Simmons partner fills MCI legal counsel role

Upheaval in MCI’s legal department has seen its chief international counsel depart and Simmons & Simmons partner Rhys Williams step in.

MCI’s chief international counsel Ann La France is rejoining US firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey as a partner and head of its European communications practice. She will split her time between the firm’s Brussels and London offices.

La France rejoins the firm she left in 1996 to join MCI Worldcom, as it was then called. She was responsible for all of MCI’s regulatory, competition and government affairs outside the US.

La France’s departure follows that of former general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Stuart Blythe, who left at the end of 2003 to become group legal counsel at Viatel.

The vacuum has been filled temporarily by Simmons telecoms partner Williams, who joined MCI last week on a six-month secondment.

The company is searching for a new general counsel for EMEA. Anastasia Kelly was appointed MCI general counsel in the US last August.

The company has endured an accounting scandal, Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and a purge of those found responsible for the problems. It is due to emerge from Chapter 11 this month.