In this new “Client Spotlight” series we will explore how our clients have found their experience of working with Johnson Hana, and will elicit candid feedback on how they feel about our services.
First up is Rosie McAnlis, General Counsel at Citi. Under Rosie’s remit, Citi have been engaging a team of Johnson Hana consultants since summer 2022.
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational investment bank and financial services corporation headquartered in New York City.
Citi manages total assets of circa US$2.417 trillion (as of 2022), and it is led by Jane Fraser, who in 2021 became the first woman CEO of a Big Four bank.
Citi’s operations in Belfast have expanded rapidly since the office first opened in 2005. A hiring blitz at the end of 2022 aimed to bring the headcount to over 4,000 across the four campuses the bank has in Belfast.
About Rosie McAnlis
Rosie joined Citi in 2014 and currently serves as General Counsel and Head of IP & OT. Prior to this Rosie worked for nine years as Senior Counsel for Aviva and three years as a Corporate Solicitor for Eversheds.
Rosie was awarded her LLB from Trinity College Dublin in 1998, before completing Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University Belfast in 2000.
How did you first hear of Johnson Hana?
I’d heard of Johnson Hana previously through a colleague who had mentioned what you were doing, and as a business we frequently need an augmented resource, and don’t necessarily always want to farm it out to a law firm. Often, we find we’re happy to work on the technical aspects of it and don’t just want to expand the headcount for a limited project.
Interestingly, though, it was one of your whitepapers that first spelled out exactly how we could use your services, as the project we were reviewing at the time was on the new SCCs. [Standard Contractual Clauses, required by the Schrems ii decision. You can read the whitepaper here: johnsonhana.com/replacement-standard-contractual-clauses/]
That whitepaper was so useful because it showed the technical piece of it, and then we saw a webinar you held on the new SCCs and that gave good insights because it showed you’re approaching it from an operational perspective, but also seeing it from the clients point-of-view as well. And that’s really valuable in helping us when we’re thinking through what we really need.
The whitepaper therefore showed us that you were aligned with our thinking, and that we weren’t going to have any initial hurdles to get over in terms of how we think this particular question should be answered. So, effectively, we could read through the whitepaper and say: this is exactly what we want to achieve.
Prior to working with Johnson Hana to you have any preconceptions/ what did you imagine working with us would be like? And did this differ from what you found during the engagement?
So, we hoped and thought we’d be getting an augmented resource, and that is because we wanted to bring somebody in who would work alongside our team and effectively blend into the team for the period of the particular pieces of work that we needed.
However, what I think actually happened is that we ended up in more of a partnership than we expected it to be.
We did anticipate that you would be well organized, in that you would have services offered in a standard, set model. But in reality we really did get that partnership up from the outset, which was brilliant.
And that was really, really helpful to us as it enabled us to effectively expand our team very naturally and very quickly for the period of the project, which is exactly what we needed.
I suppose we thought it would be a Johnson Hana Consultant sitting alongside us in a box, and that they would take some time to get going. Whereas what we actually found, and I think it’s because you understood our aims at the outset, was that the team integrated very, very quickly and that Johnson Hana were very adaptable and flexible as the projects evolved.
We also realised quite early on that we had lots of different needs, and that’s where Johnson Hana stood out. As it transpired, it wasn’t just the junior resource on the SCCs project, we also had resource gaps at a more senior level that we needed assistance with, as well as an M&A project.
So those were three very different resource needs that, at the outset, we weren’t entirely sure that Johnson Hana would be able to provide. But, again, you did really well and although we had three very different problems, Johnson Hana could offer a solution for each with the right consultants that completely met the need.
I think that was really impressive, and we were just very appreciative of the listening, and the partnership, in terms of what our requirements were elsewhere, and of the efforts made to match the projects with the consultants that were put forward.
You mention the consultants being a good match for the range of different projects, was this a big concern for you, prior to the engagement?
It was, and it’s something that I wanted to call out to praise. One of the consultants, very early on, that was put forward, wasn’t the right fit. But Johnson Hana listened, made the effort to think about what we were looking for, and very quickly an alternative was found that suited perfectly.
I think the strength of the team that you have on your roster is fantastic as well. Across both the more junior team and the more senior ones. They just “got it” very early on and understood the impetus behind the projects.
We actually had one guy who was such a great cultural fit that he ended up doing a presentation to our global legal community on soft skills! He spoke on personality types and the legal profession, and we got such great feedback on his presentation, it really was incredible.
