The cool kids love the iPhone. Its sinuous design, the fact it has more ‘apps’ than you can shake a stick at, its multimedia, multitasking, multitouch silky screen…
I am not one of the cool kids. But then, as somebody who replaced his clunky Discman with a much more practical iPod just last month, what do I know about technological kudos?
A much better barometer of what is hot and what is not would be Justine Campbell. As director of legal and government affairs at the UK arm of mobile phone giant Vodafone (with a career spanning other telecoms companies Telefonica, O2 and BT), she knows a good gadget when she sees one. Vodafone is to start selling the iPhone imminently, competing with Orange and O2 for subscribers.
“This is a perk for us,” she says. “We’re already pre-registering on our website and hope to expand our customer base [as a result].”
The pre-registration element is the means by which Vodafone has sought to soften the blow of not being allowed to sell the iPhone until next year, thereby missing out on the Christmas retail surge. It is a major setback given the context in which this is taking place. From claiming to be the first company to launch the SMS, a potential merger between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK is poised to push Vodafone into third place in the UK in terms of market share.
Tapping into – and stimulating- the indefatigable desire for ever-more sophisticated products is the focus of Vodafone’s new strategy and the legal expertise is obviously replicating that.
Alongside the iPhone, Vodafone is launching the Vodafone 360, which unites social networking, games and contacts in one place, while providing the possibility for thousands of apps. It is exciting from a commercial point of view, but for Campbell it is something of a legal minefield.
As Campbell explains: “It generates legal and regulatory challenges, such as who owns content. We feel we have a responsibility on data protection issues and privacy issues. We want to balance people’s right to explore that space and do those funky things with the need to protect themselves, their children and their data in the least intrusive way possible.”
Another commercial initiative is the launch of Vodafone One Net, which makes SME users contactable via a single number, regardless of which handset they are using.
“Companies increasingly want mobile solutions,” believes Campbell. “They say: ‘We want a discount on it and we want it managed for us.’ From the legal side this requires a new contractual framework.”
This trio of initiatives – iPhone, Vodafone 360 and Vodafone One Net – is leading to an expansion of the in-house commercial capability. There are 22 individuals in the legal team, who are part of a wider grouping of 96, covering regulation, fraud, security and public affairs.
As The Lawyer recently reported (12 October), Campbell has had a lot on her plate since she joined Vodafone at the start of July, having carried out a radical overhaul of the in-house capacity. This restructuring has seen the creation of five legal teams (property, dispute resolution and employment, enterprise, consumer and technology) headed by Simon Clements, Douglas Birrell, Chris Macfarlane, Phil Auld and Antony Tomlinson repectively, all of whom are internal promotions.
It is the enterprise team that is being particularly bulked-up in anticipation of the new commercial initiatives. Vodafone claims to be the number one for corporate customers in the UK and is determined to maintain that, recruiting two people into that team. It is also hiring a couple of people into consumer and one into dispute resolution and employment.
“My view is that injecting new energy into the team will be very good,” says Campbell. “We want to experience fresh ideas. We’re prepared to give the right package to encourage the right people.
“We haven’t tackled any of it yet. We do most legal work in-house. [It tends to be] more employment and property. We’ll probably [address it at] the start of next year,” she says.
And then Campbell emphasises the point with a phrase I hope to use when quizzed in years to come on why I am still using a brick to make calls on instead of a silky, sensuous iPhone. “It’s not a big priority – I’ve got more important things to fix.”
Name: Justine Campbell
Position: Director of legal and government affairs
Organisation: Vodafone UK
Industry: Mobile telecommunications
Reporting to: Chief executive Guy Laurence
Group general counsel: Stephen Scott
Company turnover: £5.3bn
Number of employees: 9,500
Legal capability: 22
Legal spend: £5m
Main external law firms: Linklaters, Osborne Clarke
Justine Campbell’s CV
1987-91: LLB, Trinity College Dublin
1991-92: College of Law
1993-95: Trainee, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
1995-99: Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
1999-2001: Senior competition counsel, BT
2001-06: Head of competition law, O2
2006-08: General counsel, Telefonica O2 Europe
2009-present: Director of legal and government affairs, Vodafone UK