A quick chat with...
Benjamin Jacobs, General Manager, Legal - M&A at Xero & ILANZ Committee Member
How long have you been on the ILANZ Committee for?
I joined the ILANZ committee in May 2020
What do you hope to achieve as a ILANZ Committee member in the year ahead?
I believe passionately in connecting in-house lawyers and would love to see ever increasing interaction between members of the inhouse community.
What do you do?
I’m the GM, Legal - M&A at Xero. That’s a fancy way of saying that I, and my team, are responsible for all legal aspects of the M&A activity Xero undertakes.
What do you like most about your job?
I absolutely love being at the heart of delivering on Xero’s exciting growth strategy. I also love being part of the purpose and values at Xero - and seeing them in action on a daily basis. It’s amazing how truly and deeply embedded they are within the organisation.
What is a career highlight so far?
Qualifying as a New Zealand lawyer! After practising in the UK for the first 17 years of my career - and 20 years after swearing I’d never take another exam - I found myself at the University of Auckland sweating over constitutional, tort, trusts, land, criminal and contract papers! It was phenomenal to pass those exams, and then go through the admission process - getting dressed up and formally admitted in court is not something people do in England but really gave me a sense of achievement!
What are some challenges or issues that you think in-house lawyers are facing today?
Being asked to do more with less. Law is increasingly complex and even small businesses face complex regulation at home and from unexpected overseas sources like GDPR. At the same time, this complexity often gets in the way of the real value add that I think in-house lawyers can bring, which is proactivity - leading within their organisation, seeing the issues before they become issues, and steering around them.
What are some fallacies that you have heard about in-house lawyers?
That all we do is work 9 to 5 writing terms and conditions! It couldn’t be further from the truth and I hugely enjoy the deeper connection to, and relationship with, the business that comes from advising one organisation from the inside.
What are your hobbies?
I’m not sure I’d call having children a hobby, but they do take up a lot of my spare time! Besides that, though, I love photography as well as cycling, rugby, formula 1 and (being a good lawyer) reading.
Anything else you would like to add?
ILANZ is there to represent all in-house lawyers and I’d love to hear more from the wider in-house community about what they want from ILANZ and their committee.