In-house

Charmian Averty’s relationship with insurance group Resolution began before she moved there as in-house counsel in 2009.

Charmian Averty, Resolution

While still an associate at Slaughter and May, Averty acted for the company on its IPO. However, since taking up the in-house role Averty has had hands-on involvement in all of Resolution’s deals. She leads legal advice within Resolution for both its privately owned services arm and FTSE100 company. Averty is constantly on top of the details, whether the work is an acquisition, building board policies or dealing with the related party circular that will allow the private arm to grow further. Averty’s team remains small, but she is more than capable of dealing with whatever her job throws at her next.

 

Belinda Bradberry, Cable & Wireless Communications

After starting life as a private practice corporate lawyer in Australia, a secondment at Telstra Corporation convinced Belinda Bradberry that telecoms was her calling. Since 2006 she has been head of legal and regulatory affairs at Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), which was formed in 2010 when Cable & Wireless demerged into CWC and Cable & Wireless Worldwide. With a regional focus on Panama, Macau, the Caribbean, and Monaco and Islands, including 38 jurisdictions, Bradberry certainly has her work cut out. As a result, much of her role involves liaising with lawyers worldwide, supervising governance reviews of specific projects and managing CWC’s relationships with governments.

Margaret Coltman, Prudential Group

Legal panel reviews were a strong focus for many companies in 2011, in particular general counsel Margaret Coltman, who oversaw the review of Prudential Group’s external legal advisers worldwide. Coltman began working at Prudential in mid-2009 on an interim basis before being appointed as group general counsel and company secretary in January 2010. She proved an ideal fit. Coltman brought both experience in private practice and in-house to the role, having spent 30 years advising public and private companies during her time at Norton Rose before taking on the role of general counsel at Lloyds TSB prior to its takeover of HBOS.

Paul Lister, Associated British Foods

More than three years ago the BBC broadcast a Panorama documentary about retailer Primark featuring footage alleging that the company’s suppliers in India used child labour. Last year the corporation was forced to broadcast an apology after an investigation by the BBC’s Editorial Trust found the footage had been faked. Primark, owned by Associated British Foods, fought hard for the resolution, the battle led by director of legal services Paul Lister. Speaking out after the decision Lister criticised the BBC and the length of time the investigation had taken, claiming that Primark had become “the poster boy of child labour in the UK”, a comment picked up by most of the major news outlets. It is fighting talk from a dynamic in-house counsel willing to brave into the media spotlight.

 

Gareth Madge, South Wales Police

A pioneer in his field, Gareth Madge became one of the UK police force’s first resident in-house lawyers when he was appointed legal director of South Wales and Gwent Police. He could not have been appointed at a more challenging time, joining as he did in the wake of a merger between South Wales and Gwent forces’ legal services departments. Madge brought with him plenty of experience, having been a member of the Association of Police Lawyers since its inception in 1995 right through to 2009, including six of those years as secretary and four as chair. He sits on the force’s chief officer group as the only civilian on the panel that controls strategic management for South Wales policing.

 

Monica Risam, Aviva

The experience of managing a global legal and compliance team at GE Capital made Monica Risam a perfect candidate to kick-start Aviva’s European legal function in 2011. Risam joined insurance giant Aviva in July last year to take up the newly created role of general counsel for Aviva Europe. She manages a 75-strong team spanning France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Turkey and several other key European jurisdictions. She is already making her mark, conducting a rigorous review of Aviva’s relationships with law firms across Europe to establish its first formal roster of European legal advisers.

Sheena Singla, Essar Energy

A first-time in-house role can be demanding enough, let alone when it involves setting up a legal team from scratch. This was the task that faced Sheena Singla when Essar Energy snapped her up from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in late 2010. In a little over a year she has established a small legal team in the company’s London branch and has handled a number of large-scale projects. These include advising on the issue of $550m of convertible bonds, the acquisition of Indian refinery Navabharat Power and, most recently, the $350m acquisition of the UK’s second-largest oil refinery in Stanlow.

Hilary Strong, Chorion

Working outside your comfort zone is never easy, particularly when you are thrown in at the deep end as your company undergoes a restructuring, but this is the task facing Hilary Strong, who joined Chorion as general counsel in October 2010. Strong was previously an IP lawyer in private practice and worked for 13 years as group business director at Hat Trick Productions. Since joining Chorion, she has been leading the 3i investment company through troubled times as it sells off its assets, one by one. Chorion, which owns Noddy, Mr Men and the Agatha Christie franchise, was

close to going into administration in 2011 and Strong has overseen three disposals in three months.

No mean feat.

 

Polly Weitzman, Ofcom

Last year was a busy one for the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and 2012 does not look like being much quieter. That means plenty of work for Ofcom general counsel Polly Weitzman. Among last year’s big cases, Ofcom won a major Competition Appeal Tribunal case against a consortium of telecoms providers, giving it the right to intervene in disputes over prices. In the year ahead Ofcom will have input into areas as diverse as video-on-demand, the Olympic Games and postal services – a recent addition to its roster of responsibilities. Weitzman and her team will be key to the success of all these issues as Ofcom handles the increasingly diverse world of telecommunications, both in and out of court.