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Drinks industry's top legal talents revealed

Drinks industry's top legal talents revealed

Six Australian drinks industry in-house counsels have made the Top 100 of The Legal 500's 2019 GC Powerlist. 

For more than 30 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world.

GC Powerlist Australia recognises corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward.

The Legal 500 canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Australia, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow.

The Legal 500's team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise the list.

The drinks counsels who made the list include Will Duffy, Senior legal counsel at Treasury Wine Estates (above); Betty Ivanoff, Group general counsel at Coca-Cola Amatil (below left) and Michelle Monteleone, General counsel Australia, Coca-Cola Amatil (below right).

Monteleone responded when asked what the most important transactions and litigations were that she'd been involved in during the last two years: "Of note in recent times for me personally is my key involvement in the establishment of the Queensland Container Recovery Scheme and leading the legal workstream on the sale of the iconic SPC Ardmona fruit preservation business based in Shepparton, Victoria. This transaction saw Amatil divest a much-loved part of its portfolio after a rigorous auction process and an administratively complicated transition to separate the businesses. Leading the legal workstream on Amatil’s investment in the MADE Group of companies (which saw the first co-investment made with our brand partner, The Coca-Cola Company) was also a particularly proud moment for me!"

Libby Davidson, Group general counsel and external relations director at Lion (above left), was also on the list; as was Kylie McPherson, Director of corporate affairs and legal, APAC and ANZPI, Brown-Forman (above right).

When asked what are the most important transactions and litigations she had been involved in during the last two years, McPherson said: "From a corporate affairs perspective, ensuring the business maintains its freedom to sell and advertise our products is the most important thing we work on daily. This work involves campaigning for a fair go for spirits, whether that means ensuring the NSW lockout laws enable consumers to drink neat whiskey after midnight, campaigning for lower excise rate comparable with beer and wine, or ensuring our stakeholders understand that Australians are drinking less alcohol now than over the past 50 years but are treating themselves and drinking better quality products."

When asked what she felt was the best way to get more women into in-house legal leadership positions, she answered: "So far I haven’t had any difficulty with this in my in-house roles – in my first in-house role for an investment bank I reported to a strong and inspirational female general counsel and there was a majority of female lawyers across the business. At my previous place of employment, my whole legal team was women until quite recently, and currently my Asia Pacific legal team is all women with, again, a majority female skew at global legal team level."

Zoe Solomon, Vice president legal, Australia and New Zealand at Carlton & United Breweries (pictured main) also revealed the most important transactions and litigations that she'd been involved in during the last two years.

"The A$16bn acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries by Asahi Group Holdings, (subject to customary regulatory approvals), the acquisition and integration of 4 Pines Brewing Company by Carlton & United Breweries and the acquisition and integration of Pirate Life Brewing by Carlton & United Breweries, amongst several others," she said. 

When asked how she felt was the best way to get more women into in-house legal leadership positions, she answered: "In-house legal teams should focus more on results-based working to give women more control of their time. This is different to the ordinary flexible-work model. Work doesn’t need to be a physical place you go to each day. It need only be something you do. If the focus narrows to results, it doesn’t matter where or how it gets done.

"We also need to see broader uptake of leave arrangements no matter the gender or life stage of an employee. Leaders must set the example on this front whether that be taking sabbaticals, parental leave, domestic violence leave or other time away from work that is required. And it’s critical that businesses constantly analyse these policies and their effect on recruitment, promotion and retention rates to ensure they work."

Click here to see the full list