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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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Member in the Spotlight: Virna Trout

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 Virna Trout, Head of Legal for the Australia/Asia Region at FLSmidth, President of the Queensland Committee and a member of the 2022 National Conference Programming Committee.

Tell us about your current role.

I’m Head of Legal for the Australia/Asia Region at FLSmidth. FLSmidth is a Danish listed company that operates worldwide and supplies technology, process knowledge, fixed plant equipment and services to the cement and mining industries. I manage a small, (but mighty), legal team and consider Legal’s key role is to be a risk mitigator to the business. Legal protects FLSmidth’s interests and competitive advantage by advancing its strategic direction; managing current, future and emerging risks and providing timely and proactive legal support for all commercial projects.

I am also the President of the Queensland Chapter of ACC Australia, a member of the Board of Directors of ACC Australia and a member of the National Conference Programming Committee. I can’t wait to welcome you all to our awesome in-person conference, in my hometown in November.    

What do you believe is the most important skill an In-house lawyer needs? 

A natural curiosity – to mitigate risk you need to ask lots of questions and be prepared to challenge the business.   

What led you to pursue an In-house legal role?

I qualified as a solicitor in late 1994 and moved to Mt Isa with my soon to be husband, who was also commencing his career as a Mining Engineer. I expected to continue to work for a law firm in Mt Isa, but instead the opportunity to move into an in-house role with Mount Isa Mines Limited (now Glencore) arose. I took this role and have never looked back! I have worked as in-house counsel for my entire professional career, inter-dispersed with some time out of the workforce having three children, moving around four states and one international placement. I am passionate about the resources sector and working to support a business – I have found my niche.    

What advice would you offer to In-house counsel in building relationships with their organisations?

The best way to build relationships with the business is to truly learn the business – ask your colleagues to outline their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They are usually very knowledgeable about their area of responsibility and will really appreciate your interest. Also be genuine – if you don’t know the answer to the question, that’s ok. Go find out. The business doesn’t expect you to be perfect (and neither should you).    

What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an In-house lawyer?

How to truly negotiate a contract – we only learnt the law and how to interpret and draft the contracts. 

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?

IT – when I started, I dictated correspondence and we used fax machines!! Now we are using AI to review contracts.

Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be…

A musical theatre performer. Singing is my other passion. 

I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because…

I truly believe in the ACC Australia value proposition – “by In-house, for In-house”. Networking with like minded colleagues and having access to resources specific to issues faced by in-house lawyers has been invaluable for my personal and professional career development. This is why I joined the Queensland Committee and I would encourage all of you to fully engage with the ACC Australia community by attending social events, CPD sessions, National Conference or joining Special Interest Groups or Committees where possible.