Have clear communications
Set scope and expectations
Be professional and competent
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Crytal Ball Answer
Marlene Gebauer 00:06
Welcome to The Geek in Review, podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 00:12
And I’m Greg Lambert. Marlene, we have a very interesting couple of guests from a corporate legal team whose company designs technology to improve the corporate legal team’s overall processes. So Tim Parilla, chief legal officer and Juliette Kopecky, Chief Marketing Officer at LinkSquares joins us to talk about how they deal with outside counsel, in house legal teams, and how they balance their roles as not just leaders at LinkSquares, but also as customers of LinkSquares as well. But first up, we have an answer to our crystal ball question from Stuart Dodds, Principal at Positive Pricing and a Legal Value Network board member. So let’s hear from Stuart first. And then we’ll jump into our conversation with Tim and Juliette.
Stuart Dodds 00:59
Hi, Greg, my role as a co founder and board member of LVM, I get to see quite a lot of different things, I also see a lot of different things in my role as a consultant with positive pricing. And the themes that are coming up again and again, I think are two or three fold. Firstly, this issue about expectations, I think within the league law firms, particularly about sustaining the levels of profitability that they’ve had over a number of years, and how they can best do that, while keeping very much focused in mind, the issue of delivering superior client value, so how can they continue to strong performance? But how they can they continue to meet those changing client expectations? I think that comes on to the second point, which is where do we find those people from? How do we build the skills and capabilities and a lot of firms certainly, I’m saying, are beginning to invest very, very heavily in training their partners are trading their associates and training as you those key business professionals who are having commercial conversations with our clients about how to do that better, how to be having much more of a conversation, having much more of a collaborative discussion about what to do. And therefore trying to work out what are the best ways that we can help our clients be successful, both at an organizational level, at an individual level? And also potentially, how are we better placed than other firms in our respective markets? I think that’s another challenge that sort of links into also, where are these business professionals coming from because we see a much broader range, particularly those here here at LVN. And it’s great to see so many different people, you know, we’ve got pricing professionals, what legal technology professionals, we’ve got data scientists, we’ve got legal project managers, you name it, the list is endless. And that’s a very, very specific skill set. And a lot of it is actually hard to find. So how can we as firms begin to grow that capability, make sure there’s a progression those individuals need. But also remember that a lot of this is about changing behaviors. And people, particularly those who are very senior in firms are, let’s be honest, a little bit sometimes set in their ways, they’ve been very successful, they are very successful. And they were successful doing certain things in a certain approach. We’re asking them to fundamentally change what they do tomorrow compared to what they did today. And that takes a very different skill. It’s around change management is around empathy. It’s around engagement, and it’s around patients. And I think sometimes we also need to have maybe suits of armor just to protect us from the bricks that may be coming our way. But I think being able to service and meet expectations, client and internal is a key challenge. I think there’s also the issue around how do we build that skill and capability internally, both from the fee earning population, the partner population from the business professional population, and also we see this and again, LVN is a great example of this, from the client perspective, how do they make sure that they’re getting the right value from their firms?
Greg Lambert 03:35
Right, let me let me follow up because you were saying about finding the right people. Law firms especially tend to want to have people who have practice come in and do operations. Is that kind of the benchmark? Is that a requirement for operations?
Stuart Dodds 03:53
I think I’m a bit biased. I mean, I came from a management consultancy background. And we would have, if I, if I’ve used me, as an example, I was a supply chain consultant, I supply chain strategy, and a procurement strategy. And I did a little bit of project management on the side because that’s what you were you’re required to do, to be able to deliver successful engagements to your clients. But if it was a very, very big complex project, we would get the specialists in project management to do that. It didn’t matter that they didn’t know what a truck was or what a warehouse was, or what a purchase order was. At the end of the day, I’d rather get the experts that are very, very good at doing something to drive those process changes because that’s what they’re skilled and that’s what they’re trained in, rather than somebody who is trying to do it on a best endeavours basis. Now, I appreciate that not everything justifies that investment in that special skill set. And for those other things, yeah, best endeavors. maybe it’s good enough or best endeavors with a little bit of training and coaching and support. But that support has to come from those experts. The fact that I didn’t practice law, the fact that many very successful pricing legal project management legal technology people did not practice, is irrelevant because that’s not what you’re hiring them for. You’re not hiring them for their legal expertise. You’re hiring them for their process skills expertise.
Greg Lambert 05:05
Thank you very much.
Marlene Gebauer 05:08
We’d like to welcome Tim Parilla, Chief Legal Officer at LinkSquares and Juliette Kopecky Chief Marketing Officer at LinkSquares to the show, Tim and Juliette, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Juliette Kopecky 05:18
Thank you so much for having us.
Tim Parilla 05:20
Thank you, Marlene.
Greg Lambert 05:21
So, Tim, I know you were at DraftKings before joining LinkSquares I really kind of I’m very curious about that endeavor. Because I think that must have been both very interesting, and at the same time, very challenging. As a company that, you know, as, as in house there, you’re working your way with an online sports betting company, and how did you approach your work there? And, you know, there just had to be so much risk management that you had to cover?
