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GC Spotlight: Rupert Hopley, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of Informa plc.

We have another modern General Counsel on our GC spotlight series this month! We spoke to Rupert Hopley who is the Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of Informa plc - a publishing, business intelligence, and exhibitions group headquartered in London.

1. Hi Rupert! Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m the Group General Counsel and Company Secretary for Informa plc (https://www.informa.com/), an international B2B events, academic publishing and information services Group, listed on the London Stock Exchange.  I’ve been here for almost 10 years and previously worked in the technology, travel and telecoms sectors.  I started my legal career at Allen & Overy in London in the last century (I now sound very old) and over the years have been fortunate enough to work across the globe and live in the UK, Hong Kong SAR and Switzerland.

2. What does it mean to you to be a modern GC?

I think it is a dynamic, challenging, fun role where you can help drive and influence a business – in my case, on an international stage.  Businesses are constantly changing and evolving, and the fun comes in working closely with colleagues to solve problems.  

3. What have been your biggest challenges during the pandemic?

There were numerous challenges as the pandemic swept across the globe and we all adapted to its impact at a personal and professional level.  We were particularly focused on our 10k+ colleagues, as we all changed the way we worked and interacted.  With a global footprint and a leading presence in face to face events, there were numerous challenges for those businesses as we pivoted to more digital offerings and postponed physical events until we were allowed to run them again. 

4. What are your key priorities for the year?

Seeing people face to face - I’ve had enough of zoom/teams calls!  Law (and Informa) are people businesses and the sooner we can get back to meeting with each other, the better. 

The reality is the pandemic is still having a varied impact on our business, as different countries have managed to emerge from it and return to a level of normality; some have wide-spread vaccination programs and are hopefully emerging from the social restraints/lock-downs; while others are still facing tough challenges, as we see variants of the virus emerge and spread.  

So, at a business level, we have created a platform of stability and strength from which we will emerge at different rates in our numerous locations and products. 

5. What do you think about the use of LegalTech, data analytics and process optimisation to improve your legal department's value (e.g. data relating to contracts, risk, tracking workflows, performance metrics, costs)?

We continue to monitor the evolution of Legal Tech related products.  As a global business, with 5 operating divisions and numerous product lines, we have yet to see the benefits outweigh the significant investment that it would require. But we will keep an eye on what emerges over the coming 12 – 18 months. 

6. What developments or trends do you expect to see in the legal services industry in the next 5 years?

I expect the outsourced operating model for in-house legal departments to continue to evolve and change, to meet the constant financial challenges we (and our businesses) have.  The inherent overhead costs of Global law firms and the resulting top $ invoices have opened up big opportunities for KorumLegal and other alternative suppliers to step in and provide the flexible/adaptable services that companies like Informa need.  

7. Where do you see NewLaw/ALSP fitting in the matrix of your legal department? 

They are already a key part of our matrix and I think that will only grow in coming years.  From a customer perspective, I’ve worked with ALSP’s such as Lawyers on Demand (LOD), Halebury and KorumLegal for 10+ years, as they help meet internal resource on a flexible basis and at a far better cost than law firms are able or willing to do.  They have also filled a key area for career development for many excellent lawyers who want the flexibility to make their career work for them, rather than be caught in the rigid cultural tramlines of the old-school law firms.  That is a win:win solution for those involved.