UK Roundup: In-house

The long-awaited news of a permanent head of legal at the Olympic Delivery Agency (ODA) was revealed by The Lawyer this month (23 October).

ODA trumpets new head of legal

The long-awaited news of a permanent head of legal at the Olympic Delivery Agency (ODA) was revealed by The Lawyer this month (23 October).

Celia Carlisle, a project finance specialist, was appointed by the ODA to be head of legal for the body responsible for delivering the infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Carlisle, who had been consulting to various entities – most notably EDF Energy’s development branch – was not able to take up her post officially until late September despite agreeing to take the role in June. The delay meant extra time in the top job for DLA Piper‘s Manchester-based project finance partner Peter Rout. It also meant that Carlisle was able to have a close involvement with the selection process for the five-member ODA legal panel.

The hotly contested panel resulted in Berwin Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons getting the nod to advise the body on its legal work in the run-up to the games.

Rout, for obvious reasons, was excluded from the panel selection process, but Carlisle was heavily involved although not being officially in place at the ODA.

One of the major pieces of work so far out of the panel has been the mandate to negotiate the contract for the construction of the main Olympic and Paralympic stadium. Clifford Chance won the mandate and construction partner Tim Steadman will work closely with Carlisle as they negotiate the terms with the Team McAlpine consortium.

Carlisle told The Lawyer: “I have many years’ experience with bidding, negotiating and raising funding for large-scale infrastructure projects.” And she is going to need all that experience for the highest-profile project finance job in the land.

Team McAlpine is the same group that built Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium – led chiefly by construction company Sir Robert McAlpine. The construction company is renowned for jealously guarding its legal work, keeping the majority of it in-house. McAlpine head of legal Peter Brinley-Codd leads a small but highly efficient team that is certainly no stranger to big-ticket projects.

The appointment of Carlisle gives the London 2012 team a full-strength legal outfit. Her appointment follows that of Goldman Sachs general counsel for Europe and Asia Terry Miller to the role of general counsel for the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

Miller started in her new role this month, filling the vacancy that was left when Charlie Wijeratna moved to become director of commercial negotiations.

Reports make mixed reading for general counsel

Annual report time makes for interesting reading, highlighting the salaries paid to companies’ top executives who have seats on the boards. There are not many, but there are a few general counsel who have board positions and have the details of their salaries published for any interested onlooker to examine.

In keeping with the Olympic theme, insurance group Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) was last week named as the broker for infrastructure work for the 2012 games. JLT group legal director Vyvienne Wade has been a member of the board since January 2002. She was made group legal director in 1997 after joining the in-house team a decade earlier.

According to the company’s annual report, Wade earned £548,000 for the 2005 financial year – a year in which the company’s profit fell by some £20m to £77m. Her package was made up of a £275,000 base salary and a £250,000 bonus, plus £23,000 in ‘other benefits’. By contrast, her 2004 package totalled £350,000 – representing a 57 per cent increase in her pay packet.

By contrast, BHP Billiton chief legal counsel and head of external affairs John Fast took a $300,000 (£160,200) pay-cut for 2005-06, thanks largely to a dip in earnings from his shareholdings. Fast still raked in a total package of some $1.85m (£990,000), including a $649,283 (£346,770) bonus and a salary of $738,079 (£389,920).

Energy lawyers prove to be biggest earners

Salaries remain a vital topic of interest, as statistics from www.the reveal. The top story on our website for the week ending 20 October was entitled ‘Energy lawyers scoop biggest pay packets’. This was a summary of findings revealing that in-house counsel at energy companies are the among the best paid in the country, outstripping colleagues in the banking sector for the first time.

The rise and rise of oil, gas and commodities prices has pushed salaries up, and the lack of top-quality candidates for lower-level vacancies has pushed wages up further down the chain of command. The latest survey by recruiter GRS Group showed that energy in-house counsel earned nearly 9 per cent more than colleagues in the commerce and industry sectors, while bonuses were 5.4 per cent higher.

Anecdotally, The Lawyer heard during the week of a number of energy companies that had open vacancies, many of which had been longstanding.

The survey found that average salaries for in-housers rose by 7 per cent for the year, but they still lagged well behind those of private practice lawyers, which rose by 9 per cent. The average salary for an energy company head of legal was £234,000, while senior counsel with seven years’ experience commanded an average of £116,000.