Tim Parilla 05:52
Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s a good question. It was really, it was an incredible experience, I first started doing work with the company, and there were fewer than 20 people there, just helping them review some contracts. And then eventually, you know, over the course of let’s just call it six months or so, getting to know the team and the management there. Was brought on full times companies first in house counsel, and at the time, it really wasn’t a sports gambling company. And I know if anyone familiar with the situations would recognize that fantasy sports are a game of skill, which means it’s not really a betting company or a gambling company, as far as a legal term of art is concerned. But that being said, we definitely had regulatory issues associated with that. And we had to design products in such a way where we were able to demonstrate that skill was the factor that determines the winner in each of these contests. And a lot of the first two years that I was working with with DraftKings, it was just like any other high growth startup, you’re raising money, you’re doing a lot of commercial deals, brand awareness, trying to gain market share, trying to gain customers. And it really wasn’t until October of 2015, when some of the regulatory issues really started to come to a head. And you know, at that point, we had already done our due diligence, as far as what the law says, and how our games were structured and how people interacted with our games, when we were very confident in our legal position and every jurisdiction where we operated. You know, at that point, the risk management becomes a little bit different, I guess, when when you think about it, in terms of knowing that you’re right on the law. And by the way, we were proved right, in every single jurisdiction, either through legislative action, obtaining legislative clarity, or looking at what I was really happy about the decision coming out of the Court of Appeals in New York, probably about six months after I left the company in 2021. And so that was like a huge exclamation point. And really, I think everybody in the industry felt vindicated by that decision. So it was great. So the risk management actually really came down moreso to understanding how long you could continue to be effective and run your business with that sort of external regulatory pressure. Right, right, that uncertainty, and we’re able to navigate that well. And you know, I’d like to say that it was me really guiding that ship, but credit where credit is due, of course, Jason Robbins, Matt Kalish, Paul Lieberman, Tim Dan, the rest of the exec team. They were the driving force behind the success. And I was just sort of trying to spin plates and make sure that, that I gave him enough runway so that they could take off once we get, you know, these regulatory issues put put to bed.
Greg Lambert 08:50
Well, you know, and I was curious, because at the time, you were talking about brand awareness. And you couldn’t turn on a sports channel without, you know, every third commercial being a DraftKings commercial. So there was definitely a lot of brand awareness. So I was just curious as as an in house person, would you be saying, Man, it feels like you’re trying to put a target on our back by just putting our name out there so much. I thought it’d be very interesting to be on that in house legal team during that time, because it was such a big growth period of time.
Tim Parilla 09:25
It really was. And I think, you know, I think it’s important. This is something that I that I talk a lot about in different thought leadership forum. As an in house attorney, you have to be confident that you’re able to handle controversy at each step. And your you have to be competent, that you can handle risk at each step. So there’s a saying that I think is particularly pertinent for in house attorneys is a saying that I’ll borrow from aviation whereas it’s not the first mistake that kills you, it’s the tenth. So, you look at this in terms of you know, maybe had something going on with privacy or even the regulatory issues at DraftKings. Like, it’s not like one bad decision results in this cataclysmic outcome. But a series of things have to happen. And typically, if you’re running through and trying to manage this in a, you know, in a meaningful, thoughtful way, you have a number of different opportunities between everything’s okay. And worst case scenario where you can find a positive outcome or at least a survivable or reasonable outcome depending on on your situation. And so it really is important, and you think about it, and maybe just the simple litigation contacts you have, you know, okay, maybe you you got sued. Okay, well, that’s terrible. We’ll file a motion to dismiss. You lost the motion to dismiss now go and talk to the other party and you have an evidentiary issues, Discovery issues, go in argue and try to figure out what you can do to gain some advantage and negotiating leverage at that point, and go and see if there’s an opportunity for settlement, or does your case get better? Does your case get worse? He has a summary judgment phase, right and right, use a summary judgment and maybe you’re going to trial now. Right? Or maybe you’re not going to trial and is over for it. But there are different phases in any controversy, where if you’re able to leverage relationships, build relationships, rebuild relationships, and steer the ship in a positive way, where it makes a win win for both parties usually can avoid a worst case scenario.
Marlene Gebauer 11:29
Tim, tell us a little about what LinkSquares mission is. And Tim how life as an in house counsel at a legal solutions company differs from your previous role at DraftKings
Tim Parilla 11:41
sure i LinkSquares mission is to change the way that we will departments operate and elevate the status of the legal function within an organization. And we do that using cutting edge technology that’s specifically geared for and tailored to these the needs of the in house legal department. Juliette? Please tell me if I missed something.
Greg Lambert 12:01
it sounds like you’ve memorized it really well.
Marlene Gebauer 12:03
Does that sound right? Usually,
Juliette Kopecky 12:06
My work here is done.
