will take over from commercial and legal director Charlie Wijeratna, who will become commercial director.

Wijeratna told The Lawyer: “We’ve taken the decision that we need someone very different as an organising committee to what we needed as a bid team.”

That person will be a far more experienced lawyer than the youthful Wijeratna, with 20 years’-plus PQE. Locog would like to headhunt the general counsel of a major corporation or a very senior lawyer from private practice with management experience.

“We need someone with gravitas. He or she is going to be a senior member of the management team at the most high-profile company in the UK,” said Wijeratna.

The general counsel will be a key adviser for new chief executive Paul Deighton, who took over from Keith Mills on 3 April 2006.

The general counsel will have to understand the media and be comfortable in a political environment managing the company’s stakeholders: the Government, the London Mayor, the British Olympic Authority and the Olympic Delivery Authority.

The legal team will need to comprise around 30 people by the year 2012. The company as a whole is expected to grow from 100 people to 3,000 by the time of the Olympics, in addition to 75,000 volunteers.

Locog has appointed former Cable & Wireless general counsel Elizabeth Wall, who recently launched her own recruitment company, to lead the search.