General Counsel Interview Series – Katrina Dick, Head of Legal – Commercial, UKTV
For the latest of our General Counsel interview series we talk to Katrina Dick, Head of Legal – Commercial at UKTV, the media company that broadcasts the Watch, Dave, Gold, Alibi, Eden, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home and Good Food channels. Through these channels, the company reaches a staggering 42 million viewers every month and distributes to over 200 territories around the world.
Katrina jointly heads an overall team of 18, eleven of whom are women and co-manages the team with Jocelyn Pappenheim (Head of Legal and Business Affairs). Both Katrina and Jocelyn report into the company’s Executive Director of Commercial, who sits on the executive leadership team. “Unsurprisingly for a media company, there is a very immediate need to much of the work,” she explains.
Katrina is one of an increasing number of private practice lawyers to move in-house. Before taking up her current role in 2012 Katrina worked at Hogan Lovells and Fieldfisher.
Those that make the move from private practice to in-house usually express a clear preference for one. Katrina has enjoyed both her time in private practice and in-house. She has found the work itself to be quite similar, the main difference is the working environment and the interaction with the business. “At UKTV, the people I work with tend to be of all ages and experiences and I really like the exposure I get to such a broad range of thinking and approaches. We sit in a fully open plan office and meet regularly with colleagues throughout the company enabling us to navigate our way around the business.”
For some of the work Katrina and Jocelyn draw on the experiences of private practice lawyers, using three main law firms for commercial work, litigation and other specialised work, such as trademarks. They also instruct counsel direct. She says: “We’re looking for law firms that can make our lives easier – it’s not just understanding what the legal needs are but what the business needs are and how the industry works. I prefer to talk about relationships with individual lawyers, rather than firms. We’re looking for lawyers that show a real commitment to helping the legal team deliver to the business which means being able to provide a pragmatic, not just technically perfect legal advice.”
UKTV operates in a fiercely competitive market that also brings some unusual challenges: “The media world is ever changing and I don’t expect that to slow down any time soon. We also operate in a complex environment that means our customers, such as Sky, can also be our competitors. So there’s a great deal of complexity to our work.”
Unsurprisingly, increased competition and the complexity of the work has seen an increase in the size of the company’s legal team and Katrina says she expects some further growth.
This largely matches the experiences of the rest of the in-house market. A recent study reported in-house legal departments having grown by one-third in the past year, with 65% of departments expecting further expansion by 2016. The study said the increase was “…a sign of growing confidence”.
Katrina cites the variety and proximity to the business as important factors in attracting new talent and expects the growth for in-house legal teams to remain for the foreseeable future. Yet she is quick to point out that like most things in the legal services market, things go in cycles: “I am sure there will be a point in the future where this trend will reverse, but for now we see the continuing development of in-house teams.”