General Counsel Q&A: Members of the Legal Department Must Be Trusted Business Advisors, Says LaTanya Langley of BIC

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LaTanya Langley, Vice President & General Counsel, Stationery, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and Anti-Corruption at BIC, recently spoke with Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business (PLJ) about her career path and the legal department’s top goals.

PLJ: Can you describe your role and the path that led you to it?

Langley: I serve as Vice President & General Counsel at BIC, one of the best-known international brands in writing instruments, lighters, shavers, and other promotional products. My global responsibilities include managing all legal matters for BIC’s largest business unit, Stationery, and handling anti-corruption compliance globally. I am also responsible for all legal matters in international markets, including Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa.

Prior to joining BIC, I held several positions at Diageo PLC, a global leader in beverage alcohol with iconic brands in spirits, beer, and wine. These positions included Director and Senior Counsel of Diageo North America, General Counsel of Diageo Guinness USA, and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd.

PLJ: What are the top goals or areas of focus for the law department?

Langley: Our legal department’s top goals include:

  • Utilizing technology.
  • Emphasizing career mapping and development.
  • Training our business partners.
  • Identifying outsourcing opportunities.
  • Measuring performance with advanced metrics and tools, such as external partner scorecards.

In addition, we built an interactive employee resource, called BIC Speak Up, and partnered with Human Resources to create targeted online and live trainings. These trainings reinforce the culture and values of our company.

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LaTanya Langley, Vice President & General Counsel, Stationery, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and Anti-Corruption at BIC

PLJ: How does the law department avoid being perceived as the “office of no” while still ensuring it helps the client avoid liability?

Langley: Members of the legal department must be trusted business advisors. We develop goals that align with business goals and objectives and we employ initiatives to empower the business. Focusing on these goals as a team results in the positive perception of the legal department as a client-service oriented partner.

PLJ: If not an attorney, what would you wish to be?

Langley: I would be a performer or choreographer. I like to bring people together to accomplish a task that feels good, solve the mystery, prevent the tragedy, save a life, or find the romance in life’s challenges.

PLJ: What book has influenced you the most?

Langley: A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson has influenced and inspired me to become a fearless leader and to help develop the gifts and talents of others. I found one of Williamson’s most powerful quotes to be, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

PLJ: What advice would you give to a prospective General Counsel?

Langley: Be sure to master your craft, sharpen your soft skills, and build your network. Focus your energy and efforts on actively pursuing all the best networking avenues that are at your disposal. These connections will ultimately lead you to your General Counsel role.


Read the full interview in the November issue of Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business.

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