Tim Parilla 12:10
So in as far as how the role is different than a lot of ways. It’s not, in a lot of ways. It’s kind of the same and fast growing tech startup, really outstanding growth trajectory, incredible user adoption, and continued product innovation. And so the legal issues around that are pretty similar, right? No matter sort of what kind of tech company you’re in, you’re, you’re going you’re raising money, you’re you’re figuring out, you know, the best way to communicate with your customers, the best way to position your product for broad acceptance, et cetera, et cetera. The aspect of LinkSquares that I think is really interesting, is that I’m a customer. Right. And it was similar at DraftKings. But it was, you know, fantasy sports. And so it kind of casually fantasy sports, but like, as an in house lawyer, and that’s what I do for a living, this product is built specifically with me in mind. So being able to have that customer mindset actually puts me into conversations that most in House lawyers in any other type of tech company wouldn’t be a part of it right? The level of involvement with the product teams, the level of involvement with the sales and marketing teams is, I think, much more involved than what you would see in other types of companies. And that’s been really exciting. You know, to be perfectly honest with you a lot of the legal work, the actual substantive legal works, a lot of contract review. And as I said, like different, you know, corporate matters and things like that. It’s pretty run of the mill, pretty plain vanilla. But what really gets me excited to come into the office every single day, is working with the sales team to help to give that that perspective of the customer to work with the product teams to help articulate the problems that our software is purporting to solve. That’s really the most exciting part of it.
Marlene Gebauer 13:54
Yeah, I would imagine.
Juliette Kopecky 13:56
I think like Tim is being too modest here, where obviously, there’s like the legal function that him and his team perform. But I very much so think that the legal team at LinkSquares kind of plays double duty, or even triple duty in some ways where there is a product feedback, you know, I think at LinkSquares, we’re our own best customer. And so much of the input that we get from like a product standpoint, from Tim and his team in terms of how they use the product, how they think about the legal function is such an important piece of that. And then certainly like the relationship that my team on the marketing side has with him and his team in terms of content that we develop, and how do we speak to this audience? How do we think about what legal teams you know the issues and topics that they care about the platforms and things that they read or listen to that partnership that we have and that I know that we spend a ton of time with the legal team in terms of developing out like content that persona, the feedback and input that we got that? I think in many ways like his team plays like triple duty, if not more than that, like in many different arenas?
Marlene Gebauer 14:58
Yeah, I mean, I would imagine being A user of the product, you know, gives an enormous advantage in terms of sort of understanding it, and, and understanding the, you know, and being able to offer the feedback for it.
Juliette Kopecky 15:10
Definitely. And we are so lucky that we have a legal team that wants to do that and wants to be involved and wants to make, you know, the company and our product and everything else even better, and sort of give us those insights and then input.
Tim Parilla 15:24
It’s funny. So when I said that the legal work is pretty like plain vanilla. Like, it’s like, cry in your cereal boring, okay. It’s not, it’s not thrilling work. And honestly, like, so I do an onboarding session for new employees every other week. And I tell them, like, that’s how I was able to convince people to come here is because we’re doing fun stuff, like having a conversation with you all. All of the cool stuff that Molly, that Juliette and her team have us doing is really like that. And the product in the interactions relationship with the business is what makes it fun.
Juliette Kopecky 16:06
Yeah. And for me as like the marketer and someone who runs our corporate communications or PR, I’m very, very happy for him and for like Tim’s team, to have very poor plain boring vanilla work as he calls it. We’re not embroiled in like, scandals, litigation, and all those items. So let’s just like let’s just keep it that way. Right.
Tim Parilla 16:29
Marlene Gebauer 16:30
Exciting lawsuits. Yeah.
Tim Parilla 16:32
We’ll get there Julia.
Greg Lambert 16:36
That’s when you know you’re really successful is when you when you start getting sued.
Juliette Kopecky 16:41
I’ll remember that. The bright side of things.
Greg Lambert 16:45
Finally, we’ve been sued. So Julia, you’ve been at some high power companies before like HubSpot and Datto and Tala? How have those roles in I would say a non legal environment prepared you to come over into a legal tech world company, and Ron, the marketing team there. How do those compare and contrast?
Juliette Kopecky 17:10
I would say, for me, I have a fairly non traditional marketing background. I actually started out my early career working in finance, I went to business school at MIT and did a little bit of a complete like 180 with my career. I’d always been interested in tech companies and startups, and marketing in particular. And I joined HubSpot in sort of the early phases in the company back when that company was about 140 employees back in 2010, which is kind of crazy to think about when you look at HubSpot today. For my career, even at HubSpot, I worked in sales, I worked in product, and I worked in marketing, and then really grow my marketing career from there. And so when I think about my career, I’ve worked in a number of different departments, whether that’s finance, product sales and marketing. And so for me, when I think about how that experience really shaped my career and set me up for success and LinkSquares, I very much so care about that relationship between all those different teams and think about the company goals, and how does marketing support it? And I think from my experience working on the product side, you know, I think a lot about, you know, how do you understand the customer, when I was at HubSpot working in product, I ran the customer research and user testing group, and informing you know, how does our product team like, build a product for customers and take that feedback into account? So very much so when I joined LinkSquares. So previous to this, I had not had experienced marketing to legal teams in particular. But I took some of those things from like being on a product team and doing that research and really understanding the persona, and the user and the buyer, and what is that process? What are the things that you’re thinking about? What are the ways in which they use the product, and really set on sort of like a research mission to better understand it, just knowing that a legal audience like I don’t have a legal background, myself, I hadn’t marketed to this particular role before. But how do I really educate myself in it, and kind of what I was alluding to before, I mean, it’s amazing having the legal team at LinkSquares that we do led by Tim, and we we use them for research into that informs like our marketing campaigns and what we do and what’s going to resonate with our audience. I work a lot with our sales team in terms of understanding like, what’s going to be successful for them. I work with our customer success team in terms of like, which of our customers are really successful, and what is their feedback on the product? And what are the ways in which they’re thinking about it. And so, while I don’t have that legal background, I’m just I would say like, genuinely curious like to learn more about our audience to take all the different inputs. And that’s the thing that I think I’ve taken from my previous experience that has set me up for success here at LinkSquares.
