As the winner of the ‘M&A Team of the Year’ at the 2016 Global Counsel Awards, we asked Pablo Aguilar Albo, general counsel of Cinépolis, his opinion on what it takes to be a successful in-house counsel, the best way to advise senior leadership and what winning the award meant to him and the team.

Describe your current role (responsibilities, size of team, structure).

As the global general counsel of Cinépolis the team is in charge of all legal aspects of the company worldwide. To date, there are 29 people in the team, of which almost 50% (14) are women, including the company’s associate general counsel). Almost all of the team is based in Mexico, but lately we have been growing in other territories where local operations make it necessary.

What led you to a career in-house?

In a firm you focus on a specific branch or sector of the legal profession (eg, M&A, loans, compliance or litigation). I have always thought that working as an in-house lawyer gives you a chance to get involved in in all kinds of different matters, and that is something I find interesting and enriching.

In your current role, what is the most challenging situation that you have faced? What are the most significant challenges that in-house lawyers are likely to face over the next few years?

The most challenging situations for me are always those in which the company’s impeccable reputation is questioned by malicious claims. It is not always about money.

I believe that over the next few years, the most important challenge for in-house lawyers will be dealing with and adapting to regulatory change.

Are there particular types of legal issues that you routinely refer to outside counsel? And what kind of matters do you tend to handle in-house?

We generally work with outside counsel only for big acquisitions and syndicated credit agreements in jurisdictions other than Mexico, or for material litigation matters. We usually handle all other matters internally. We have created a very ‘hands-on’ culture in the general counsel’s office.

What do you consider to be the essential qualities for a successful in-house lawyer?

I believe that that capability to spot issues and a business oriented attitude are vital. In-house lawyers should learn to master a healthy equilibrium between these two.

What’s important for in-house counsel to consider when advising senior leadership?

They must clearly identify the real issues to be considered by senior leadership when taking a decision. Many times what appear to be big problems (‘showstoppers’) end up being just smoke. In-house counsel help senior leadership to identify which issues are real and which need not be considered in the decision-making process.

If not a lawyer, what would you be?

No doubt I would be a doctor, most probably a paediatrician.

What did winning a Global Counsel Award mean to you?

I am very grateful to the International Law Office, the Association of Corporate Counsel and all of the Global Counsel Awards team. It is one of the most important awards that an in-house lawyer can receive and it means a lot to our company, and particularly to all the lawyers in the general counsel’s office.

The purpose of the Global Counsel Awards is to identify those in-house counsel, both teams and individuals that excel in their specific roles. The primary aim is to reward lawyers for demonstrable achievements across the full spectrum of in-house responsibility, not simply those who have acted on high-profile transactions. To make a nomination for the 2017 awards please click here.  

For further information on the awards, please visit