General Counsel of Dura-Line Corporation, Lucie Grant, takes some time out during lockdown to tell us about expanding her remote legal team; the Orbia Group’s mission to contribute to a better world; and the world’s first corporate logo whose shape changes each year according to business performance.  

How did you come to be a lawyer?

Through a sheer lack of curiosity. I was relatively bright and did three “arts subject” A levels and our school careers service was very traditional. Law seemed like a natural fit for my then limited skill set but in all fairness, I had zero clue at the age of 17 as to what actually being a lawyer entailed.

What factors made you choose to work at Dura-Line Corporation?

Dura-Line is part of the Orbia Group of Companies; our mission is to advance life around the world. We have a vision to build our company to succeed in delivering products and services to enable people to live and thrive by developing solutions for food and water security, infrastructure resilience and essential and transformatory digital products and services.

The vision that Orbia has for the organisation it wants to be is what drew me to Dura-Line. I want to spend this next stage of my career working hard to achieve purposeful aims. In addition, I have been given the opportunity to build a legal function from scratch which is just about the most exciting thing I can think of for an in house lawyer.

What’s good about working there?

Honestly, it’s the people. That may sound trite, but it’s absolutely true. I have found a group of supportive, intellectually stimulating, enthusiastic changer makers both within my business and within the Global Legal Function. Sheldon Hirt, GC of Orbia, is a phenomenal leader and I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with him. Last but by no means least, my fabulous remote legal team of Victoria Lepore, Ciaran Price and Alice Harrison of whom I could not be prouder and who make working here so much fun.

There is no typical day; we shape the days as we need to to provide the service our business deserves in a way in which works for my team and their families.

How is Dura-Line developing and what role does the legal department play in that?

We’re an incredibly successful conduit manufacturer with some incredible clients. We need to capitalise on our strengths in order to achieve our aims of becoming a global digital service provider. We are on a journey to harness our strengths whilst developing new skills and new technologies to increase our global reach and our value.

Our in-house legal function is critical in the development of these new skills and technologies whilst mitigating our enterprise risks. We are building out our capabilities in order to do just that.

How has the organisation helped with your career development so far?

Dura-Line is enabling me to build a legal function to truly serve the business and our customers. I have incredible support from within the business and within the Orbia group to achieve our aims.

Can you tell us some more about the Orbia group and the positive impacts it is having around the globe?

Orbia is on a transformation journey to become a future fit, purpose led and customer centric journey. We are a collective of companies working together to tackle the world’s most complex problems bound by a common purpose, to advance life around the world. We do this through connecting, empowering and supplying communities with data communications, pushing sustainability to regeneration, making our food supply chains and our water resources more resilient, helping to feed the world sustainably.

Through our community of companies, we are working hard to make our goals reality and measuring our activities through our ImpactMark. The ImpactMark is the first corporate logo in the world which will change every year according to our progress. It puts our long term commitment to people, planet and profit front and centre. Our ImpactMark will be changed every year and its three loops will indicate the past three years. As we do better, the lines will progress outwards as we strive towards achieving our aims.

You’re hiring a Corporate Counsel through us at the moment. Can you give people some more context to that?

The Corporate Counsel EMEA role is my next step in building a global legal department from scratch, having already been incredibly lucky to have been joined by Victoria and Ciaran to help shape our journey. This is a remote working role which reports into Ciaran my Assistant General Counsel for EMEA.

As well as providing a truly excellent service to our business, I really want to build a function which serves the individuals within it; we hire adult professionals and treat them as adult professionals which means no micro management, but support when needed, opportunities to shine and receive recognition and fun; fun is essential!

What aspects of the role make it particularly attractive for someone considering a move?

Quite apart from the opportunity to work with our fabulous team, this is an opportunity to join our journey at the start and be part of a movement to build something great.

Here you can be part of shaping our legal function; we operate as a true team, no hierarchical behaviour, everyone has a voice and a role to play in achieving our success.

Who’s been the most influential to you in your career?

To quote Amanda Gorman, “I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in”. I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by brave, bold, clever women from my father’s mother who escaped Nazi Germany to my mother’s mother who having been forced to leave school at 14 went to University at the age of 72. They taught me that obstacles are there to be vaulted and that it’s never too late to learn.

What practical advice would you give to someone looking to join the legal profession?

Understand your motivations and your skill sets. There is no getting away from the fact that any job in the legal profession is hard work; I have all the respect for those of our colleagues working in the criminal and family sector who really are up against some of the hardest of times given government reforms. It is a satisfying and mostly intellectually stimulating job but think hard about what the industries of the future might look like and how that will affect our profession – what skills will you need for a digitalised legal profession which will use AI and machine learning to do many tasks lawyers do today. What can you specialise in that cannot be automated and where can you as an individual add value to your prospective clients?

What was your first non-legal job?

I had a variety of shop jobs, restaurant jobs and bar jobs. I’ve worked on makeup counters, served pizza and pulled pints, served cocktails and done the full gamut of kitchen jobs. I spent a decent period of time managing a restaurant in Australia when I was young which is still the hardest I have ever worked.

Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?

The thing about lifts is that, by and large, there’s always someone who doesn’t adequately deoderise, so that would be a natural concern in this scenario.

There are very few people in the world that I’d be keen to be stuck in a confined space with. You never know who has a secret agoraphobia issue; I mean, you could be in there with the reincarnation of Coco Chanel herself, promising you a free, gratis selection of the handbags of your choice and she still might need to breathe into a paper bag. Stressful.

If you could spend an hour with anyone the world of business, politics or entertainment, who would it be?

I’d probably go with a combo of Michelle Obama and Oprah. My sense is that this would be a great chat. I’d have a laundry list of things I’d want to know but my last question would be, when the chips are fully down, what keeps them going?

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Doing nothing. Literally nothing. This happens so infrequently it’s become my unicorn. Sitting in my battered old Eames chair, preferably in pyjamas (I’m a firm believer in Karl Lagerfeld’s assertion that the purchase of sweat pants is a sign you’ve given up on life; I don’t do leisure wear) with enough time that I can put on a facemask without being interrupted by James the Amazon Guy ringing the doorbell.

What song was No1 when you qualified?

In what can only be described as a crime against music, Will Young and Gareth Gates murdering the classic “Long and Winding Road”.

Favourite film or play?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I will never not enjoy this film. Plus, I had a strong yearning for Mia Sara’s white leather jacket slouchy boot combo.

Favourite gadget?

My lime squeezer! It’s an essential tool for the prepration of my favourite drink.

Favourite restaurant?

So many. I’m a massive fan of L’Enclume in Cartmel. Such a treat.

Favourite holiday destination so far, and where next?

I love New Zealand. Had some fantastic times there but I also have a special place in my heart for New York. Currently, I’d welcome a trip to Skeggie if it meant I could leave the house!

Your default tipple is…?

Grey Goose, fresh lime juice and soda. Never without a bottle of GG in the freezer.

Most annoying phrase you’ve heard in the work place?

There are so many…

“Can you get your arms around this?”

Usually not, unless I’m Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four.

“Can you talk to this subject?”

No, I can’t; I can talk about it but I can’t talk to it.

I will, however, admit to polluting Dura-Line with the phrase “getting our ducks in a row”; there are now flocks of them across the company, in various states of linearity!