Home » Events » 2021 Annual Awards Gala » 2021 Annual Gala Co-Chair Spotlight: James Ford, GlaxoSmithKline

2021 Annual Gala Co-Chair Spotlight: James Ford, GlaxoSmithKline

James Ford is Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel for GlaxoSmithKline and a member of the Corporate Executive Team. He is responsible for supporting GSK’s strategy by leading its Legal and Compliance department in matters such as protecting the company’s intellectual property; managing litigation; supporting business development transactions; and supporting business compliance, investigations, corporate security and risk management.

Ford joined GSK in August 1995 and has held several roles in the company, including General Counsel Consumer Healthcare, General Counsel Global Pharmaceuticals, Vice President of Corporate Legal and Acting Head of Governance, Ethics and Compliance. He assumed his current role in August 2018.

Ford was President of ACC Singapore 2016-17, and is currently a Co-Chair of the Civil Justice Reform Group in the US and a director of the European General Counsel Association. 

He is a member of the US Association of General Counsel. During his career at GSK, he has been based in London, the US and Singapore. Prior to GSK, he was a solicitor at Clifford Chance and DLA, in London and Hong Kong.

Ford holds a law degree from the University of East Anglia and a Diploma in Competition Law from Kings College, London. He is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales, and is an attorney at the New York State Bar.

About GSK Legal Pro Bono
GSK defines pro bono legal services as “providing volunteer legal services at no fee to a person of limited means or to public service and/or charitable groups/organizations.” These services may include direct representation of clients or representation of groups and organizations that help the less fortunate. Pro bono aligns with GSK’s broader goals of building trust and investing in the communities where they live, work, and operate. Legal professionals working for GSK believe they can use their unique skills to give back to their communities through pro bono legal service.

Background information on GSK’s Pro Bono Program
The GSK pro bono program was originally established in 2005 by a small group of lawyers. In 2015, GSK Legal began to record and report metrics for the US program. Over the last several years, under the leadership of General Counsel, James Ford, GSK Legal expanded the program globally and funded the purchase of global malpractice insurance. The key to the program’s global reach was the formation of the Global Pro Bono Committee, which meets quarterly with members from around the world. Colleagues in London and Singapore took the lead in initiating GSK’s first non-US pro bono projects. The program is now open to all members of the GSK Legal department (lawyers, paralegals, specialists, and support staff) and all qualified lawyers employed by GSK.

GSK Legal reports on annual metrics related to pro bono within the legal department. Between 2015 and 2020, GSK donated over 2987 hours of legal services and served more than 538 clients. In April 2021, GSK’s US Legal Department signed on to the Corporate Pro Bono Challenge® initiative, which includes a commitment of encouraging at least one-half of US-based attorneys and staff in the Legal Department to participate in pro bono.

GSK Legal’s pro bono projects in 2021 include:

  • “Anti-Child Marriage Legal Guide” created in partnership with Baker McKenzie and participants from GSK in Australia, Singapore, and Thailand
    • Volunteer attorneys provided legal research on anti-child marriage laws
  • US-based Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) birth certificate project
    • Aid homeless clients in obtaining key identification papers to qualify for housing, benefits, etc.
  • Innocence Project – includes volunteers from UK, Europe, and US
    • Legal research project to help vet clients for possible release from penal institutions due to actual innocence

PBI is grateful to James and GSK for their pro bono leadership!

Click here to read about PBI’s other Annual Gala Co-Chair, Sharon Ryan.