Marlene Gebauer 19:57
So you’ve also focused on DEI initatives there at LinkSquares Right?
Juliette Kopecky 20:01
Marlene Gebauer 20:01
So what does the work on DEI initiatives look like in the corporate environments?
Juliette Kopecky 20:08
If I had to. So I realized that we’re on a podcast and that it’s just audio, I think, like for me for Dei, as a woman, and both a person of color, you know, it’s certainly like a very personal issue for me. And I think for Dei, like if I had to give advice for, you know, other people in leadership roles within corporations, it’s all about how do you make it authentic? And how do you make it meaningful to your employees? So for me, even when I think about sort of the the early stages of us really building out like a dei initiative at LinkSquares. You know, I certainly have like one point of view, and in some ways, like dei is always going to be something that’s personal and has affected you know, me personally, in that, like, I really care about and thinking about, like, how do we shape our culture? How do we shape our approach? How do we put initiatives and plan sort of in place that are going to be meaningful to our employees, but one of the things that I personally have loved at LinkSquares is how much support and sort of ally ship that I’ve gotten from both the leadership and even within our employees, like, this is certainly a topic area that I am even, you know, continuing to educate myself about. And I have certainly one point of view. But it’s also like, how do you make space for people within the company with different points of view, different experiences, and really build out something that’s authentic to employees? And there are a number of different ways that we’ve sort of approached this topic? And how do we build out like true diversity, equity and inclusion within the company, certainly, like within hiring and the ways in which that we look at candidates and that we recruit, there’s kind of no way to build diversity into a company, if you’re not looking at like, are we really taking in, you know, sort of an unbiased approach, looking at ways in which we can build diversity from like a hiring perspective? And then also from like, an employee perspective? How do we give employees from different backgrounds, different experiences? And how do we give them a voice within the company, whether that comes from the hiring process, whether that comes from things like employee resource groups, there are a number of different things that we do across the company to really build this out?
Marlene Gebauer 22:20
Yeah, I like that. You’re saying, you know, that you’re trying to make it authentic for the different groups? Because I mean, that’s really a challenge, isn’t it? Because you have very different groups with, you know, possibly very different needs. So I appreciate that you’re working on that.
Juliette Kopecky 22:33
Absolutely. And there are different ways that we listen to employees and hear different viewpoints, whether that’s through things like our employee engagement survey, whether that’s through like one on ones and ways in which like, we communicate as both like a leadership side with different employees. And I think part of that is like, a lot of companies start dei initiatives, and maybe it just feels like lip service to employees, where they say it’s something that they care about, but they’re not seeing, like the true action and initiatives behind it.
Greg Lambert 23:04
Now, you’ve covered a lot on the internals of DEI, and how you are approaching it, how the employees in the leadership, they’re approaching it, I want to kind of flip that around, how are customers reacting to these types of initiatives? And and are they putting any kind of demands on companies like LinkSquares, to improve the equity parody and inclusion of the companies that they work with? So are you also seeing pressure coming in externally for this?
Juliette Kopecky 23:37
I mean, certainly, I think on all levels, I would say that legal teams, you know, there’s a lot of diversity built in and certainly with the companies in which they work with, and I think at like some level, right, people want to work with engage with people that sort of look like them, or that represent them, whether that’s different viewpoints, whether that’s different backgrounds, all across the board. And there are different ways that we listen to our customers, whether it’s through channels within our customer success team, we actually recently just hosted a customer event here in Boston, where we invited a number of our customers in for a couple days of programming and sessions, and ways in which we hear from our customers and that we listen to them. Also through other things like we hear about ways in which our customers are even thinking about dei initiatives through events that we host like virtual networking nights, which is an opportunity for general counsel’s and legal teams to meet up and discuss topics and you know, sort of a real, honest, meaningful way with with their peers, that we in some ways get to kind of like, learn from and hear from and help better inform things that we do as a company. content that we create are ways in which we can engage with our audience. So there’s some really interesting channels there that we hear both from what our customers want and expect from LinkSquares As a company, but also topics and areas of interest for them how they’re thinking about shaping their own businesses and the cultures within it.
