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Kate Cheetham, group general counsel at Lloyds Banking Group, has a new challenge on her hands.

Fresh from celebrating the retail bank’s milestone of a full return to private ownership nearly a decade after it was bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis, she is set to add group executive committee meetings to her workload.

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Law Firms Mentioned

<a href="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Ashurst
  • DLA Piper
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Linklaters
  • Norton Rose Fulbright

/uploads/sites/378/2017/06/Kate-Cheetham-profile-photo-Article-201706260655.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-62328" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Ashurst
  • DLA Piper
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Linklaters
  • Norton Rose Fulbright

/uploads/sites/378/2017/06/Kate-Cheetham-profile-photo-Article-201706260655.jpg" alt="" width="616" height="372" /></a>Kate Cheetham, group general counsel at Lloyds Banking Group, has a new challenge on her hands. Fresh from celebrating the retail bank���s milestone of <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/05/17/freshfields-advises-as-lloyds-banking-group-is-re-privatised/">a full return to private ownership</a> nearly a decade after it was bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis, she is set to add group executive committee meetings to her workload. Her addition to the exec meetings comes <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/07/05/former-linklaters-managing-partner-davies-leaves-lloyds-banking-group-amid-management-shuffle/">after the departure of her former boss, ex-Linklaters managing partner Simon Davies</a>, from his role as chief people, legal and strategy officer, for family reasons. As part of a raft of management changes announced in anticipation of a major strategic review due to take place next year, Cheetham will now report into chief financial officer George Culmer. It marks the latest in a series of bank-wide shifts to have affected the legal team since Lloyds announced in 2014 that it planned to shed around 9,000 jobs during the subsequent three years. The now-300 strong legal team has been affected alongside other departments, with several rounds of job losses. Cheetham, who has been GC for two years, is reluctant to discuss the cuts. Those previously reported by <em>Legal Week</em>, however, include real estate counsel Lesley Wan, who opted to take voluntary redundancy earlier this summer, <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/03/22/lloyds-bank-axes-22-legal-jobs-as-part-of-ongoing-restructuring/">22 in-house legal cuts</a> announced earlier this year as part of its ongoing redundancy programme, a <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/annaward/2016/03/30/lloyds-cuts-junior-lawyer-jobs-amid-wider-restructuring/">handful of junior lawyer roles</a> going last year, and <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2015/04/20/lloyds-cuts-25-in-house-litigation-jobs/">25 litigation lawyers being axed in April 2015</a> as the bank streamlined processes in light of increased regulatory scrutiny. <blockquote>What drives me is building teams and growing those teams to be more efficient</blockquote> What she is more comfortable talking about are the operational changes she has made for her team during her time as GC. One of the overarching themes of Cheetham���s tenure has been agility, which, as she��admits, ���can mean a number of things to lots of different people���. For Cheetham���s team, it encompasses both those working flexible hours and those working from home. Most importantly though, it refers to an agile environment across the whole legal team, with Cheetham keen for everyone to gain experience in as many areas of the bank as possible. This focus on agility and change is nothing new for Cheetham, given the significant career change she personally embarked on in her late twenties. After studying history of art at UCL, she helped set up and run an art gallery in Chelsea. While it may not be a typical job history for a GC, Cheetham maintains that the skills she learnt there have shaped how she operates as a GC, even though it became clear after five years that it wasn���t the right job for her. ���I wasnt a dealer by nature,��� says Cheetham. ���I realised that what drives me is not the difference between the buying and selling price, but the other aspects in a business like building teams and growing those teams to be more efficient.��� After training at Linklaters and a stint in the magic circle firms��corporate practice, in 2005 Cheetham moved in-house as corporate counsel at Lloyds Bank for its group legal division. ���Group legal was small when I arrived,��� says Cheetham. ���I came in to do M&amp;A and other corporate work, but I was surprised by how much needed doing. Since joining, I have tried to build out the team and have brought in a range of different skillsets, including specialist treasury lawyers and more corporate lawyers.��� <blockquote>We proactively go out and try and instruct the firms that share our standards</blockquote> Asked about her greatest achievements during her time as GC, which has seen the bank carry out major acquisitions including that of credit card company MBNA, as well as returning to private ownership and winning a significant case before the Supreme Court, she says: ���I think that guiding the legal team to a place where it is working together as one legal community is admittedly quite an internal-facing achievement, but one nonetheless. ���We have really come to a place now where instead of having divisional silos ��� which was the structure when I joined in 2005 ��� we have now got a team where everybody will get involved in legal issues that impact the whole group.