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Spotlight on Olivia Mackie - Associate General Counsel at Babylon

Olivia Mackie joined Speechly Bircham in 2014 as a trainee pre-merger and now works as an in-house lawyer at Babylon Health. Read her insightful Q&A about her experience working in-house and why the transition to being an in-house lawyer was exactly the right move for her.

Read her insightful Q&A about her experience working in-house and why the transition to being an in-house lawyer was exactly the right move for her.

Q. Tell me a bit about your time at Charles Russell Speechlys

I trained at the firm, originally joining Speechly Bircham in September 2014 and then the merger happened a couple of months later. During my training contract, I did seats in Property Litigation, Corporate, a secondment to Debenhams and then Commercial. I qualified into the Corporate team and worked there for a couple of years, mainly focussing on M&A and private equity work. Working in the Corporate team meant that I had a lot of exposure to other teams in the firm, which helped develop my general legal knowledge.

During my time in the Corporate team, I went on a four month secondment to Farfetch, where Holly Sage works, also an alumni. Working with Holly there made me realise I wanted to be an in-house lawyer, particularly in fast-growing, tech-based company. I really enjoyed the culture and fast-paced way of working, as well as the variety of the work. It was very eye-opening and made me realise there are many different ways and environments in which to practice law. It was my secondment experience at Farfetch that triggered me to make the move.

Having made a move in house and realising the importance of the relationships you build over the course of your career, I think law firms have a part to play in supporting lawyers who want to go in-house by putting them in touch with the right people. It’s beneficial to all to have your alumni working at interesting companies, so it’s great that Charles Russell Speechlys are focusing on this and building the Alumni Network.

Q. What has your career journey looked like since you left Charles Russell Speechlys?

I went straight in-house and started working at Babylon. I've been there for fifteen months now.

Q. What do you love about your current role?

So many things! Firstly, I really enjoy the variety of work. In any one day I could be negotiating an AI licencing agreement, working on investor matters, dealing with data protection queries or advising on regulatory aspects of our international expansion – the role is unbelievably broad and keeps me interested.

I have also found it really beneficial working with in close contact with people who aren't lawyers, but are incredibly talented in their own fields of expertise. For example, I often work closely with our Managing Director of NHS Services, who previously worked in 10 Downing Street advising on healthcare strategy. You meet such intelligent people to leverage off. They often think and work differently way to the way I do and I’ve benefitted from learning from people who have come from different professional backgrounds.

Another thing I really enjoy is that I have been able to help shape the way that the Babylon legal team works with the business generally, and how it has grown over time. When I joined, I was the second lawyer in the business and now there are ten of us globally. I worked closely with our GC on what roles we hired for, and who we hired. We now have an awesome team with really broad experience in place, including data protection, IP and employment specialists. It has been great to have that ownership over the team you're working in and I think that's quite rare in this stage of your career. Overall, it's been really interesting being in a fast-growth, rapidly scaling company and being able to shape the way the legal function works.

Q. What does the future look like? Do you see the potential for different opportunities?

I have a lot more time to spend at Babylon, we're in an exciting trajectory and I don’t want to get off the rocketship (as our CEO calls it) now! We closed our Series C funding of $550 million in August, which was a great milestone and means that we are now valued at $2 billion. I’d love to be able to work through the entire lifecycle of a successful VC backed company with Babylon.

Aside from my future at Babylon, being here has opened my eyes to a lot of new opportunities. In the future, I think it would be great to work for another early stage tech company and apply everything I have learnt at Babylon. I now have experience of building a legal function and taking a company through funding rounds as well as the day to day challenges working in a fast growth company brings.

Legal tech is also something that excites me. The Babylon legal team are always looking for agile ways to work and use legal tech so I do always keep that option in the back of my mind as the legal tech industry grows. Babylon is at the forefront in redefining the way that people view and consume healthcare services, so it would be really brilliant to be able to take that knowledge and apply it to a disruptive company in my own industry.

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