Publicis UK growth prompts search for London counsel

French advertising giant Publicis Groupe is set to launch a UK legal function and is on the hunt for its first London-based lead counsel.

The move follows the rapid expansion of the group in the UK. Publicis general counsel Russell Kelley said: “We now have a critical mass in London, which justifies the creation of a legal post to provide support to our agencies in London.”

Following the appointment, Publicis is hoping to slash the amount of legal work it outsources. “[We’re] looking to do routine work in-house and to impose some discipline in the way we use outside law firms,” said Kelley. “Currently, we use too many firms in the UK, so we’ll take a look at how our outside legal services are provided in order to make the system as efficient as possible.”
Publicis currently farms out most of its legal work to outside lawyers, and although the group is not wedded to a particular firm, its principal corporate advisers are understood to be Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith. The former firm is acting for the group on the acquisition of troubled advertising agency Cordiant, while the latter advised on its takeover of Saatchi & Saatchi.

The successful candidate will report directly to Michel Karam, the director of the group’s shared services, and indirectly to Kelley.