France Telecom legal chief joins B&M to launch team

France Telecom is losing its general counsel to the Paris office of international law firm Baker & McKenzie.

Emmanuel Guillaume will join Baker & McKenzie as a partner at the beginning of June.

He will take with him the legal director of France Telecom subsidiary Branche Enterprises, Christian Blomet, who will join the firm as a local partner.

Guillaume is the first lateral hire to be made in the Paris office, reflecting a turning point in Baker & McKenzie’s strategy.

Guillaume, who has been with France Telecom for 12 years, says that he is leaving because his role there is over.

He says: “I had a double mission – to work on the evolution of the telecoms regulations and the legal status of the company and to develop and create an internal legal function. Now I have created something that is running well and I want to find a different challenge and build something new.”

At Baker & McKenzie he will set up a telecoms group which he will market to the telecoms industry. Internet service provider Wanadoo will be the group’s first client.

Guillaume says: “The telecoms industry is not well known in the legal market and I’m able to bring experience and knowledge of the industry to Baker & McKenzie.”

Baker & McKenzie’s Paris managing partner Eric Lasry says the appointment fits in well with the firm’s strategy to build the office on strong strategic blocks.

He says: “Guillaume has the hands-on experience that can only be achieved through being at the forefront of all the major steps of evolution in the French telecoms market. He has been involved in the development of all of France Telecom’s subsidiaries which are related to the internet, and in the sale of the first mobile licences in France, which were granted to France Telecom.”

He also led the legal team when the company floated on the Paris and New York stock exchanges in October 1997.

Guillaume was appointed general counsel in 1991 and five years later he was made legal and tax manager for France Telecom.

Guillaume’s appointment will bring the number of partners in Baker & McKenzie’s Paris office to 15.