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The Commercially Minded General Counsel


Thomas Gemmeke of RölfsPartner, a sponsor company at the marcus evans European Corporate Counsel Summit 2012, discusses the importance of commercial thinking and a multi-disciplinary approach in the legal market.

Interview with: Thomas Gemmeke, Partner and Attorney-at-Law, RölfsPartner


Clients need Counsel to deal with all aspects, not just the legal issues, says Thomas Gemmeke, Partner and Attorney-at-Law, RölfsPartner. Costs can be saved just by hiring one law firm that handles both legal and commercial matters, he adds.

From a sponsor company at the marcus evans European Corporate Counsel Summit 2012 taking place in Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, 7 - 9 October, Gemmeke reflects on the increasing complexity of law and how a commercial thinking Counsel can better meet client requirements.

How can European Corporate Counsel issues be addressed?

Legal complexities and responsibilities are currently increasing. As a result, European General Counsel have to be aware of changes in domestic and international laws. A multi-disciplinary approach should be taken, where law firms hired by General Counsel are responsive, commercially attuned, know the local market, laws and issues relating to tax and the balance sheet. This results in added value and reduced costs.

What are some of the legal risks that companies in Europe are facing?

Recently compliance issues have grown in importance. A system of ethics should be implemented within organisations to avoid non compliance. Many new rules have also been introduced into the capital markets that increase legal complexity in many European jurisdictions. General Counsel have to balance legal security versus commercial security to reduce these risks, especially in these difficult times.

What knowledge is needed by companies working across different cultures and jurisdictions?

They need to know the compliance rules in each relevant jurisdiction. It is very important for managers responsible for the local business to implement the right culture of assets and compliance. By hiring a preferred firm for each jurisdiction, with deep knowledge of the local market, a structure of ethical standards can be put in place and, in many cases, a negotiation advantage built.

How should Corporate Counsel be involved in the planning and implementation of business initiatives?

A commercially minded General Counsel should be considered as a solution provider and not as a problem raiser. When this is established, Counsel will automatically be involved in business decisions from the very beginning and are in a position to lay down the legal framework for the initiative.

What is the future of the legal services industry?

Long-term relationships between clients and law firms will decrease. Service performance will factor into the future existence of this collaboration. Corporations are beginning to look for industry expertise and ask for reference lists from law firms. The more added value they receive, the more loyal they will be. When law firms do not cover the most prominent issues and just stick to their traditional areas of expertise, then clients will look elsewhere for their legal needs. Hence, law firms with a multi-disciplinary and entrepreneurial approach will prevail in the legal services industry.

Contact: Maria Gregoriou, Journalist, marcus evans, Summits Division

Tel: +357 22 849 400

About the European Corporate Counsel Summit 2012

This unique forum will take place at the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin, Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, 7 - 9 October 2012. Offering much more than any conference, exhibition or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The Summit includes presentations on managing global legal risks, legal sourcing options to control costs and deliver excellence, building influence and credibility for the legal team, monetising the patent portfolio and promoting the flow and sharing of legal knowledge across the organisation.

For more information please send an email to or visit the event website at

marcus evans group - legal sector portal

The Legal Network – marcus evans Summits group delivers peer-to-peer information on strategic matters, professional trends and breakthrough innovations.



Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

About RölfsPartner

With 700 partners and employees at eleven offices across Germany RölfsPartner is one of the leading German integrated law, tax, audit and consulting firms. Domestic and international publicly listed corporations, family owned businesses and financial investors entrust their most important legal issues to our hands and minds. Clients particularly appreciate our commercial insight, the knowledge of the German market and the innovative, target-led and entrepreneurial approach.

About marcus evans Summits

marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit

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