In-House Counsel in Parent Companies: A Balance Between Two Roles
Gilles Mugnier, Deputy General Counsel, SNCF, France
One of the key-challenges for the in-house lawyers in parent companies remains to provide legal support to the Subsidiaries while ensuring the group governance.
These two roles are contradictory. However, a successful legal department shall deal in priority with these two roles and shall endeavour to cooperate but also to provide and clarify group guidance towards Subsidiaries’ lawyers.
The in-house counsel shall then base its role on three priorities:
• Managing legal risks.
Dealing with these three tasks represents a daily challenge, and the return of experience is key.
In addition to the advice to the managers of the Parent Company, an in-house counsel is expected to set up the general rules applicable to the whole group. This role has to be regularly combined with an involvement in operational projects and support to the various needs of the Subsidiaries.
Leading and organising a legal department in a Parent Company differs from a pure operational department. Additional tasks are required as support to lobbying or knowledge management which also lead to increased costs and investment.
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