Warburg Dillon Read has become the first UK investment bank to appoint a general counsel with responsibility for legal issues globally.
Mark Harding was WDR's European general counsel before the new position was created for him. The promotion makes him a member of the board.
He says: “I have a big role in WDR now. There are general counsels in Asia Pacific, Asia and the US, who I will be responsible for. They will have to report to me. I will also be chairing the bank's government committee.”
Harding was made European general counsel of WDR when it was created last year out of the merger of SBC Warburg and Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). He was chief counsel at UBS.
Harding says he will generally only use four outside law firms. “Before the merger SBC used Clifford Chance, and UBS used Allen & Overy,” he says. “We will continue to use them, but Freshfields and Linklaters will also be called upon to do some work for us.”
He explains that only US investment banks have had global general counsels in the past, and adds that WDR is the only real investment bank that is based in London.
“Our staff structure follows the US pattern. US investment banks tend to have global general counsels. European banks tend to have a head of legal who is involved in head office issues, but he will have less control over global matters.”
Harding adds that he thinks WDR's decision to appoint him to his new role is significant. He says: “It shows an immense amount of scope.
“By doing this, WDR shows that it is committed to managing its legal risks on a large scale. It shows that the bank is organised on a global level.”
The position of general counsel globally does not require Harding to concentrate on any specific legal issue. “Assuming that there is not a huge year 2000 problem, there is not one major legal issue to contend with,” he says.
Harding trained at Clifford Chance. He joined UBS in 1996, and became general counsel Europe in 1998.