Earlier this year, BarkerGilmore was asked to recommend women who are leaders in the legal profession, women who could be next in line to be General Counsel at a public company. Known as the R3-100 List from InsideCounsel’s Women, Influence and Power in Law network, it features women in law in five areas: intellectual property, compliance, litigation, governance and securities, and M&A/transactions/generalist.
These are women who report directly to the General Counsel, have frequent contact with the executive suite and board and substantial leadership skills as well as experience. We consider it a privilege to have worked with these talented women who contribute so much to the profession. This is the third in a three-part series sharing their stories and insights.
Emily Jelich, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Royal Bank of Canada
Jelich leads the Global Disputes and Employment team for the Royal Bank of Canada, Canada’s largest financial institution, and the Operational teams supporting the Global General Counsel Group. Her role includes leading the transformational program for the General Counsel Group and leading the finance, knowledge management, technology and designated counsel teams.
(BG) Can you give us an example of something that has changed as a result of the transformational program you lead?
(EJ) We’ve had lots of examples where process improvement has led to benefits, both real, hard dollar savings and savings in terms of people’s time, which has allowed them to focus on more strategic work. It’s also led us to look at our technology to make sure we’re using it as well as possible.
For instance, we’re making sure we’re prescriptive about how files are opened and being diligent about establishing naming conventions. It may not sound significant, but by doing so we ensure that no one will have files that only they can see or find.
(BG) What would you say are the most significant challenges in your role?
(EJ) As the business grows, particularly into markets that may be more litigious, the challenge is staying ahead of risk, but also managing expectations in terms of the costs associated with doing business.
For example, RBC Capital Markets has grown in the United States. As it grew, it was important for us to stay close to the business and help them understand the legal landscape and anticipate issues and costs. The business had to make sure they had the right policies and procedures in place to ensure they were well-governed in relation to this landscape.
(BG) What words of wisdom would you pass along to aspiring lawyers?
(EJ) Two things: One is what we often say to in-house counsel, which is really get to know the business that you support and make sure you understand both the costs and benefits and the risks and rewards. I would go further than that and say to the extent you can, become part of the business you support.
I think lawyers can stay within our four office walls and think vaguely about the fundamentals of our businesses. The roles I have taken outside the law group have been incredibly beneficial for helping me understand the practicalities of the advice I am giving to the person who’s receiving it, and how they’re actually going to be able to put it forward.
The second I would say is be bold and stretch yourself, both within the legal side and outside the legal side.
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