Philip Morris International appoints non-lawyer as legal director to investigate law firm budget

Philip Morris International (PMI) has installed an innovative new model for in-house legal teams by promoting a non-lawyer to the position of director of legal services.

Peter Gavrushenko has been transferred from the corporate affairs group to examine the legal group’s budget and how it is best spent on its law firms, its training programmes and its use of technology.

“I’m focusing on the numbers side of the business,” Gavrushenko told The Lawyer.

Gavrushenko joined the legal services group last week, where he reports to vice-president and general counsel Marty Barrington. His aim is to allow lawyers to focus on the law while he manages the legal group’s business affairs.

This will include a review of the tobacco company’s multimillion-dollar legal budget. Firms such as Arnold & Porter, Clifford Chance, Collyer-Bristow, Covington & Burling and Winston & Strawn will have to launch a charm offensive.

Gavrushenko and Barrington are due to meet with the associate general counsel, who head the company’s separate regions and business groups, to discuss the group’s external spend.

Having a non-lawyer in such a position of influence will strike fear into the hearts of less progressive private practitioners, many of
whom have been upset at the influence wielded by procurement departments in recent panel reviews.

“All those things [budget, planning, training and technology] take time, and it shouldn’t be an attorney that’s doing it,” said Gavrushenko. “The concept [of a non-lawyer in this position] is interesting. It makes business sense.”

PMI, which is headquartered in Lausanne in Switzerland, is one of the Altria group of companies and operates separately from Philip Morris USA. The legal services group has more than 100 lawyers, servicing some 40,000 PMI employees worldwide.