So just finding the right people for us is something that you’ve done fantastically well. As clients it’s something we’re buffered from, but I don’t underestimate how much work actually goes into that process, which is another burden that’s taken off us. Lisa [McCarthy], Sean [O’Reilly], and Amy [O’Dowd] were all amazing.
It sounds like you’ve had a great engagement with Johnson Hana, which is fantastic, but what would you identify as the most significant benefit you’ve felt?
I would say that it’s the effort you make to draw alongside us, and have the conversations about our needs. You don’t just launch into “here’s a quote”, you really put the effort in to understand what goes behind the request, what the actual needs are.
When we’ve talked about this in amongst our team, that’s what has really come out strong. It’s the discussions about the proposals and how you’ve listened to our input on it and then taken it away. And that makes the engagement very efficient and effective.
You listen to what we’re asking for. You take that on board. You ask further questions. And that front-loading really makes a difference to the quality of the consultants that are put in front of us, and their fit. So I think, overall, the number and the quality of the consultants that are put in front of us has been the differentiator for me.
Obviously, Johnson Hana weren’t the only place we approached with an RFP, as we had to follow our own diligence processes and put the work out to tender. We also engaged [a large consultancy firm] who we’ve worked with in the past, but we just found that they were no longer really listening. They were also very expensive and not dynamic enough or adaptable enough.
We definitely find you guys to be much easier to work with on that front. Ultimately, it was the turnaround times that really killed us with them. They just couldn’t get the offering together and their heads around it quickly enough, whereas you guys were very dynamic and quick to understand the task.
We also priced with a couple of law firms, but realised quickly that wasn’t what we needed. We didn’t just want to farm stuff out and get it back, we really needed people to come in and work alongside us, to bolster the team.
That’s interesting, as we often describe the work that we do as being “outsourced” to us, but perhaps you’re saying that’s not really accurate?
Yeah, I suppose it’s funny because, when I think about outsourcing something, I think I “I can’t do that, so I need to give it to somebody else.” And in legal terms that would be “I need an opinion on this.”
Whereas on these types of projects, there’s very little of the work that we can truly just pass over. Ultimately, I am still answerable for the delivery of those projects internally. This is my responsibility, so I can’t just I can’t really farm those things out. I still have to have an overview of it.
So what we need is more of an augmentation of our team, which is what Johnson Hana has been able to provide. There’s also a level of transparency that we just didn’t find anywhere else, which helps us to maintain control of the projects.
So, final question, would you recommend Johnson Hana any other companies considering outsourcing any of their legal process work?
Absolutely we would, and without hesitation.
I think anybody who wants a dynamic solution and something that’s cost effective (because that comes into everybody’s consideration). But most of all, the people are going to be easy to work alongside, and the work is going to be high quality. You’re not going to have to compromise high-quality for low-cost. Anything that we’ve used you guys for, we’ve had a really good result. It’s been high-quality work, high-quality output, with a successful outcome.
So the SCCs project was fully completed, ahead of schedule, within the regulatory deadline, and that was a massive success.
Another reason I’d recommend Johnson Hana is that you flexed really well with the needs of the project. So when we were at a high-volume pressure points in the project, you were able to flex up the resource quickly and efficiently to good standards. And then so flex down again as we were coming in to run runoff, so that that was massively helpful.
Overall, I think it really is the future of legal work.
Every year, in January, we try to forecast how crazy our year is going to be and it always out-crazies the forecast, and that’s the life for an in-house lawyer. You just cannot tell what is coming down the line.
So, for the legal market, what we need is partners we can rely on to be dynamic, but brilliant, which is exactly what Johnson Hana provides.
Please note: The above is a transcript of a conversation between Rosie McAnlis of Citi Bank, and John Champion of Johnson Hana. There have been some minor edits to improve clarity.
About Johnson Hana
Johnson Hana is Ireland’s leading alternative legal solutions provider. That means we disaggregate legal advisory and legal process work, and focus on the latter.
Legal Process Outsourcing – whereby a specific legal process is carved out and outsourced to us
Legal Process Secondments – to augment a busy legal team or fulfil a temporary requirement for an experienced legal professional.
Historically, legal advisory and legal process work were tackled and billed in the same way. This means that all legal work has been as costly and time consuming as legal advice.
It doesn’t need to be.
We deliver legal process work through a combination of innovative legal technologies, robust project management methodologies, and expert lawyers. This approach reduces client legal spend by over 50%, while also providing totally transparent reporting and billing. This leaves our clients free to focus on the strategic, advisory work that really adds value.