In this series, you'll be hearing from a variety of in-house counsel at different stages of their careers as they take us along the story of their career journey and share their experiences and insights into what it takes to be an effective in-house counsel.

Inside In-House Podcast Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets

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In this series, you'll be hearing from a variety of in-house counsel at different stages of their careers as they take us along the story of their career journey and share their experiences and insights into what it takes to be an effective in-house counsel.

    The Entertainment Industry

    The Entertainment Industry

    Following on from our  podcast launch interview (https://insight.thomsonreuters.com.au/legal/resources/resource/inside-in-house-podcast-episode-1-general-counsel-as-trusted-advisers) , where Tyrilly Csillag, Head of In-House and Commercial at Practical Law interviewed Michelle Dillon, General Counsel at Verifone, our latest Inside In-House episode is a pivot from the FinTech space to the entertainment sector.  

    Tyrilly spoke with two experienced corporate counsel on the program. They are Ivana Kovacevic, Assistant General Counsel at Aristocrat and Cameron Stewart, Senior Legal Counsel at Foxtel.

    The in-house X factor This particular episode sparked a ‘full circle’ moment for Tyrilly. She met and worked with Cameron while back in private practice. Whilst there, Tyrilly found herself on the opposite side of litigation with Ivana, when Ivana was practising at a law firm! The legal profession is indeed a small world.  

    This leads us into our first section of the podcast, in which Cameron and Ivana discuss the pathways and reasons for moving in-house. 

    For Ivana, while the opportunity came up for her in an unplanned way, the decision to remain there remains clear.  

    “I work with a great team and the company is full of such talent - both legal and non-legal. We have artists, mathematicians and everything in between! It's really inspiring to go to work and be surrounded by people like that,” she said 

    Work-wise, like most in-house professionals will tell you, no two days are the same for Ivana. But another plus factor is the commercial focus. At Aristocrat, Ivana is pleased with how close she is to her client and its business. As Ivana explained: 

    “Immersion into the business comes with a unique ability to support the business, to really understand what it wants and also to have a seat at the table when strategic decisions are being made so you can influence and support it from the start” 

    Ivana Kovacevic, Assistant General Counsel at Aristocrat 

    Over at Foxtel, what attracted Cameron to join its legal department was his love for entertainment content and commercial law.  

    “You don't really get that in-depth experience from private practice, where you're working on the periphery and you're working for multiple clients. When working in-house, you kind of gain plenty of knowledge around what drives different facets of the business,” said Cameron. 

    A typical day for Cameron and his legal team is very diverse, depending on the projects they have operating at the time.  

    “If I'm working on a production, particularly a scripted production, that will take up an inordinate amount of time during the day, and everything else can get pushed back because there are certain timeframes” 

    Cameron Stewart, Senior Legal Counsel at Foxtel 

    Furthermore, Cameron added that while the variability of each day may be challenging, it is also the feature that makes working in-house fun. 

    Related article:  Legal Operations Manager at AustPost Shares her Career Story (https://insight.thomsonreuters.com.au/legal/posts/legal-operations-manager-at-austpost-shares-her-career-story)  

    Entertainment industry challenges Providing legal guidance to businesses operating in the entertainment sector is challenging, as it is very highly regulated. This can make for an adrenaline-filled legal environment at times. Tyrilly invited the guests to share some stories about any crisis or unique challenges they have faced. Cameron responded: 

    “Often you'll be in a situation in a room where, particularly with the creative guys, they want to add some controversy, particularly in TV, they want to say risqué things.” 

    “You've just got to pull them back a little bit. Your

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    General Counsel as Trusted Advisers

    General Counsel as Trusted Advisers

    Thomson Reuters is pleased to launch a brand new in-house podcast, capturing the voices of corporate counsel to ‘talk shop’ and swap stories. For episode one of Inside In-House, Tyrilly Csillag, Head of In-House and Commercial at Practical Law, approached a General Counsel with executive influence to speak on the program. The special first guest is Michelle Dillon, General Counsel – Asia Pacific for Verifone, a FinTech company offering point of sale technology. Tyrilly and Michelle go way back professionally, having worked together early in their careers within the same legal department. Here Tyrilly interviews Michelle on her in-house journey. Their conversation has a particular focus on the business acumen required to become a company’s APAC trusted legal adviser.

    From law firm to in-house

    Flexibility is a word you’ll hear a lot when you speak with corporate lawyers who opt to move in-house. In Michelle’s case, the in-house choice was not only a good opportunity to get back into the workforce after parenting two children, but her flexible attitude. 

    “I moved over to in-house by being flexible – that is the recurring theme you will hear in discussions with me. As a lawyer, the key to success in the professional world is to be flexible in your commercial and professional relationships, and your ability to adapt to different surroundings,” she explained. 

    A day in the life

    Tyrilly asked Michelle what a typical day looks like for her, steering the ship as a regional GC. To this, Michelle points out the flexible work hours and time zones to consider in a given work day. 

    “My day starts with New Zealand where it is two hours ahead and finishes with India, which is four and a half hours behind. Overnight I also engage with emails such as communications from the United States, so it is a very long day. Again, you need to be flexible and join calls at all times of the day, or sometimes at night,” she replied. 

    As to the question of travelling, prior to the  travel restrictions (https://insight.thomsonreuters.com.au/posts/coronavirus-and-travel-insurance-exclusions-discussing-a-pandemic-claims-response-strategy)  were not in place), Michelle would spend a lot of time abroad. 

    “I spend a lot of time socialising with the teams in whichever country I’m in. To me that’s how I measure success. It is not just by the role or the title I have, or how big my team is. Success is in how much I enjoy my job, want to get up in the morning and go to work and the relationships that I have developed in the course of my career,” said the General Counsel. 

    Earning a ‘seat at the table’

    The podcast host pointed out that General Counsel are required to have a high degree of business acumen. So how has Michelle developed these skills over time, Tyrilly asked? The answer is simpler than you’d think: through relationships. 

    “To be able to do that, you need to develop good relationships where you’re not only seen just as a lawyer, but also as a true business partner and trusted adviser,” offered Michelle. 

    Part of building this trust as a legal adviser is done through the use of astute empathy and understanding.

    “I have helped the business realise that I’m here to assist them and get the deal done. To support them and not to be the stopper…you know, the gate that stops deals happening. It’s very important to show the business that you are there for them. Once you’ve earned their trust, you find that you are welcomed, involved, and your advice is asked for” – Michelle Dillon, General Counsel – APAC, Verifone

    Michelle has been in a senior legal role for several years now and is part of the Corporate Executive Management Team at Verifone. The concept of having a seat at the table is critical for a General Counsel. Tyrilly asked her how she uses her role and ski

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