Marlene Gebauer 25:07
So Tim, I’m going to turn it back to you. Now you’ve worked with outside counsel both at DraftKings and LinkSquares, and especially at LinkSquares, where your whole business model is on improving the efficiency of legal teams. And, you know, I always like asking this next question, because, you know, we don’t often get sort of the inside knowledge. So I’m very excited to hear what you have to say here. So when you actually need to work with outside counsel, you know, What expectations do you place on them when it comes to providing effective legal counsel? And also, you know, streamlining the work they do? So they don’t waste their time or your company’s money?
Tim Parilla 25:46
That’s, that’s, that’s a big question. How much time? Do we have? Much time? Outside? Yeah, outside counsel, is? That’s that’s a huge topic, I think, you know, working working in a legal tech company that’s specifically designed to increase the efficiency of your legal function. I think sort of the route of the interaction with outside counsel and efficiency is something that maybe historically has been in opposition. Right? I don’t think that our software necessarily will reduce your need for outside counsel, in most cases, which is, which is good. It will in certain, like project based circumstances, for example, due diligence around you know, any m&a activity, right, rather than having associates go through your contracts and pull out important information, Rei doesn’t does it just as well, if not better. But when you are working with outside attorneys, there’s a reason why right? You need that level of expertise, or you are experiencing volumes of work that your in house team just can’t process on a given timeline, right. So you need some overflow support. So, you know, how do you do that effectively? How do you do that efficiently, I think there are a couple of guiding principles that you need to keep in mind as an in house attorney, when you engage your outside attorneys. Number one is make sure that you’re comfortable with the cost of it. And what I mean by that is at the outset, get an estimate for the work that is to be done. If you’re going to go through a financing, right, like you took go venture financing, have a conversation, say, you know, ballpark, we’re gonna raise x amount, it’s probably going to take us y number of weeks, you know, how much how much in your experience, something like that gonna cost and it’s less about trying to hold the outside attorneys accountable, per se. It’s more about managing the expectations because no one’s gonna give you a guaranteed This is how much it costs. But anybody, anybody who’s who’s worth, you know, who’s worth the amount that you’re going to be paying them to do that work has done it before and has a good idea what the costs are, like I you know, I can tell you at a top tier law firm that a motion to dismiss, in your typical civil litigation contract dispute, or even in a in a class action suit, I can tell you that it’s going to be anywhere between 75 and $115,000. For that fully briefs, motion to dismiss, right, that’s about what you’re gonna pay at the big the big top tier top 10 law firm. And you will get, you know, due diligence around a financing transaction. And same thing, there’s, there’s these categories, depending on where you are in stage of company and your outside attorney, you should have an idea. But what that does is that set some expectations where if it’s looking like their bills are going to be way above that they call you and talk to you. And some of the downside of it is like if it looks like the bills are gonna be way below that, then maybe there might be a little bit of fluff in there. But you’ve, you’ve kind of come to expect that that’s okay. Right? Yeah, predictability oftentimes, is just as powerful as efficiency. So that’s the first thing make sure that you that you establish how you’re going to be managing the financial side of it. Second is how are you managing the communication side of it? When you are communicating with outside counsel? And you’re asking for thoughts on an issue? I’m always very deliberate about I need you to find the answer to this. I don’t want like oh, it should be this or just based on my experiences as like, go find an answer. I need the answer. Right? very deliberate about that. And I’m also very deliberate about I don’t need you to go spend and like do case law research about this, that and the next thing and come back to me in two weeks just partners Senior Associate you’ve had a lot of at bats, where do you think this is gonna come out? Happy to have a phone call on it if you rather that put it in an email 10 minutes, 15 minutes, good. So making sure that you communicate effectively with what you want with each sort of request is also really important. The other thing that I look at with outside counsel, that’s hugely important and honestly can make your life as an in house attorney either really good or really bad is whether your outside attorneys understand why you’re asking the question, like your best outside attorneys, when you ask them a question are going to follow up and say, Okay, your question is this, I get it, unless it’s like painfully obvious that is the issue. It’d be like, what else is going on? Is there something else happening? Is there other context around this that that you want to provide? Because normally, when people ask me this question, it’s actually part of the bigger thing, right, and being able to have that conversation with your outside attorney does a couple of things. Number one, it helps you, once you go back to whatever the source was that brought that question to you. It allows you a little bit more context and a different way to think about it. And quite frankly, as an as an in house attorney, it makes you look like you know what you’re talking about, which makes you look good. Write to your to your business. So you want you want outside attorneys that make you look good. Similarly, you want to make sure that in email communications, the way that people are communicating that your outside counsel are communicating to you is professional buttoned up neat, thoughtful, thorough, like anything that I have that calls for an email response or a document type response, I expect it to be of a certain quality, right. And I’m not a perfectionist, and I’m not going to have a fit about someone having a typo in their emails. But it’s something that I that I think about, right and are like Subject Verb Agreement, like different things like this. All of that kind of adds up. And if there’s something else that shortfalls like, alright, this, is this indicative of your attention to detail, is this indicative of the level of service that you provide? Like you’re not proofreading your emails, you’re not directly answering the question the way that it’s almost like you you’re responding back to my email so that I don’t email you again, like you like I pick up on these things. And as soon as you start to see something like that you have to have a conversation is rarely Will that get better and often just gets worse and worse. Yeah, that’s that’s kind of the way that I think about managing outside counsel effectively and efficiently.
