Letter of law
7 February 2011 | By Joanne Harris
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As European GC at security company Lockheed Martin, Brian Craig not only deals with fighter jets and arms trafficking, but the more everyday matter of sorting your post.
If you received a letter in the post this morning, chances are that Lockheed Martin was involved in its delivery. In the UK more than 60 million letters a day are sorted using the company’s optical character-recognition technology.
It is one example of the breadth of business at the world’s largest security company. For European general counsel Brian Craig, it is part of what makes his job varied and exciting.
Former US Army captain Craig joined Lockheed Martin in the US in 2005. He had a corporate finance background and was housed initially in the M&A team, carrying out private finance transactions. Lockheed Martin did not have a legal presence here, but it was not long before Craig relocated to launch a UK legal team.
“As our footprint in the UK grew we realised that we really needed a lawyer here to execute business here,” Craig says. “If you have an in-country lawyer who’s able to understand how the corporation works in the US and to translate that here, that really helps us to do business.”
Craig arrived in London in 2008 as general counsel for Europe and remains Lockheed Martin’s only lawyer in the UK. But Craig feels as though he is part of a much bigger team. “While I don’t have 20 other lawyers working in this office with me, what I do have is 140 other lawyers in other offices,” he explains.
He routinely shares knowledge and work with his legal colleagues overseas, and works alongside the engineers and software specialists who form the main workforce.
Although Lockheed Martin is best known for its military and defence capabilities, it also works with civilian businesses, such as Royal Mail, to provide technological support.
“We’re definitely a security-orientated company, but we have this technology that builds into a lot of civilian things,” says Craig. He admits his military background gives him the “vocabulary” for the job, but stresses that his project finance experience is more useful on a daily basis.
Much of Lockheed Martin’s work is procured through project financing. Craig believes that project financing is more advanced in the UK than in the US and involves a wider range of projects. A current example is the development of the F-35 fighter jet, which will provide employment for thousands of people in the UK and involves a number of other organisations including BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the US and UK military.
Other projects include a 25-year contract to deliver training for RAF pilots. The programme is a 50-50 joint venture with engineering company Babcock involving private finance from banks. “This gives the Government a very efficient way of procuring services,” Craig says.
Craig and his colleagues around the world handle a lot of the legal work themselves, depending on their skills. However, if something too complicated comes up Craig does turn to outside counsel - usually Allen & Overy, DLA Piper or Latham & Watkins. The relationships are not part of a formal panel.
Lockheed Martin has recently looked at its fees, and Craig has cut some costs by ’north-shoring’ work to DLA Piper’s Scotland and Northern England offices.
“If we have broad areas where we know we’re going to need compliance assistance, we negotiate a reduced fee, and I think it’s been very successful in terms of taking some cost out of the business,” he says.
Craig also has to keep on top of regulations affecting the industry. Recently he has been trying to ensure that the company’s procurement processes comply with the UK Bribery Act.
“This is a massive effort as you can imagine,” he says. “What we’re trying to do from a legal perspective is make sure that we’re procuring from suppliers in a commercial manner but also that complies with requirements from around the world.”
The company has to pay particular attention to international arms traffic regulations, which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and are constantly under review.
“It’s a challenging discussion at times but we have an extremely close relationship with the UK Ministry of Defence on these subjects,” Craig says.
Ethical issues also come under scrutiny, although they are handled in the US by a dedicated ethics team.
The scale and variety of the projects carried out by Lockheed Martin keep Craig busy. The company has no plans to add to its legal capability in London, but Craig is happy being the European cog in Lockheed Martin’s international legal team.