23 Nov 2020

'Fast-paced and ever-evolving' - general counsel reflect on careers working for luxury brands

Senior luxury in-house lawyers express confidence the sector will thrive in the post Covid-19 environment

Akiko Okuma (left) and Louise Firestone

Ahead of the virtual Luxury Law Summit Americas next week (3 December), we asked four speakers to reflect on aspects of their work

Name one key challenge and one benefit of working as an in-house lawyer in the luxury sector.  

Louise Firestone, general counsel, LVMH North America

The challenge and benefit are the same; this is a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry and lawyers need to anticipate the changes in order to be able to counsel clients effectively as the business changes.

Akiko Okuma, general counsel, Vince Holding

Challenge – communicating effectively with constituents with varying thought processes.  Benefit – being enriched by colleagues who have vastly different outlooks and ideas.

Lorenzo Maria Di Vecchio, head of ethics and compliance global, legal affairs director Italy, Christian Dior Couture

The luxury sector is fast, agile and always on the lookout for innovation, so it is crucial as an in-house lawyer to have the same characteristics and to be ready to face new matters every day. Working for a luxury brand presents the opportunity to be surrounded by beauty, art and savoir faire, which is without any doubt a privilege 

What impact did Covid-19 lockdown have on your company?

Rachel Waranch, managing  counsel, Chanel

In March – literally overnight – our offices, like so many others, went completely virtual. It was amazing how quickly everyone adapted and inspiring how much it brought all of us together.  On a personal level, I never imagined that I could ever grow comfortable with ‘camera-on’ – now it’s second nature.

How confident are you of luxury’s resilience to the pandemic? 

Okuma

Luxury has always served a certain sector of the population that is comparatively resilient to drastic macro-economic changes. If we stay keen to their changing needs during this time, I think luxury can continue to thrive.

Firestone

I am highly confident; the luxury sector is all about creativity and innovation, two qualities needed now more than ever.

How can law firms improve their advice?

Di Vecchio

Law firms should think like in house counsel, taking risks as if they were business partners working for the same company

What area of luxury law is growing the fastest? 

Waranch

Digital and data privacy. The world is rapidly changing and the laws are evolving and catching up – definitely a growth area.

Di Vecchio

Retail maintains its central role, but also health & safety and environment as well as compliance in general are becoming key

Who in the legal sector outside your company has most inspired you?

Firestone

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman for whom every door was closed, but who managed to open them all in her own way. She is always a reminder that a sense of purpose, persistence and flexibility can allow you to flourish in your chosen arena.

What are your favourite parts of the Americas to travel to on business?  

Okuma

I like going out west to Los Angeles during the winter months.

Waranch

I am based in Los Angeles, so I love travelling back east to New York City for business… something I have very much missed in 2020.  I lived in Manhattan for almost 10 years, so getting to take in a little bit of the city’s magic each time I visit feels like getting to reconnect with a treasured friend.

Di Vecchio

New York and Miami are the cities of my (business) hearth.

Firestone

In our territory – North America – my favourite trip is to visit our wineries in California; but I am looking forward to any and all travel again.

Luxury Law Summit Americas, a virtual one-day event, takes place on Tuesday 3 December. Click here for more information or email jasmindersoor@globalcitymedia.com to book a delegate place.

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