Reuters' in-house team hires employment expert

Reuters has recruited an employment specialist for the first time to join its 70-strong global in-house team.

Jo-Ann Semple will join as legal counsel from DJ Freeman by the beginning of October.

The FTSE 100 company previously used external counsel for employment advice. But it now feels it has to have a full-time specialist in-house if it is to cover employment law effectively and cost-efficiently.

Deputy general counsel Andrew Garard says relationships with current employment advisers Simmons & Simmons, Rowe & Maw and Freshfields will be maintained.

He says that European Union legislation and the Human Rights Act mean employment law is becoming increasingly complicated and demands full-time in-house coverage.

Semple will liaise with the human resources department as well as external advisers. She will also provide employment advice on areas such as M&A and joint ventures.

Semple joined DJ Freeman a year ago specialising in employment, but after a period on secondment at Shell she decided to move in-house.

Reuters' in-house legal team includes lawyers specialising in a range of practice areas such as corporate, M&A, media, competition and IP.

The only area not covered by the in-house team is property, which Garard believes is better served solely by external advisers.

The idea of having nearly all practice areas covered by a company's in-house team has been gaining momentum across all industries.

Last year, Coca-Cola appointed a legal manager to supervise employment issues that had previously been the sole domain of the human resources department (The Lawyer, 22 November).

Retail giant WH Smith also handles all its employment work in-house unless the matter concerns a director, in which case it is passed on to Manches. British Airways also has two employment specialists in-house

Garard says: “In-house lawyers have to add value to the business. With the advent of European legislation we need to have someone on the ground here because that is a value add.”