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Daily Mail and General Trust Group appoint new upper level in-house counsel jobs

Posted by: Laurence Simons 16/08/12

New company secretary recruited as part of corporate restructure.

Former Freshfields lawyer and Reuters general counsel Claire Chapman is set to pour her curves into a new role as global general counsel and company secretary at the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) group.

As The Lawyer reports, Chapman will take a 'light touch' approach to overseeing the gamut of legal departments across the DMGT group in both the UK and overseas, as they fend off variously being sued by TV psychics, amateur photographers and overly active footballers. She'll act as company secretary; too, making sure everyone tows the legal line and lives up to their corporate responsibilities (rather than, like, taking phone messages and making weak tea).

Chapman is set to build on previous experience as combined general counsel and company secretary at automotive distributor Inchcape, moving to a Group that oversees the publication of the Daily Mail, Metro and Mail Online, as well as the regional division Northcliffe Media. She previously spent 22 years at Reuters, including several years as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) general counsel, before spending the past five years with Inchscape. Also she was at Freshfields once.

But who is being cruelly elbowed aside to make way for Chapman's appointment? Nick Jennings. Well, not elbowed: the chartered accountant previously occupied the company secretary half of Chapman's new combined role, but will take voluntary redundancy in December following 24 years of service to the Group.

Chapman's appointment and the resulting cruel elbowing comes after a tumultuous year of restructuring for the Associated Newspapers legal team, after long-standing legal chief Harvey Kass left the newspaper group following two decades of Fleet Street funtimes during which the publishing industry got variously challenged by free newspapers and the internet and also 'Lord Justice Leveson'.

As a result, the legal department split into two separate entities, with the commercial team being headed up by Dan Feldman and Spencer Davis while the editorial team is led by Liz Hartley.

The high-power move is a rare one, being as it bucks the trend identified by Laurence Simons (you know) (you know who Laurence Simons are) this month. According to analysis, one in seven lawyers reporting their frustration at the lack of top-level progression at firms clogged up as fewer partners retire leading to fewer partner jobs becoming available.