More than 400 in-house lawyers from throughout Europe explored how to navigate an increasingly complex business environment through informational sessions, law labs, and networking at the ACC Europe's 2022 Annual Conference in Madrid, May 22 – 24, 2022.
The event marked the first time ACC members gathered in-person since the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The overall theme of the conference, "Embracing New Beginnings," inspired those in attendance with fresh perspectives on the in-house legal community.
The well-attended conference included programming which shed light on new opportunities for in-house counsel as they continue to address challenges with their ever-changing role.
Together again: energy, excitement, and a wealth of knowledge shared
Speaking about the event, ACC Europe President Ilse De Loof, general counsel and corporate secretary, Swissport, based in Antwerp, Belgium, said, “The combination of topics, venue, and networking all made for a wonderful event. There was so much energy and excitement to be back together again and to see in-house counsel from across Europe.
"The wealth of knowledge and expertise shared during these exciting three days was incredible, and I’m grateful to all the speakers, attendees, and sponsors who helped make the event such a success," she added.
At the opening plenary, "Embracing New Beginnings — Re-inventing the In-house Counsel Profile," Barbara Van Koppen, senior vice president, corporate center and general counsel, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, based in Amsterdam, spoke about the important role in-house counsel can play in a company in terms of influence and retention.
“You need engaged leadership in sustainability and ESG [environmental, social, and governance] that sets the tone and shows the way within your company. Otherwise, it gets difficult - retaining talent in a competitive market is a real challenge," Van Koppen said.
John Rigau, vice president, general counsel, PepsiCo West Europe, based in Barcelona, Spain, added, “You can always buy technical skills in law firms. But if you find talents which understand and embrace your company culture and values, these are talents who you don’t want to leave behind.”
At the same talk, Rigau highlighted the importance of sustainability. “Sustainability needs to be a transversal practice and all lawyers, and professionals should be trained on sustainability. We need to speak the business and not like lawyers.”
During the discussion, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) as a driver of success, Lola Conde, corporate & internal legal counsel, Banco Santander said, “There are three steps for corporate governance that any company can undertake in order to achieve DE&I success. These three pillars are awareness, compliance, and value. Ensuring that your efforts and policies touch upon these three aspects is a major step towards becoming more aware of diversity and being more inclusive.”
Throughout the three-day event, experts guided and advised attendees through sessions around numerous topics.
Some of the topics discussed included ESG, outstanding leadership challenges, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), risk management, counsel in a crisis, variance in global anti-trust regimes, legal operations, and more.
An abundance of knowledge was shared by some of the top in-house legal counsel from across the globe.
The conference was a strong return to form for live events by ACC Europe and continued where they left off after the 2019 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.
More photos from ACC Europe's 2022 Annual Conference in Madrid
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