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May 9

A Q&A with Maaike de Bie, GC at easyJet

Legal Career Tips

sophie gould

sophie gould

May JLL Follow-up Blog: Q&A with Maaike de Bie

For the latest instalment of our Junior Lawyer Lunches, our very own Sabina Gabrielczyk, Account Management Associate at Flex Legal, hosted a fabulous Q&A session with Maaike de Bie, GC and Company Secretary at easyJet. The chat was full of amazing insights for any junior lawyers early on in their career, so we’ve taken the time to pull together our favourite takeaways from the day. Take a read to learn all about Maaike’s legal career so far, and what skills she believes have been key to her success throughout this journey.

Maaike de Bie, GC and Company Secretary of easyJet

Maaike is the Group General Counsel and Company Secretary of easyJet. She obtained her legal degrees in the Netherlands (VU in Amsterdam) and Canada (McGill in Montreal) and is qualified to practise as a solicitor in both New York and the UK. Maaike started her career in private practice in New York, moving to London 6 years later where she has held a number of senior in-house legal roles at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, GE, EY and as Group General Counsel of Royal Mail, before her current role at easyJet. In addition, Maaike has trained as a coach; and uses these skills both professionally and personally, as well as being a trustee for Blueprint for Better Business.

Here’s a handy summary of the key insights Maaike had to share with any junior lawyers who are keen to take the vital steps needed to progress and succeed in the legal industry…

What are the key differences between working as a lawyer in private practice vs. in-house?

Private practice lawyers are in “the business of law” - you sell a product at the heart of the company. Whereas for in-house roles, this isn’t the case. A lot of people might not understand why their company has a legal department. When you go in-house it’s not good enough to say that you’re a lawyer – you have to articulate value and know how to communicate the value you bring. Your colleagues aren’t interested in the law, they just want to know what they can and cannot do.

When you go in-house it’s not good enough to say that you’re a lawyer – you have to articulate value and know how to communicate the value you bring.

Maaike de Bie, GC at easyJet

What are the main cultural differences between law firms in the US vs. the UK?

It depends – in the US in the early 90s, law firms were very customer-focussed. Whereas, on the flip-side, London in the late 90s felt very old fashioned, and businesses felt better looked after when their law firms were American.

Have you found the skills you’ve gained throughout your career to be transferable across various roles?

My stateside training was very client-focused – which really helped. The most important thing is to always know your client, and understand your colleagues. Don’t just go into “solutions mode” and start solving problems. Spend time with your colleagues, listen, empathise, and know what they’re trying to achieve. In-house lawyers can often be seen as the enemy, who colleagues come to at the last moment. You want to engage with your colleagues early to ensure that they understand you’re with them and for them, and want to help them achieve their goals.

In-house lawyers can often be seen as the enemy, who colleagues come to at the last moment. You want to engage with your colleagues early to ensure that they understand you’re with them and for them.

Maaike de Bie, GC at easyJet

How does climbing the ranks through a business affect these relationships?

Relationship building is key. People are more likely to hear you out once they know if they’ll be sued or not. They just want to know the details – so get good at “doing law” on powerpoint slides.

What can our community of junior lawyers do to brush up on their transferable skills?

As a member of the O Shaped Lawyer, led by Dan Kayne, I strongly believe in the importance of empathy and listening. Lawyers are trained to be experts, and generally won’t say anything unless they’re certain that what they’re saying is correct. When you’re working in-house, you’ll often find yourself in meeting rooms feeling the pressure to avoid “shooting from the hip” and not speaking unless you know all the facts on a case. My advice is to be comfortable with having a view and taking a standpoint, even if you don’t have all of the information in front of you.

My advice is to be comfortable with having a view and taking a standpoint, even if you don’t have all of the information in front of you.

Maaike de Bie, GC at easyJet

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