Canadian Lawyer InHouse

December/January 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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12 www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse GC PROFILE AS VICE PRESIDENT, legal affairs, general counsel and ESG lead at Major Drilling Group International Inc., Andrew McLaughlin is adept at handling a wide variety of legal issues. Having been the sole lawyer at the Moncton, NB-based international drilling services company for five years, McLaughlin is accustomed to navigating employment matters, litigation and acquisitions, in addition to compliance and anti-corruption, but one of his strongest passions is leading an environ- mental, social and governance program. Major Drilling entrenched an environ- mental, social and governance strategy into its framework some time ago, with more recent endeavours including tracking and reporting carbon dioxide emissions. Since McLaughlin was named as the point person for the organization's global ESG efforts in early 2020 following a pitch to the CEO, he has taken the program to new heights. "Our challenge really was to formalize and consolidate our efforts under an overarching ESG framework that could apply across our global operations," he says. McLaughlin led the development of the framework during the early part of the year, and it was approved by the board in June 2020. The framework involved establishing an ESG policy and a Developing a robust ESG program Andrew McLaughlin reveals his strategy and motivation for making Major Drilling Group a leader in environmental, social and governance matters committee of seven other team members from a cross-section of diverse geographic and operational areas. The committee is in the process of developing an ESG repository, which McLaughlin describes as a "critical piece of the framework." "We really want to make sure that we're focusing on metrics and indicators where we can have an actual impact out in the field," he says. The committee developed an external communication plan through which the ESG story can be shared with various stakeholders. "It's been a really interesting journey," says McLaughlin. "I think we're definitely a leader as one of the few public companies in New Brunswick on the ESG front, and it's an exciting opportunity for us to serve as a role model, both in the province and also in the industry." General counsel are ideally suited to work on ESG initiatives, according to McLaughlin — in part due to their position as strategic and trusted business advisors with a direct line to corporate leadership and in part due to their skillsets. "Given the nature of our work [as in-house counsel], we're intimately involved in drafting corporate policies, standards and working on issues of legal compliance, governance, human rights, anti-corruption, diversity and risk management," he says. "These are all very much at the heart of an overall ESG framework, so there's a real alignment there." McLaughlin was drawn to Major Drilling five years ago, after completing a six-year stint as a diplomat with Canada's foreign service, which involved spending three years "With organizations like ours that are spread across the globe, there is a real risk that the legal department can get lost in the shuffle and that compliance obligations could fall victim to this out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome."

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