IN-HOUSE TMT TEAM OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Channel 4 Television Corporation

In a year that witnessed “the spectre of Leveson”, as one judge put it, and numerous scandals, Channel 4's legal and compliance team rose spectacularly to the challenge of enabling programme makers to demonstrate the broadcaster's statutory remit of ‘innovation, experimentation and creativity’ and “exhibiting a distinctive character” within an uncertain regulatory climate.

During the London 2012 Paralympic Games the team offered compliance training to live presenters and producers of shows such as The Last Leg, an edgy, alternative view of the day's sporting events hosted by a disabled comedian. Despite the potential to cause harm or offence, the series was critically acclaimed and has been re-commissioned.

The team also won High Court victories for public interest journalism and freedom of expression, and emphasised that any restriction on the media’s freedom of expression must be proportionate, enabling an investigation revealing dubious ticket-selling practices by Viagogo and coverage of the Dale Farm evictions. One judge commented: “This team advised with the spectre of Leveson, with debates about free press, with politicisation and with more uncertainty than ever seen before in the media. They had to do their job without any certainty of the rules or what would happen next. Not many lawyers would have the strength, courage and conviction to do that. All that in addition to working with boundary pushing producers on any normal day at the office.”

2ND: ITV

Nominated by panel firm Olswang, the ITV legal team has been an integral part of a five-year transformation plan launched by CEO Adam Crozier in 2010. So far, the plan has resulted in increased profits, the elimination of debt and a rise in share price.

The in-house team is based around the four core business areas of broadcasting, studios, global entertainment and commercial and online. ITV's in-house team has pioneered a fixed-fee billing model with its panel firms, runs a comprehensive Legal Technical Excellence programme as a follow-up to its mini MBA programme and participates in a pro bono joint initiative with Hogan Lovells through a groundbreaking indemnity based model.

One member of the judging panel described the ITV team's initiatives as “nothing short of transformational”, adding that the team was “a leading light in how to make the external panel work harder for their fees. The training programme is superb and well supported”.

3RD: GlaxoSmithKline

The judges in this category were impressed by GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK)'s 'One Legal' philosophy, which benefits more than 600 legal colleagues across 40 countries by promoting a greater level of enterprise thinking, communication, knowledge-sharing and interaction. The company's Legal Advisory Council was also commended.

The launch of the Legal Dashboard, accessible to the legal department worldwide, uses a range of qualitative and quantitative measures to provide visible performance indicators on its legal services and risk management. Care is taken to ensure lawyers are allocated effectively, with clarity around risk ownership and subject matter experts available across the business. UK lawyers undergo a half day of training every two months.

One judge commented: “The Legal Advisory Council is a lawyer-empowering initiative which in a large hierarchy is commendable. GSK gave a credible example of how legal underpins risk. Getting among the business people with training and support is what lawyers should be doing in-house.”

Finalists

  • BT Group
  • bwin.party digital entertainment
  • Hitachi Data Systems
  • The Football Association