Medicine man: Simon Rajgopaul, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
31 July 2011 | Updated: 1 August 2011 11:07 am | By James Swift
Simon Rajgopaul is the sole cure for all the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s legal ills.
Name: Simon Rajgopaul
Organisation: Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Position: Commercial lawyer
Reporting to: Director of finance Graham Duncan
Company turnover (2010): £40m
Number of employees: 230
Legal capability: One
Annual legal spend: £150,000
Main external law firms: DLA Piper, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Rouse
Simon Rajgopaul is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) first and only in-house lawyer. He joined in May 2009 on secondment from Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), where he was a solicitor in the firm’s commercial IP department.
Rajgopaul was sent to the RPS to help with its demerger from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in September 2010. The society was broken up on the recommendation of the Pharmacy Order 2009, which frowned on the practice of regulatory and professional bodies being housed in the same organisation.
It soon became clear to the RPS, however, that an IP lawyer was a handy thing to have around and, in October 2010, Rajgopaul joined the society full time.
“I was in commercial IP [at FFW] and had already been on secondment to MTV, so I’d had some media IP experience and that made me a suitable candidate to come to the RPS,” says Rajgopaul. “They didn’t have an in-house lawyer before me and the longer I was here, dealing with commercial contracts and advising on other things, the more people relied on me and the more it became apparent that they needed a full-time lawyer.”
Rajgopaul was only too happy to fill the gap for the RPS.
“I’m quite personable and think my personality is suited to an in-house role,” says Rajgopaul. “I have quite a relaxed demeanour and in some respects that’s more suited to an in-house environment than private practice. In an in-house role you have an environment where the people who are effectively your clients are sitting around you all day and you’re always bumping into each other around the building - in the canteen and so on - so you can give advice and build relationships.”
Rajgopaul is the only lawyer at the RPS and, for the time being at least, it looks like it is going to stay that way.
“My remit is as a commercial lawyer,” says Rajgopaul. “But I deal with all manner of other things, too. Since there’s only one lawyer here I have to deal with pretty much everything. It makes my job incredibly varied. One day I might have people coming to me because they want to buy a new water cooler, the next day someone will come to me with a major acquisition in Australasia.”
The bulk of Rajgopaul’s workload relates to the RPS’s publishing activities. Before the demerger the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain was the regulatory and representative body of the profession in England, Scotland and Wales. Post-demerger, the General Pharmaceutical Council regulates the profession while the RPS looks after everything else, including publishing textbooks such as the British National Formulary and weekly publication The Pharmaceutical Journal. This leads to a hefty slice of IP contract licensing and online licensing legal work. The shift from print to online publishing is another trend that Rajgopaul has to keep his eye on.
One of Rajgopaul’s first tasks was to bring some order to the RPS’s mass of contracts.
“When I joined the RPS there was no system in place for organising instruction contracts and you could waste hours searching for one,” he recalls. “So I uploaded about 1,000 contracts to a database. Doing this led into a legal approval process. There are 230 people across our offices and they aren’t used to using a lawyer so the contracts database has helped create awareness.”
At the moment, Rajgopaul is working on putting together the RPS’s first legal panel. He has just closed the tender process and is whittling down a shortlist of firms to provide legal services in a range of sectors, including competition and employment law.
Until now, Rajgopaul has mainly used FFW, Rouse and DLA Piper. He wants to streamline the process of instructing external counsel, put in place a coherent system and ensure the RPS instructs the right firm for the right work - and for the right price. He also wants to ensure that other employees know what work he can advise on and what they need outside counsel for.
Rajgopaul is not sure how large the panel will be, but says he expects to have the process completed by the end of the year, adding that it is important for prospective firms to have an international capacity, since the RPS has distributors around the world.
It is enough to keep one man busy for a long time.