Interview with Hank Rouda
Global Legal Post: What was your career path into the luxury marketplace?
Hank Rouda: I’ve been in retail for almost 30 years and started on the real estate side. I have been a General Counsel for both developers and retailers. It was in these positions where I developed a more general and counselling expertise. This is the first luxury retailer with whom I’ve worked.
GLP: What are the most pressing issues for luxury 2020?
HR: If you are referring to legal issues, then privacy is probably the biggest issue facing retailers. Also, dealing with the California specific issues are taking an increasingly large amount of time and effort. Finally, we are continuing to face legal challenges to our on-line efforts without any guidance from the federal government as to how to proceed in a safe and compliant manner.
GLP: Have you come across any worrying legislation in the past year or coming up which will adversely impact brands?
HR: Privacy laws in the US are exploding and are creating a wide variety of issues for all retailers. The patchwork nature of these regulations are not only not protecting the individuals but they are adding costs and uncertainty on the parts of the retailer. Congress’ lack of national legislation leaves everyone open to potential conflicts and creates the certainty of ever increasing class action lawsuits. We need a unified and intelligent national standard that truly protects the consumer while allowing the business to interact with their clients in a meaningful manner. The GDPR provides a reasonable blueprint from which to start. Frankly, simply copying the GDPR makes the most sense as that would create one set of privacy regulations that will apply to the vast majority of retailers in the world.
GLP: What is the role of the legal department in developing a sustainable business?
HR: If we’re doing our job correctly, we are interwoven in the fabric of the company. This means that we’re part of the planning and strategic efforts for all parts of the company. The worst thing that we can be is just the “problem people”. Rather, we should be in the room and an integral part of the conversations when decisions are originally made. A close relationship with departments such as HR, IT/IS, real estate are especially important.
Hank Rouda will be speaking about Luxury In-House Counsel: Protecting Luxury Fashion Brands alongside Paula Barnes, Senior Counsel, Macy’s, Inc, Ava Farshidi, Assistant General Counsel, David Yurman and Derek Morales, Director, Brand Protection Counsel, Ralph Lauren Corporation at the Luxury Law New York Summit. See the agenda HERE