Legal chief quits Pearson as media giant eyes US market

Pearson, the international media giant, has parted company with its head of legal as it refocuses its operation towards the US.

Group legal director and company secretary Paul Vickers has already left the company but a replacement has yet to be found.

Pearson is now looking to recruit a US-qualified lawyer to replace Vickers as the company switches to a US-style general counsel system.

Pearson's chief executive Marjorie Scardino says that the role of head of legal has changed.

“We now need a US-qualified general counsel with greater American experience, and hope to be announcing this appointment in the near future,” she says.

The change in culture comes following a number of disposals and acquisitions that have altered the face of the company.

Most significantly, these included the $4.6 bn acquisition of the Simon & Schuster educational publishing businesses that led to the creation of Pearson Education.

A spokesman for Pearson says that the majority of acquisitions and disposals have now been completed and any others are more likely to take place in the US.

More than 50 per cent of the company's revenue is now generated in the US.

Vickers' departure raises questions over the future of the remaining members of the 30-strong UK legal team.

Pearson refused to comment on whether there will be any downsizing or what effect the development will have on the company's external legal advisers, principally Herbert Smith and Freshfields.

Vickers has yet to announce his own plans.