Greg Lambert 32:32
I like that, if I can read that back to you a little bit is you’re saying, you know, have those conversations, set scope and expectation and professionalism? Those are the kind of the four things that really kind of drive the way that you deal with outside counsel.
Tim Parilla 32:50
Yeah. And it goes without saying that that competency, like, you have to make sure that you’re verifying that your outside counsel is competent, a lot of outside attorneys will hold themselves out to be experts in whatever it is, and they’re not.
Greg Lambert 33:05
Yeah, I imagine that conversation and expectations kind of nail those down pretty quickly. And I think that’s one of the things I hear over and over again, is that there’s this inability to have good, clear communication back and forth. Attorneys are notorious for not timely responses to emails or phone calls, things like that, that just just kind of drive outside counsel in any clients crazy.
Tim Parilla 33:33
That’s one of the biggest complaints for attorneys that are reported to the Bar Association’s for violations. Any complaints are usually based around the attorneys failure to communicate effectively.
Greg Lambert 33:45
So Juliette, I’m going to turn the tables. So Tim wants, you know, competency wants communication. He wants to set scope and expectation for his outside counsel now, for you. He’s your counsel. So how do you work with Tim’s group? And, you know, kind of make sure that you’re setting the expectations when you’re when you’re working with him?
Juliette Kopecky 34:12
It’s actually surprisingly easy, I would say for us. I mean, so I think first and foremost, I mean, both Tim and I both sit on the executive team at LinkSquares. And so there’s a lot of work that we do, and just as part of both of our roles and sitting on the exec team in terms of setting out that company vision, what are our company goals and building alignment there. And so when I’m thinking about whether it’s marketing campaigns that we’re working on with Tim and his team, or pieces of it that are part of let’s say, like the legal process, I’ll give you an example. So our teams just came back from a big event that we were sponsoring through the association of corporate counsel. They host their annual event this year. It was in Vegas just a couple of weeks ago, and we did a bit of a takeover campaign. At the event, we had a huge booth, we had some out of home add ons that we did. So the location that it was in Resorts World, actually, the whole front face of the building is a digital screen. And so we did a big ad campaign there. And we also did it in the airport, we also hosted three separate events there, Tim had a speaking slot. So needless to say, to run a campaign and a takeover campaign of that size and scale, there was a lot of contracts that were involved in it. And a lot of contracts, you know, that we, that we kind of had to get in a very quick manner are reviewed and signed and out and sort of budget deployed for them. And so because we have that alignment at an executive team level in terms of like, Hey, we’re doing this event, we’re doing a big spend, these are the reasons why and how they’re going to help the company meet its goals, when it comes down to doing that contract review. And working with him and his team on that. It’s a very simple process, because Tim has a ton of visibility into why we’re doing a campaign like that, the results that we see as a company, and how that should sort of be prioritized. And so when it’s like, hey, Tam, I’m going to be sending over, you know, tons of contracts for your team to look at, I’m going to need these reviewed, you know, over the next couple of days so that we can get everything sort of locked and loaded for that event. He’s like, Yep, totally know why we’re doing it, the teams on it, let me know what you need. And let’s work together on it. When it comes to things like the speaking engagement that Tim did at the event there and like hosted a panel, same kind of thing when my team’s working on him in terms of developing out that content topic, in terms of securing panelists for that event, in terms of working through some of the logistical component, Tim 100% understands, like why we’re doing that event, how speaking engagements help us build out our thought leadership, how it helps us drive business for our team and further engagement with our customers. And so that relationship is just very easy. I think when you have that alignment, and sort of like those goals and why those things are going on. I think for maybe teams that don’t have that luxury, I definitely encourage them to have those conversations, whether that’s with different leadership, you know, whether it’s like your GC and your sales team, whether it’s your GC and your marketing team or your product team, how do you build that alignment overall, in terms of those goals? And I think some of the details, in many ways work out themselves,
Marlene Gebauer 37:21
Tim, I mean, I appreciate it that you set out very clearly like this is what the expectations are for outside counsel, because oftentimes on the podcast, or if we go to conferences, you hear about how outside counsel may think, you know, they they think that they’re satisfying what you want, like they this is what they think you want, versus what you actually want. So, you know, it seems to me that that you basically have those conversations early on to basically set those expectations so that you can avoid that type of thing.
Tim Parilla 37:55
Yeah, absolutely. And oftentimes, in house attorneys are a little bashful about communicating what they need from outside attorneys. I’m not even slightly shy about it. Extremely direct and low press. And I’m not a jerk, but also at a point where I’m paying somebody associates in the $700 an hour range and partners up to $1,500 an hour, I’m expecting something in return. And if I’m not getting something that is of quality, then it’s my responsibility as a steward of the company’s funds to change that. And so I think it’s just you’ve got to be as direct as possible. And, and it’s not, I mean, lawyers deal with conflict differently than then like most like normal humans, right? Conflict is not something that raises your pulse at all. It just is what it is. It’s a way of doing something. And the only time that you find yourself raising your voice or getting outwardly emotional about something, typically you’re doing it for a reason. You’re doing it to accomplish a goal, not because you’re necessarily actually right. Maybe sometimes you are, but it always comes with what am I trying to accomplish first, so so so pushing that conflict with outside counsel, there should be absolutely no concern or and if you’re worried about how your outside counsel might react, then maybe you should change. Change attorney.
Greg Lambert 39:29
Tim, earlier, you had mentioned that you’re not just the in house counsel there. You’re also your client. You’re a customer, you’re a tester, you work with the development team. And so that got me thinking about one of the complaints that I’ve had for years and law firms is that as a law firm, we’re not a software development company yet we we tried to build a number of products internally. And so it makes it really hard. For us, as customers have an internal product to work with our development team, especially when something’s not going, right, because you almost feel like you’re walking on eggshells, you want to point make sure that you point out the five things that are going right before you mentioned the one thing that that is going wrong so that you can keep that relationship. How do you approach that as a customer? And as a essentially, as a beta tester, I would imagine, for the product, how do you work with that development team, to give them critical feedback that they need for the product,
Tim Parilla 40:37
oftentimes, I think the biggest value that that my team and I will bring to that process is being able to articulate a problem. One of the things that I think has made LinkSquares, as successful as, as LinkSquares has been is that the founders approached, building the LinkSquares platform. From a business perspective, neither of them are lawyers. And they experienced relatively painful situation associated with the sale of a company where they both worked, and they said, This is a crazy process, there must be software out there that that can help with this process. And, you know, there, there really wasn’t anything that hit the nail on the head. And so these two business people got together and they said, This is a real business problem. And let’s create a business solution for that problem. And so the platform comes at it from there, I think all of our competitors look at look at the software that they make is seeking to solve a legal problem, right? It’s not actually a legal problem in any in any way, shape, or form. It’s a business issue. And so when I’m interacting with our product team and our development team, what I’m really focused on is on is trying to figure out if they’re asking me my opinion on a particular feature or something, I you know, my feedback, and my questioning of them will be around well, what are you trying to solve for? And is that the right problem to solve for, then we kind of go back and forth. And hopefully, you know, they’ve got a more robust understanding of why the problem that they’re seeking to solve is actually a problem and what else it impacts. And I actually am really conscious to try to not propose a solution. But a lot of people will come to the legal tech area and say, I need this software that does x, right, it needs to manage this in this way. And it’s like, okay, well, what problem are you actually trying to solve? Right? Oh, it’s got to, it has to have like this automatic that and the next thing, like, Okay, well, the actual problem is you being able to meaningfully track approvals of language within your agreement. So let’s figure out how to meaningfully track language that needs approvals within your dream and approval from the CFO or the CTO or the CFO or something like that, right? I really approach it like that, and let you know, let the business people try to find a business solution to this business problem.
Marlene Gebauer 43:12
So Julian, and Tim, you know, you can either tag team on this answer or handle it individually. But we ask all of our guests our crystal ball question. And that is what change or challenge do you see in the legal market over the next three to five years?
Juliette Kopecky 43:29
I might let Tim answer this one first.
Tim Parilla 43:32
So I think there’s going to be an acceleration of adoption of legal technology, from the perspective of efficiency for the in house function. So obviously, there’s already been, you know, sort of mandated adoption of your ediscovery platforms and things like that. But I think what is missing is sort of this software that’s going to help provide quantitative data around the work that in house legal teams are performing. You think about it in the context of law firms. And law, if you’re going to a law firm, you have to learn this software, you got to learn the billing software, you got to learn how to open a matter and associated with the client, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? And you got to track your time and six minute increments as part of your job, you are not doing your job if you don’t know that software, if you’re not using that software, if you’re not tracking your time, but that’s how law firms make their money. In house, legal departments don’t track their time, by and large, and they’re not held to account for the time spent on a particular project, with the exception of is the business stakeholder happy with your turnaround times. Right? At least reasonably so. Okay, so what that results in is a deep prioritization of that organizational framework that you do have in law firms, and there’s no sort of replacement. And I think what What executives are demanding of their legal function now is starting to change. It’s not enough to go in there and go into the executive room and say, I had conversations and everyone’s pretty happy with the way the legal team is operating on to the next. And then Juliet has slide after slide after slide with all of this data about the ROI on, on the initiatives that she’s put together, the content created, leads generated all this and how is just absolutely benefiting the business from propelling the business forward. And then you go to your, you know, your head, your ad product, and same thing, your your ad revenues, same thing as CFO, same thing. Everyone’s got data except for the legal function. And so executives are demanding more than that. But executives are demanding that the legal function show its value within an organization. And I think the only way to do that is not only to buy a piece of technology, you have to buy into that technology, you have to use it, right? It’s like you think about it in terms of Salesforce, for example. Let’s say you had an account executive who on the first day said you don’t want to update Salesforce at the end of the month, how long do you think that person would continue to be avoided that organization, probably about five minutes, right. But somehow on the legal function, that’s okay, you can buy legal software and not use it and still, like be considered a great contributing member of the team. That idea, I think, is changing and has to change. Because the end state of being able to quantify the work that the legal team is doing is what is being demanded by the executives of the legal team. So we’re gonna, because of that, I think we’re gonna see additional tech adoption around how are you running your HR department, and I think there’s gonna be a fundamental shift in the next, you know, three to five years of what it means to actually run and operate a high performing legal function within an organization. Juliette, what do you see?
