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General Counsel Q&A with Elizabeth Matthews of TotalEnergies (US)

Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business (PLJ) lately spoke to Elizabeth Matthews, Deputy Managing Director, Executive Vice President, and General Counsel of TotalEnergies (US), about turning into a real associate to the corporate and the way the legislation division transitioned through the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLJ: How is the authorized operate structured?

Matthews: TotalEnergies’ companies within the US are numerous, together with exploration and manufacturing, renewable power, refining and chemical substances, fuel and energy, advertising and companies, and buying and selling and delivery, so the authorized operate is split into teams of attorneys devoted to every particular person enterprise. There are additionally teams of attorneys in authorized specialty observe areas (corresponding to mental property, litigation, compliance, and well being, security, and atmosphere), which give help throughout the assorted US companies.

PLJ: What are the highest targets or areas of focus for the legislation division?

Matthews: Our prime objective is offering wonderful, environment friendly, and cost-effective authorized help to all the firm’s US companies. We deal with being considered as true companions who preserve a real curiosity and curiosity within the companies that we help. We goal to know how we will add worth and assist our purchasers notice their strategic aims.

PLJ: How has the COVID-19 disaster impacted the best way the legislation division operates?

Matthews: I’ve been impressed by how seamlessly the legislation division has transitioned to offering authorized help remotely, typically whereas balancing further obligations at dwelling, corresponding to homeschooling youngsters whereas the colleges have been distant. Since lots of our attorneys began their careers at legislation companies, remotely advising a consumer comes fairly naturally to our crew.

PLJ: How does the legislation division keep away from being perceived because the “office of no” whereas nonetheless making certain it helps the consumer keep away from legal responsibility?

Elizabeth Matthews, GC of TotalEnergies (US)

Matthews:Our objective is to assist the enterprise obtain its targets with out taking over extreme authorized danger. Our attorneys satisfaction themselves not solely on understanding the legislation, but additionally on creating a deep understanding of our enterprise targets and technique. We interact with our enterprise purchasers as early as potential, and assist them analyze the authorized dangers related to a given matter. We additionally suggest much less dangerous alternate options the place practicable.

PLJ: What is the perfect profession recommendation you’ve gotten ever acquired?

Matthews: Be true to your self, don’t be afraid to take possibilities, and don’t attempt to do every thing completely. That final merchandise is very necessary when balancing being a General Counsel with being a mother to a few youngsters.

PLJ: What recommendation would you give to a potential General Counsel?

Matthews: Attorneys contemplating a General Counsel path ought to view their profession as a marathon, not a dash. Develop a breadth of authorized expertise, both inside your present position or by altering roles over time. Do not be afraid to make a number of lateral strikes to spherical out your expertise, or to tackle a brand new position that doesn’t match a transparent profession path. Say sure to new alternatives.

Opinions expressed are these of the creator. They don’t replicate the views of Reuters News, which, below the Trust Principles, is dedicated to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias. Thomson Reuters Institute is owned by Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.

Thomson Reuters Institute

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REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol