In-house counsel can go too far in their search to becoming the perfect business partner, according to Teva Europe general counsel Galit Gonen.

In The Lawyer’s in-house interview published this week, Gonen talked about her in-house strategy and how her team is integrated within Teva Europe’s business to provide valuable business services.

In order to maximise cross-border collaboration between teams, Gonen has launched the Legal Internal Mobility Opportunity (LIMO) to allow members of the in-house legal team to do a physical or virtual collaboration, and the ‘gateway of legal development’, a group that leads on regional subject matters that affect the business.

“I’m making sure that I have long-term projects that synergise between local speciality generics and other matters,” she said. “The business really loves it. We’re really investing in combining local and regional expertise. 

Now we’re working much better in terms of professionalism and communication skills.”

Teva is now working on rolling these initiatives out throughout the worldwide in-house team.

Although becoming a business partner is important, Galit argued that in-house counsel can go too far and lose sight of their role as legal advisors. 

“It’s very important for lawyers not to go too far in becoming a business person,” she said. “We need to be business partners but we can’t be the business, we can’t do their roles.

“I like to be a business partner. I can fine-tune what the business needs and what it wants – my perspective on this is that you lose credibility on the things in which you are an expert. Everyone needs to be clear on what their expertise is.” 

Within the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector, the high number of consolidating businesses has seen companies look within its ranks to innovate. 

Gonen, who was promoted to the top role in 2013, has already implemented change within her European domain.

“We face change all the time, especially at Teva. It’s a matter of making a decision; one can decide to accept the change or to be afraid of it,” she said.

“In other groups like the US it’s more divided, the synergies between the company aren’t as apparent as in Europe. In Europe, the same countries are doing everything and therefore the structure of the group function has to be different. I have a bigger group with a wider variety of skills and different nationalities.

“I still have a lot to do and work to develop in my own world. I want to get the projects started and to have the best European team I can have, to be able to expand,” said Gonen.