at a minimum, when I get down there for the
face-to-face meetings, it seems like an unending
stream of people coming in to visit and talk,” he
says. “There’s something about the face-to-face
connection that people enjoy.” After the first day
or two, things typically settle down.
The new litigation team structure and AFA
program has been a success. McCue can’t go into
exact numbers, but he can say that the company
cut external litigation spend by about 30 percent.
“When we had our first full year of results, we
were really happy, but you’re thinking ‘it’s only one
year’ and you don’t want to get overenthusiastic,”
he remembers. The team maintained the savings
over the second and third years and the company
knew that its approach with the AFA program
was producing results. “We’ve focused [our firms]
in on what is really the necessary work to be done,
and they are staffing up to the appropriate level
and being as efficient as they can,” McCue says.
“So, it’s been a really good change for us.”
Getting off the island
McCue didn’t start out with a grand plan to run
the strategy arm of a global litigation practice
for the sixth-largest company in the world. All
he wanted to do was get off his beautiful island
home. Growing up in Victoria, on Vancouver
Island, just off the coast from Vancouver and
north of Seattle, he knew he had an obligation
to go to university, in part because his father
was a history professor. When he was in high
school, he decided the best course of action
would be to follow his older brother’s path,
which meant going to law school. By the time
he was enrolled at the University of Calgary, he
had more coherent plans.
After three years of undergraduate work
studying English, he got a good enough LSAT
score to enroll in law school at the University of
Calgary. While in-house positions did exist back
when he was studying, he wasn’t particularly
aware of them. His plan was always to join a firm
after law school.
Litigation was a natural fit for the opinionated would-be lawyer. During his second year
of studies, he was given a position at the Court
of Appeal in the court of Queen’s Bench in
Calgary, the equivalent of clerking for federal
court in the United States.
As a junior associate at Fraser Milner Casgrain
LLP, he remembers being approached by a senior
litigation partner for a task and how important
he felt it was to make a powerful first impression.
“The quality of what you deliver on that first
piece of work really shapes how your relationship with that particular partner would develop,”
he says. It’s something he tries to do to this day.
When he moved to Shell, he was reinvigorated
by the challenges of a new industry, and later, the
challenges of helping to manage a global litigation portfolio. It’s why being an in-house lawyer
is a good strategy in itself. ACC
BY JOSHUA H. SHIELDS
Getting to know… Gordon McCue
WHEN YOUR WORK’S OVER, WHAT’S YOUR PASSION? WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
I’ve got five kids so typically my passion is whatever they’re into at the moment. It’s a lot of sports
and outdoor activities for the most part, which coincidentally I enjoy. I still have small children or
smaller children at home, so it’s busy!
WHAT TYPE OF SPORTS ARE THEY INTO? ARE THEY SKIERS?
Yeah. So, my boys are into basketball, volleyball, and any sport really. My daughters are into
music more than sports, but they are all very active in outdoors activities. All of them are
enthusiastic downhill skiers, and they also like to hike and fish. We live on a lake here in Calgary
and we get out kayaking and swimming and fishing during the summer months, and then ice
skating, playing hockey, and going skiing during the winter.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIME TO READ A BOOK OR ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?
I’m not reading anything right now. The last non-work-related type book I read was
A Man Called Ove. It’s a fantastic book.
TIPS & INSIGHTS
ACC EXTRAS ON…
Your Company’s Cross-Border Litigation Risks
Learning to Avoid
Costly Wage and Hour
Class Action Litigation
Research Roundup: IP
Litigation Forecast from
Deanna Kwong of HPE
Avoid the Budget Blowout
Legal Costs in Dispute
Resolution and Litigation
ACC HAS MORE MATERIAL
ON THIS SUBJECT ON
OUR WEBSITE. VISIT
YOU CAN BROWSE
OUR RESOURCES BY
PRACTICE AREA OR
SEARCH BY KEYWORD.