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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Linh Tran

Member in the Spotlight allows us to get up-close and personal with some of our ACC Australia members. This week we are shining the spotlight on Linh Tran, Legal Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at The Arnott’s Group, and winner of 'Mentee of the Year' at the 2020 ACC Australia Corporate Lawyer Awards.

Tell us about your current role.
I am currently Legal Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at The Arnott’s Group. With my Legal hat on, I support the business on a diverse range of matters, including (almost!) everything from IT procurements to exporting Tim Tams around the world. I get just as much variety wearing my Compliance hat – I have developed our compliance management framework, and have responsibility for drafting company policies, implementing training, dealing with compliance incidents, and reporting to the Board’s audit and risk committee on compliance activities.

What do you believe is the most important skill an in-house lawyer needs?  
There are so many important skills, but versatility is one that springs to mind. As an in-house lawyer, particularly in international businesses, I’ve always had to deal with a broad range of issues, individuals and cultures across most business functions. Being able to flex to meet the needs of stakeholders of different backgrounds and expertise on a mixed bag of issues in any given day is pretty key!

What led you to pursue an in-house legal role?
I actually started my career in-house at SBS, which was a little unusual at the time. I had worked at SBS as a web programmer to complete the practical component of my Computing Science degree, and this opened up an opportunity to try my hand at the law with Lesley Power and her then small Legal team of two lawyers. I was involved in some of SBS’s major transmission deals at the time, which was very exciting for me as a junior lawyer straight out of uni – it was the best first legal job I could have asked for. I was thrilled to take on my current role at Arnott’s as I love all things food and am proud to be contributing to the growth of such an iconic Australian brand (especially as we move into the “better for you” space!). 

What advice would you offer to in-house counsel in building relationships with their organisations
Try to get involved in as many different aspects of the business as you can, including by working on projects outside of your legal remit. The more involved in your organisation you are, the more opportunity you have to establish and strengthen relationships with others, develop trust, and understand individual working styles and preferences so you can engage most effectively with them.

What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an in-house lawyer?
How to tread the sometimes fine line between legal advisor and commercial decision maker. There’s no single path for every context – where you land can often depend on your organisation, the team or individual you’re working with, and the matter at hand.  

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?
This may be stating the obvious – flexibility in the way we work, (and not just due to COVID, but also diversity and inclusion evolving as a business priority, as well as technology). While this change is also true for other sectors, I think it’s had a particularly positive impact for legal professionals who have traditionally been associated with working long hours in the office. A connected change is that, thankfully, we are using a lot less paper!

Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be…
A food critic!

I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because…
It’s a great way to connect with others in the in-house legal community, recognise and reward each other’s achievements, and keep up with legal developments through seminars, newsletters and the resource library.


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