Shell kicks off global litigation group with Fulbright hire

Royal Dutch Shell has launched a new global disputes group to handle all of its litigation and arbitration, appointing Fulbright & Jaworski partner Richard Hill as the group’s associate general counsel.

The new group, Legal Services Global Litigation (LSGL) was launched on 1 May and will spearhead the company’s drive to provide more specialised legal advice and will handle a wide range of contentious work, including litigation, arbitration, employment matters, regulatory and enforcement work, as well as IP-related disputes and government investigations.

The new structure sees the group divided into two specialised areas, Global Litigation International and Global Litigation Americas. Hill is set to to lead the Global Litigation International sub-group, which covers disputes in Europe and the CIS , the Middle East, North Africa and the Asia Pacific, while Houston-based associate general counsel Lynda Irvine will lead the Global Litigation Americas sub-group, which covers North and South America. The general counsel of the Global Litigation Group is Brad Nielson, formerly general counsel of Shell’s projects and technology group.

Hill’s appointment brings the group’s headcount to over 70 lawyers globally, out of Shell’s 600-strong legal team worldwide. He will take up his new role in August 2012 in the company’s London office. 

The two groups will comprise four managing counsel. Under Hill, London-based Sarah Morton will be in charge of European, Middle Eastern and North African disputes. Julius Ejikonye will be responsible for sub-Saharan African disputes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Jannet Regalado will manage Asia-Pacific East disputes from Manila and Wesley Harris will be in charge of Asia-Pacific West disputes from Kuala Lumpur, having recently transferred there from Shell’s Houston office.

For the Americas sub-group, Houston-based Mike Beckwith and Brian Carmichael will manage US upstream and downstream disputes respectively, while Gordon McCue will lead Canadian disputes from Calgary. Jim Cowan, who recently relocated from Houston to Rio de Janeiro, will be in charge of Latin American and Caribbean disputes.

It is understood that each managing counsel will have a team of between six and 12 lawyers reporting to them. There will also be a third associate general counsel, Kim Phillips, who will oversee and ensure consistency across the group in terms of strategy and procedures. David Werner is the sole managing counsel in Phillips’ group. He will be responsible for ensuring that the group is up-to-date on developments and requirements in the e-discovery arena, meeting the growing demands for such discovery in a coordinated and cost-efficient manner.

Hill, who joined Fulbright in 2005, headed the firm’s Asia disputes practice from its Hong Kong base for three years from July 2008.

Fulbright London managing partner Lista Cannon said: “While we are very sad to lose Richard, we are very proud of his appointment as associate general counsel with Royal Dutch Shell, a company with which Fulbright has long-established links.”

Hill said: “This opportunity came out of the blue and was too exciting to miss. I am delighted to be joining Shell, which is not only a great company but also one that is large enough to enable me to take on a senior in-house role while remaining a disputes specialist.

Hill is not the only recent recruit into Shell’s legal team. Morton joined Shell as managing counsel in December 2011 from Debevoise & Plimpton, where she had previously worked closely with Shell’s legal director Peter Rees and the firm’s head of European and Asian litigation, Lord Goldsmith QC.

Rees joined Royal Dutch Shell as legal director in January 2011 to take over from Beat Hess. He was previously a partner in the dispute resolution’s group of Debevoise & Plimpton’s London office. Prior to joining Debevoise he led Norton Rose’s dispute resolution department (5 October 2010).

Rees recently spoke to The Lawyer about what life is like in-house (2 April 2012).