Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards 2023

Lawyer Monthly Legal Awards 2023 UNITED KINGDOM 47 Katherine Ollerhead is General Counsel and Company Secretary for the Canonical group of companies. She heads a global team of lawyers responsible for legal matters across multiple jurisdictions. Katherine qualified as a solicitor nearly 20 years ago and worked in private practice as an IT and outsourcing lawyer before joining Canonical. Canonical is the publisher of the Ubuntu open-source operating system. Katherine, please tell us about what your career progression has been like over the 11 years you have worked for Canonical leading up to your role now as General Counsel and Company Secretary. Is there a key skill or strategy you have developed as the size of your team grew? I joined Canonical in 2012 to run the legal team, building on my experience as a senior private practice IT/outsourcing lawyer. Canonical had an existing legal function, but my initial focus was to develop the documents and support required for the commercial team whilst retaining oversight of the other legal functions. I have overseen the growth of commercial support to the sales team and also responded, as required, to changes in the business and the law. I have developed and implemented clear processes and procedures for all aspects of the legal and regulatory compliance required for the expanding business and have grown a competent legal team, worldwide, to support the commercial business. My role also includes managing all outsourced work (primarily relating to personnel, real estate and compliance matters) and working with external lawyers, as required for the regulatory and corporate functions of a successful company. As the legal team has grown, I have implemented processes, developed documentation and provided support and training, so that the team can operate as required to support the commercial business. Everyone is clear as to the decisions that they can take and when a matter requires escalation, and I am confident that they are providing the service required, without seeking to micro manage. I also encourage my team to develop their own relationships with the commercial business so that Canonical can work efficiently without layers of management and authority. As a team, we regularly review and interrogate our processes to find areas of improvement and efficiency, both within the legal team and in the services we provide to support the business. What changes and advances have you witnessed within the technology industry and what impact have these had on the legal aspect of the business? I’m a problem solver and am always working out ways to do things better and to help us work more efficiently with the resources we have. We use a wide range of resources for the more administrative tasks, freeing up lawyers’ time to concentrate on the more complex issues. Fortunately, I have access to experts in seeking to assess and implement third-party technology to support the legal function. Canonical is at the forefront of new technology and as lawyers supporting the business, we have to ensure that we have good knowledge of the company’s technology offerings. We, as lawyers, have to assess the risks and opportunities to the business arising from the fast-changing technology sector and how they may impact our existing documentation and procedures. What would you say are some of the most challenging legal issues that arise in the technology industry and how do you stay up-to-date with the evolving landscape with such rapid advancements happening? Our customers are in nearly every country and industry in the world. As a legal team we have to be cognizant of local differences, whether legal or otherwise. We use a wide range “My proudest achievement is the Canonical legal team, which I have built up to support the Canonical business.”

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