IN-HOUSE LAWYER OF THE YEAR

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WINNER: Richard Vary, Nokia Corporation

Since Nokia's head of worldwide litigation Richard Vary joined in 2006 the company has gone from being primarily a defendant in patent litigation cases to a company that actively monetises its substantial patent portfolio. “He has really made a difference to a part of Nokia's business, helping to turn them from hunted into hunter in IP disputes,” outlined one judge. Vary's team is currently managing 200 pieces of active litigation around the world, much of which relates to large, multi-jurisdictional patent disputes. Vary has brought the average cost per patent of litigating cases to Nokia down by more than 50 per cent in five years, without any impact on the quality of work or success rates.

Last year was a particularly successful one for Nokia legal, with Vary leading Nokia through a substantial and groundbreaking claim against the participants in a cartel that was fixing prices of LCD screens, and completing the bulk of its six-year successful litigation against IPCom. Vary has also been heavily involved in working with the European Commission on its approach to standard essential patents, and when or whether injunctions should be granted. Nokia's approach on the treatment of standard essential patents has since been endorsed in the Commission's approach to Samsung and the US Federal Trade Commission's consent agreement with Google.

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2ND: Geoff Wild, Kent Legal Services

“Just reading the application tired me out,” said one judge of Kent Legal Services director of governance and law Geoff Wild's round-up of achievements this year. The legal team that Wild created from scratch generated £12m in annual turnover last year, with a profit centre of £2m which goes directly to funding the council. This year, Wild launched the Evolution Process, which aims to further save the council money and boost external income.

“Turning a profit in a business these days is not a given and it's great to see a local council being led by a visionary and competent leader,” said one judge. In addition, dozens of lawyers have been trained and developed at Kent. These include legal assistants without qualifications who have been nurtured to become CILEX fellows, solicitors who have qualified with Kent and secretaries who have gained valuable paralegal and secretarial qualifications. One judge said: “Geoff is another example of a lawyer looking beyond the traditional path to qualification and promoting and using the talent no matter where they trained.”

3RD: David Haigh, GFH Capital and Leeds United FC

GFH Capital general counsel David Haigh has succeeded in strengthening commercial ties between the Middle East and the UK, personally leading the first-ever successful bid by an Islamic bank to acquire a major English football club (Leeds United). Since completing that acquisition, Haigh has been publicly and heavily involved in many aspects of the club's business, including ongoing landmark litigation proceedings. In addition, he is overseeing the conduct of a £75m investment dispute on behalf of Gulf Finance House BSC, GFH Capital's parent company. “For a client that's never been in that sector, dealing with legal and cultural sensitivities requires intelligence, skill, tact and diplomacy,” said one judge. Haigh has it all.

Finalists

  • Jeremy Cross, Anesco
  • Gregory Mappledoram, Truphone
  • Nicola Shand, Scotia Gas Networks