WINNER: Spire Healthcare
There is no doubt that Spire Healthcare's legal team goes above and beyond. The in-house lawyers gain valuable insight into the business they serve by getting out of the office and on to the shop floor to shadow nurses, caterers and porters at Spire's hospitals, one of many examples of the team's 'out of the box' thinking.
In April 2012 the Competition Commission launched an inquiry into the private healthcare market which should determine the shape of the sector for years to come. But for Spire's legal team, reviewing more than 8,000 documents as part of the inquiry was just a day job. While the big players in the private healthcare market were heavily engaged in the Commission process, the Spire team was concerned that individual doctors and patients were unaware of the market inquiry and that their voices were not being heard. In a bid to redress the balance the team issued a series of newsletters and leaflets through Spire hospitals, while general counsel Dan Toner spoke at more than 30 evening meetings to raise awareness of the process.
“They think outside the box and take account of issues in their industry to ensure that their customers have a voice on important matters/changes in legislation that affect their practice,” praised one judge. The team displayed another example of 'out of the box' thinking in February 2013, when Spire's legal department engaged with the insurance market to launch Medica Insure, a first for the sector. Consultants can expect to save around 20 per cent on their indemnity premiums with savings of 40 per cent or more for their work undertake nat a Spire hospital – a rare example of an in-house legal team contributing to the bottom line.
About Pure Search
Operating from offices in London, Hong Kong and Singapore, Pure is a specialist practice offering a search and selection service to a broad range of multi-national clients within the private practice, financial services, commerce & industry and not for profit sectors.
Our highly experienced legal consultants provide full-service recruitment solutions for requirements across the UK, EMEA and Asia Pac regions, including market mapping, networking and headhunting. We have extensive knowledge of working within the commerce & industry sectors and therefore recognise the integral contribution a strong in-house legal team makes to the success of a business.
We are proud to continue our longstanding relationship with The Lawyer by sponsoring this prestigious award and would like to offer our congratulations to the winner and all the finalists for their impressive achievements.
2ND: National Car Parks
National Car Parks’ relatively new legal team of two has a tall task at hand. The legal team is crucial to ensuring regulatory and statutory compliance, and 2012 saw a new challenge with the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act. Working closely with industry associations and internal teams across the business, the legal team ensured that all aspects of the business were compliant with the new statutory regime. This involved shaping innovative policies and processes on enforcement and car park management and carrying out a review and redraft of the parking contract provisions across the whole country.
The team has also helped engender a significant cultural change in the attitude towards in-house lawyers, increasingly being seen as a help and not an obstacle. Working closely with the national leadership team, and through constant communication, there has been increased awareness of operational pitfalls inherent in not bringing in legal advice at an early stage. One judge said: “This submission demonstrates the power of a small legal team successfully embedding itself in the organisation and transforming the perception of in-house legal in business.”
3RD: Premier Foods
Trading performance at UK brands powerhouse Premier Foods was at its worst when Andrew McDonald joined as general counsel in 2011 from food manufacturer Uniq. A year later and McDonald and his legal team have helped the company raise more than £370m - well ahead of Premier’s target of £330m by 2014 – by leading its legal team through a number of divestments, which so far include the sale of brands such as Sarson’s vinegar, Branston sweet pickle, Hartley’s jams and Elephant Atta flour – in a bid to cut the company’s debt mountain from a whopping £1.27bn. As part of a company-wide efficiency drive, McDonald was also forced to cut legal costs last year, resulting in him and his five-lawyer team taking most of the commercial work in-house. Premier has since reduced its external commercial legal spend by over 85 per cent and corporate spend by over 75 per cent. “The team have an integral role in the business,” said one judge. “They appear self-sufficient with a clear focus on costs. Given the size of the team and their overall approach, they are exemplary.”
- BG Group
- InterContinental Hotels Group
- McDonald's Restaurants