Canadian Lawyer

May 2024

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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26 FEATURE INHOUSE PROFILES HEATHER PLATT COMPANY: Metrolinx TITLE: Chief legal officer Creating an efficient commercial management practice According to Heather Platt, the chief legal officer at Metrolinx, the need for a formalized approach to establishing a robust commercial management practice became apparent around 2016–2017. This was driven by the demand for commercial acumen and legal expertise and was an evolution significantly impacting the organization's structure, fostering cross- functional collaboration and timely legal involvement in projects. "We are a complex public agency, and there's a need for a lot of commercial acumen in what we do," Platt says. Metrolinx initiated the development of commercial management teams across business units to address the gap. This model ensures that legal is involved at the right time, overcoming the inherent challenge of in-house lawyers having to determine when to engage in a project. "We liken it to a stool with three legs," adds Platt, "where the business unit is the seat of the stool, but commercial management, procurement, and legal are the support functions that enable success to happen. We've found that when those groups work together ... people are in the right place at the right time with the right information. What we've noticed on the enterprise side is that so much of what we're doing is not business-unit specific. We've built the function within the business units. The next stage … is looking at it from an enterprise perspective." This expansion aims to recognize the complexity of the environment and better support cross-functional projects. For instance, when opening a new rapid transit line, considerations extend beyond the business unit's accountability to encompass fair payment systems, integration of Presto, and marketing team involvement in ridership and revenue analysis. "It contributes to the long-term financial health of the organization and enables us to deliver what we need to deliver," she says. MATT ROSSETTI COMPANY: adidas Canada TITLE: Director, legal counsel Changing the narrative to present legal as a business enabler After starting his legal career at Goodmans LLP, Matt Rossetti knew early on that he wanted to transition to an in-house role where he could be more deeply involved in the business throughout the entire lifecycle of each legal matter rather than moving from client to client. He also wanted to be seen as a business consultant and a legal expert. "Lawyers often have good judgement, rational thought, and a clear way of communicating, so the business often wants to get your view on something that may not be a strictly legal question," he says. After six years with Goodmans, where he developed his skills in employment and labour law as well as corporate law, Rossetti applied for a position at adidas Canada through LinkedIn, and the rest is history. He joined as the first lawyer in the Woodbridge, ON-based Canadian office of the company five years ago, establishing the legal function from scratch, which involved building up trust from all departments. "Being the first lawyer in the building, there was some skepticism from the business because they weren't sure what to expect, and legal is often seen as the department of 'no'" he says. "Along with my global adidas colleagues, I'm trying to change that narrative and make sure we communicate to the business that legal is your friend. We like to say at adidas that we aim to enable and protect." As a director and legal counsel at adidas Canada, Rossetti is responsible for all legal and compliance matters in the Canadian market, covering a wide range of issues. His broad scope includes everything from endorsements and sponsorships agreements to employment and labour matters, as well as commercial sales and distribution agreements. He navigates sports marketing, privacy, litigation, legal tech, and insolvency and restructuring matters.

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