Gail Gove, General Counsel at Reuters, recently spoke with Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Litigation (PLJ) about managing a global team of lawyers, the value of safeguarding journalists and journalism, and why GCs need to engage in “ruthless prioritization.”
PLJ: Are there any innovative ideas you have adopted to successfully manage a global team of lawyers?
Gove: I aim to have video meetings whenever possible because they are the closest to in-person communications. I also use chat messaging to stay in touch on day-to-day issues instead of email. Overall, I rely on a regular reporting cadence, which keeps me in the know on all work being done around the world and allows me to focus meetings on high-value work.
PLJ: What issues are keeping you the busiest at the moment?
Gove: My main priorities are ensuring the safety of our journalists all over the world, defending our published content against pre- and post-publication attacks (litigation and otherwise), and defending our journalists’ right to engage in newsgathering. I also focus on supporting our global commercial business and ensuring my team provides it with streamlined, strategic advice to drive revenue.
PLJ: What steps does your department take to safeguard journalistic integrity and the trust and independence of Reuters?
Gove: We review content before publication to make sure it is as bulletproof as possible, and we sometimes consult on newsgathering along the way for sensitive or investigative stories. We work in partnership with Reuters’ Global Editor of Ethics and Standards, Alix Freedman, to ensure we tell all sides of a story and are fair and unbiased in our reporting.
We also consult on post-publication challenges, legal threats, and litigation. These issues can range from simple corrections to much more complicated matters, like the case against our reporters in Myanmar or a recent libel case filed against us by an investigative fund in the UK. Unless we have erred, in which case we work with the newsroom to fix the issue, we stand behind our journalists and their work.
From a commercial perspective, we ensure that the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles, which have long protected Reuters’ independence, integrity, and unbiased journalism, are baked into every deal and that our customers do not change the editorial meaning of our content. We make sure that those who use our stories, pictures, or videos are authorized licensees, and we take action if they are not.
PLJ: What types of issues will cause you to turn to outside counsel?
Gove: Given that we are a global business, we often need local advice. We look to outside lawyers to help us understand domestic regulations and to represent us when we need to appear in courts around the world.
PLJ: What key things does a law firm need to do to impress you?
Gove: A firm should give straightforward, clear, and practical advice. Providing long written work product and attempting to avoid any and all risk are deal-breakers for me.
PLJ: What advice would you give to prospective in-house counsel?
Gove: Ruthless prioritization is essential for success. There is so much to do on any given day, and you really need to focus on the work that drives the business forward. Also, work with people who make you laugh and are true colleagues.
These jobs are demanding, and having a trusted, supportive team makes a world of difference. I am lucky to have that at Reuters.