��� The current setup consists of two central legal teams: group legal and group litigation, regulatory and��competition. Centralising the litigation function for Lloyds was something she implemented before becoming group GC. Under the group legal umbrella there are four customer-facing teams, which align to the bank���s business divisions: retail legal, commercial banking legal, insurance legal and consumer finance legal. Each team has its own GC, who all report into Cheetham. Cheetham has also created a legal practice management team, which includes a legal services centre and deals heavily with the procurement team to ensure the bank is getting the best possible value from panel firms during reviews. This group is led by Sophie Schwass, who recently joined from Barclays. But staff are far from locked into their teams. Cheetham encourages them to take secondments with other parts of the bank as it deals with major projects like the TSB spin-off or dealing with the upcoming ringfencing requirements. These types of projects let lawyers work on issues they may otherwise never have gained experience of. ���What I try to continually achieve is a closeness to the business but also making sure that you don���t have to stay in that one area and that your skills are being used right across the Lloyds��� legal community for the benefit of the group,��� says Cheetham. <blockquote>We make sure that law firms are working in a way that is best for us</blockquote> Job shadowing in other departments is encouraged, with Cheetham keen for all her team to gain experience of at least two practices. She admits: ���I did float an idea about everyone having a second practice area but it was only partially successful. ���I think it was only partially successful because a lot of people thought: ���well, I am here as a specialist litigator so how do I suddenly become a property lawyer as well?��� But I think incrementally people will do this anyway, because they are developing much greater experience from areas that hitherto they have not been involved in.��� One key enabler for Cheetham is technology. She has helped introduce Legal Matter Management software that is already being used on a team-by-team basis and is close to being rolled out across the whole group. Technology, alongside value, was front and centre of the bank���s recent <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2016/10/13/dla-piper-and-norton-rose-lose-places-as-lloyds-finalises-intense-panel-review/">review of its external legal advisers</a>. She is piloting e-billing for panel firms, giving the in-house team better vision into the breakdown of the costs of particular work given to each firm. ���These types of technology change the relationship we have with external law firms because it changes the information that the in-house lawyers have about them, and it makes people drive to make things as efficient as possible. It also means that we make sure that law firms are working in a way that is best for us and not just in the way that they are set up to operate.��� The technology law firms can use to help Lloyds is equally important and played an important role during the latest review, which saw CMS, Eversheds, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Allen &amp; Overy, Ashurst and Addleshaw Goddard retain spots on the panel, and DLA Piper and Norton Rose Fulbright lose out. One significant part of the review was based around innovation,��with firms adoption of artificial intelligence technology��cited as an important��factor Panel firms were also tested on their commitment to inclusion and diversity. ���They need to understand us, and they need to understand our values and share them. For us it is really important to work out how we operate in the community, because that is all about our customers, so we very much expect our law firms to work with us on that,��� says Cheetham. The core firms that made it on to the panel already attain the diversity standards she holds herself. She says: ���I can���t see us instructing a firm that doesn���t share the importance of the position that we hold. We proactively go out and try and instruct the firms that actually do share our standards.��� Despite what has been a rocky few years for the bank, Cheetham is confident that the changes she has already implemented will benefit the team in the long run. She says: ���What I think is important is that we are now giving people more opportunities to work across the group from a structural perspective, and in doing so, it broadens people���s career experience and ultimately creates a pipeline of lawyers that give more well-rounded advice for the bank. ���Having been part of the legal team when the government took a stake in the group, I am particularly proud that we have now returned to full private ownership. It has felt like an incredible few years as everyone has worked hard to transform the group into a simple, low risk, UK-focused retail and commercial bank.��� <

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Ashurst
  • DLA Piper
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Linklaters
  • Norton Rose Fulbright

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