Covering all the bases

"I have not followed every opportunity that came along in my career," says Thomas Werlen, general counsel of Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis. "But in hindsight I was right not to, and I have also been right about the opportunities I have pursued." Werlen is referring, in the first instance, to the offers he passed up in the 1990s as a junior lawyer with New York leader Cravath Swaine & Moore to move into investment banking ("short term, it would have been great money; long term, it would have hindered my development as a lawyer") and, more recently, to his decision to leave Allen & Overy's (A&O's) London office three years ago to take up his current position.

Novartis GC Thomas Werlen talks to Alex Aldridge about the overhaul of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s legal team, its external law firm relationships and escaping the billable hour

“I have not followed every opportunity that came along in my career,” says Thomas Werlen, general counsel of Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis. “But in hindsight I was right not to, and I have also been right about the opportunities I have pursued.”

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