Juliette Kopecky 47:02
Yeah, and I don’t have a ton of controversy to add to this, obviously, you know, Tim and I, there are bets that we’re making as a company with LinkSquares, you know, in this arena, and how we see the evolution of the modern legal team within an organization and things that we’re doing on the product side to support it. And also like the feedback, I think, yeah, companies that are have, let’s say, that modern legal team, we’re hearing those themes, right, that general counsel’s and chief legal officers that they very much so want that seat at the table, that they don’t want to be seen as that team of No, the team that’s hindering business, they want to be seen as those enablers, right? They want to help power the business. And then part of being able to get that seat at the table, is to come with some of that data to be able to show this is how we’re enabling the business. This is how we’re constantly improving the legal function. This is how we’re supporting other parts of the organization in terms of meeting these higher level company goals. It’s not enough these days to be reactive, right? And how do you be more proactive? Obviously, technology and software can help enable that and make that job easier, so that you’re not managing, like, tons of different Excel spreadsheets, or you’re pulling together, you know, data and spending hours and hours of time doing that. And I think it’s a really interesting shift. And I think that’s a shift that is happening now. And legal teams that are at the forefront are already doing these things and thinking about these things. But in terms of that widespread adoption, and whether that’s expectations that are being set at the executive level function for the legal team and being sort of pushed down into them, or legal teams that are coming and saying, like, Hey, let me proactively show you how legal is empowering the business. I think that is a more, let’s say, fuller shift that we’re going to see over the next three to five years. I think those modern GCS are doing that right now proactively, and others are sort of catching, catching wind of it. And I think in terms of, you know, that change and how that shift happens, you know, certainly LinkSquares being being a part of it, and being that enabler and helping legal teams being able to accomplish that.
Greg Lambert 49:12
Well, Tim Parilla, chief legal officer and Juliette Kopecky chief marketing officer, both at LinkSquares. I want to thank both of you for taking the time to come in and talk with us. I’m really enjoyed listening to your perspectives. Thank you.
Juliette Kopecky 49:27
Thank you so much for having us.
Tim Parilla 49:29
Thank you. Appreciate it, Greg.
Greg Lambert 49:34
So it was kind of interesting to have an in house person come on the show. We don’t get a lot of a lot of them. So I think we kind of hit him with a lot of questions.
Marlene Gebauer 49:44
Yeah, I love getting the in house perspective. I always feel like it’s like we’re getting inside baseball knowledge and
Greg Lambert 49:50
especially the uniqueness of this position where he’s not just the in house. It’s almost like the Men’s Wearhouse commercial right I’m not just your in house thinking, not just your in house lawyer, I’m also a customer.
Marlene Gebauer 50:07
Also customer, I was really thinking that during the podcast, it was funny. That’s hysterical. So, you know, I do think I mean, there’s there’s a definite advantage there to sort of you have your sort of built in testers built in feedback, you know, that can, these are actual users and can talk the talk if you want, and you know, want to think of it that way in terms of, of other users, because they’re going to be doing it in very similar ways. So they can really share their positive experiences about it.
Greg Lambert 50:35
Yeah, it was interesting, listening to the way that Tim and Juliette kind of played off of each other, and other goes on their senior management team. But there’s just a number of things that I think, you know, cmo can teach a clo, and vice versa on that. So it’s really kind of magical, watching the two of them interact, and just kind of kind of play off of each other and learn from each other. And I think Tim was was spot on with, you can’t just show up at these meetings as the legal officer and just go, yeah, everything’s okay. And then follow that up with these, you know, amazing data presentations, that the marketing team that the finance team that everyone else is showing up with. So I think he’s got his, his thumb on the pulse here of what it is that not just in house, but I imagine outside counsel are also going to have to do to show with data, actual results.
Marlene Gebauer 51:39
Yeah, I mean, this was a very good example of personnel and and, you know, business personnel sort of working in tandem really, really well. And again, I think that is a lesson for all of the industry, you know, to see. It’s like how how positive that is, and how well that supports the business.
Greg Lambert 52:02
I agree. So thanks again to Tim Parilla, chief legal officer and to Juliette Kopecky, Chief Marketing Officer at LinkSquares for joining us today.
Marlene Gebauer 52:13
And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,
Greg Lambert 52:26
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 52:29
Or you can leave us a voicemail on our new geek and review Hotline at 713-487-7821. And as always, the music you hear is from the wonderful Jerry David DeCicca Thank you Jerry.
Greg Lambert 52:43
Thank you wonderful Jerry