Canadian Lawyer Magazine Features Alice Abbott
Alice Abbott brings global exposure, compliance, and regulatory background to GPS Capital Markets
Pairing her legal experience with an MBA has also allowed Abbott to understand the pressures on a business and the mechanics of a company.
“Having that business education really helped me as I moved into working as in-house counsel to really understand the company – not just providing legal services to the company – but also understanding how and why they did things, and maybe also how things can be improved,” says Abbott.
“Adding global exposure to my skillset does make me somewhat of a rare bird, having in-depth experience in foreign exchange and then having business experience, regulatory experience, and then getting global exposure,” says Abbott. “I think that does make me really useful to a company like GPS. I’m just as likely to be advising on a regulatory matter in Singapore as an HR matter in London and a licensing matter in the US.”
As global general counsel, Abbott has been tasked with providing all manner of legal advice in every jurisdiction, including HR, labour, regulatory, commercial litigation, and corporate secretarial work.
“It’s like running a general practice for a single client who is in multiple jurisdictions,” she says. “I’m also creating regularity around documentation and processes that involve legal agreements with counterparties.”
No stranger to building a legal department from scratch, Abbott is currently focused on building up the visibility of her solo department, to become a trusted internal resource for all internal and client-facing legal matters.
“This is a very patient, risk-conscious and sensible company, and I just want to help them meet their goals, and I’m hoping to give them the confidence to take on a wee bit more risk to be able to expand.” says Abbott. “I’m hoping to unlock more of their potential and unleash the ability to seek more profit, seek more markets and just be able to be creative in what they offer to clients.”
As the company’s first in-house lawyer, Abbott is careful to take time to listen to the client without judgment, to understand why they do things a certain way, before proposing a new strategy.
As she continues to learn the ropes, Abbott appreciates the gentle and respectful culture at GPS.
“It feels really good not to be fighting for credibility, and to have the processes that I’m putting into place respected and supported,” she says. “It’s really nice to have such an easy entry – especially as a woman – because female executives are often slightly at the child’s table of executives, but with this company, I don’t feel that way whatsoever.”