Telefonica UK shakes up legal team in wake of senior departures

Telefonica UK’s general counsel Edward Smith has shaken up the company’s in-house legal team, taking advantage of two departures to promote internally and change the structure of the group.

Edward Smith

Senior lawyers in Telefonica’s marketing and consumer and competition teams, Jillian Phillips and Mark Simpson, have both recently left the company, with Simpson returning to Norton Rose as an of counsel. He was previously a senior associate at the firm before joining Telefonica UK.

Smith told The Lawyer that he had used the vacancies to “make best use of the talent we’ve got”. He said following an external and internal search for people to fill the roles, he had managed to find people to fill the roles who were already working at Telefonica UK.

“Having had a long cold stare at the market it’s great to find that we’ve got talent from within to promote,” Smith said.

Head of legal Kent Dreadon, who formerly looked after the competition and litigation team, now has overall responsibility for teams including IP, employment and litigation and new business, but is not directly responsible for any of them. Smith now oversees the regulatory, competition, operations and marketing and consumer teams and said the rejig had made reporting lines clearer.

“Kent’s stepped up in seniority so he isn’t tied down with responsibility of running a particular team,” said Smith. “It frees him up to do only the very highest-quality work and the most valuable work.”

Competition lawyer Bella Hinton has become the new head of competition. Smith said the role was a key one which was usually taken by a more senior lawyer and the promotion reflected his confidence in her abilities.

Julia Boyle has moved from heading up the IP team to looking after the marketing and consumer team, which provides advice on the relationships with Telefonica UK’s 20m retail consumers. Retail work contributes the bulk of the company’s £6bn revenues.

Smith said the move was a “complete change” for Boyle and represented his desire to ensure that lawyers were able to shift between teams. “I’m really delighted that people in the team have taken the opportunity to do something different outside their comfort zone. It’s vital that junior lawyers coming into the team see it’s a meritocracy.”

Other changes include the promotion of IP lawyer Melissa Hall to take over from Boyle. Tony Fleat has assumed responsibility for both employment and litigation in a newly-combined team.

Of the nine teams within the legal department, five are now led by women.

The restructure did not lead to any change in the number of roles in the Telefonica UK legal team, and Smith has not changed the company’s external legal advisers.

The rejig is the second restructure since Smith’s appointment in 2010 (1 June 2010). He said the shape of the team was now “where I wanted to get to”.

For more on Telefonica UK, read our in-house profile and watch our Hot 100 video interview with Smith


Edward Smith, Telefonica