ASSOCIATE GENERAL COUNSEL
Maxine Finding is Norstella’s associate general counsel. Her team provides legal support for the company’s various businesses, advising on topics ranging from contracting and negotiation to intellectual property (IP) protection. Maxine helps lead the effort to integrate and standardize legal processes across Norstella’s five brands.
Tell us a little bit more about your role.
Essentially, I cover any legal requests that come into our team, from reviewing customer contracts to negotiating leases for new offices to researching IP concerns. For example, if we’re launching a new brand, we’ll help determine what elements should be trademarked, or figure out how to get protection for a new logo. I’m based near London, and the U.K. legal team—several lawyers and contract managers—all report into me; we also have an equivalent team in the U.S.
How did you join the company? What in your background brought you to pharma?
In 2017 I joined a company called UBM, which was an events company. When UBM was acquired by Informa, I became the head of legal for all of the intelligence divisions, which ranged from maritime and financial intelligence to pharma intelligence, which was the largest business. As I spent the majority of my time working closely with our pharma team, I got to know that market quite well. When Informa divested its Pharma Intelligence division and that division became part of Norstella, it was a natural progression from my duties there to my current position.
What does your day-to-day usually look like?
The first thing I do in the morning is check my emails to see what issues have cropped up overnight. As my remit is global, I’ll have messages that came in from the U.S. late at night or from APAC, which is nearing the end of its day. I check if there’s anything urgent which requires an immediate response, and I connect with my team members depending on the business’s needs.
We’re supporting a few large initiatives across Norstella, so there’s always ongoing work on those projects. I might talk to the product teams about new solutions we’re planning to launch, figuring out whether there are any legal considerations we need to address. We’re also getting involved in the operational side of how we develop and automate new customer terms, and how we train the sales team in these new requirements.
What are some of the larger projects you’re working on?
Since the Norstella merger, we’ve been working diligently on making our contracts and legal processes more consistent across our five brands. Instead of five very different processes, we’re creating a Norstella approach to contracting and implementing new systems to house our contracts.
Another major project related to our integration is the effort to consolidate and streamline our IP protection. Previously, we had five different sets of IP advisors and five different storage locations. We’re trying to understand what’s in place, identify the gaps, and establish a central repository and a standardized approach to how Norstella will handle brand protection moving forward.
What are some of the challenges of your role?
My major challenge is probably a common theme across the business: too many emails, too little time! As you would expect in a fast-growing company, there are lots of initiatives that require legal advice fairly early on in the process, which can result in heavy demands on our team’s capacity at times.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
Excellent question! I would say being involved in the sale of Citeline by Informa. We had lots of meetings in New York with the ELT, trying to separate all of the assets and arrive at a strategy for the new company. That was a really interesting time, and it was exciting to participate in those discussions and decisions.
Which company principle resonates most with you?
Definitely integrity, truth, and reality! Those virtues speak to me as a lawyer. Integrity is really important, both when dealing with our customers and internally. We must be able to stand behind our products and believe in them; we must do what we say we will. Ensuring that we don’t overstep any lines is an essential part of a legal team’s function. People come to us to ask if they can or should take a certain action, or if that is pushing it a bit too far; part of our role is to draw those lines.
What would you tell someone just starting their career with Norstella?
As a business, we’re experiencing a lot of growth and going through a period of rapid changes. With those changes come a whole host of opportunities. It’s a really good place for listening to different ideas and being open to ideas coming from all levels of the business. At Norstella, you can really make a difference to how you want the company to operate.
What do you like most about working at Norstella?
I really like the people and my team. We all have good fun together. Everyone’s friendly, and we all support each other when we get stuck in at busy times. Honestly, it’s just a really nice place to work!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have two children, ages nine and six, so they naturally take up quite a lot of my time…mostly in a good way! We travel as much as we can, and I enjoy playing tennis, going for a run, and seeing my friends as often as possible.
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