Insights into Building Lean Legal Teams 💪🏼 👇
From Barriers to Building Blocks: Insight into Building Lean Legal Teams
Avi: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar, which is all about building a lean legal department and getting more done with less. My name is Avi Weiss. I'm the founder of Counselwell. I also happen to be a full-time in-house lawyer at Coinsquare, which is great. Cause I like to think I have a grasp on what we all want as in-house lawyers. I'll hand it over to Tiffany at MinuteBox to introduce herself. Thanks so much, Avi.
Tiffany: Yeah, so I'm Tiffany, I'm the Director of Customer Success at MinuteBox. What is MinuteBox? So MinuteBox is a no-code legal entity management cloud that supports tens of thousands of entities at scale. We enable corporate legal professionals to easily share work and collaborate with one another globally. Regards to the customer base. We actually have achieved 40% market share of Canada, seven sister law firms, 25% of the big four accounting firms and 30% of Ontario's top 10 regional firms. And as a company we're consistently growing internally and externally, for myself, I come from a background in legal tech, working for years, Kira Systems previously, building out a team and processes and then moving over to MinuteBox.
So my passion really comes from building, enabling and supporting others in any way that I can so happy to be co-hosts in this session here with Avi and with these great panelists.
Avi: Awesome. And I just want to let everyone know, please stay till the end as both Counselwell and MinuteBox have very special offers for those attending today.
I'm excited to announce our panelists. So we have Jamie Greenberg, who is the GC at Wattpad. We have Chad Aboud, who's the GC at AudienceView and Ryan Hayes, the AGC at Espresso Capital. Tiffany, why don't you get started with some introductions
Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely. So before we do that, I'll just mention the format.
So the webinar is obviously it will be recorded which we'll send out after this. You can also use the chat box or Q and A, which will be monitored by Avi and myself to ask any questions or make any comments. And if you have a question for specific panelists, just please do mention their names.
Tiffany: So let's start off with some introductions.
So can you each give us a little bit more detail on your background and what led you to your current role? Jamie, let's start off with you
Jamie: Hi there, I'm Jamie Greenberg, I'm currently a general counsel at Wattpad. I've had a bit of a, non traditional legal path up to where I am now. So I started in government at the CRTC.
I then moved on to a telecom startup by the name of Public Mobile and, worked through that acquisition, by Telus. I then went on to found a small production and distribution company,called Facet Four media, where I worked in a quasi illegal role. Then in 2019, I think in February, 2019. So it's been about three years. I joined Wattpad kind of joining the, general kind of corporate in-house experience with the media experience I'd had before. And,I've been GC at Wattpad for three years recently led the transaction, of, of the acquisition of Wattpad by Naver Corp, which is a major South Korean internet company. And, and we're just kinda growing, expanding, and. And learning, I'm learning to work with our new friends. So that's where I'm at now.
Tiffany: Amazing. Thanks so much for that. Jamie, a lot of great achievements there. Chad, and if you could give us an introduction.
Chad: Awesome. And thanks everyone for joining. So my background is I started out in private practice in kind of a securities M & A corporate finance role at Cassels Brock I was there for about four or five years and then actually traveled for about six months, which was a cool kind of experience at the time and no kids and a lot easier to do it than it would be now, and then went in-house to Indigo so I was there for three years wanting to see the other side of the coin. So from going, selling from selling legal services, to buying legal services, which was cool, and to go with cool brand, and a big company, but a smaller legal department. So that was cool. Got to see a lot of different functions.
And then after three years there in March, 2019, I moved over to AudienceView, which is an international portfolio of tech companies, B2B and B2C that supports the live events industry. We did, we've done lots of acquisitions, leading up to 2020, and then obviously the pandemic had a major impact on live events around the world. We had a really interesting two years of kind of rebuilding the company there. And that was probably the most formative part of the last couple of years. For me, it was taking kind of historic manual, tech companies to becoming more data-driven automated technical.
Tiffany: Awesome. Thanks so much, Chad. It's I'm so interesting. How, in light of the pandemic, you can go through and overcome some of those struggles. thank you for sharing. Ryan, if you could give us an introduction.
Ryan: Sure. And thank you everyone for being here today. My name's Ryan Hayes, I'm the associate general counsel at Espresso Capital. We are Canadian based international venture debt lenders. providing loans to mainly software as a service businesses, looking for. smaller $3 to $5 million loans for companies that, have revenue, but aren't necessarily profitable yet. So we have deep understanding of how, how those businesses work and how to get comfortable with their business models. And we have some other strategic subsidiaries and other things as well. There'll be work on. I was previously at, at Osler in the banking and financial services group. And before that I was at Fogler Rubinoff and the corporate group, was there to get a wider understanding of sort of corporate law. And the reason why I moved over to Espresso is because I'm a big fan of legal technology. So it was a way to really take things to a new level and really implement as much technology as I could at a place and Espresso had already gone pretty far with document automation and that sort of things.
But,we have, we have a strong technology team, so it's good work with them and work with our external counsel to really build out those tools to make us as efficient as possible.
Tiffany: Amazing. Thanks for sharing.
thank you so much for being here to the panelists.
What does a lean legal team mean to your respective organization?
Avi: Thank you. so most of the questions that Tiffany are, Tiffany and I are going to ask you today are going to be,to one of you panelists addressed to one of you, but this one is a more broad based questions. anyone can choose to answer this. What does a lean legal team mean for your respective organizations?
Chad: So for me, I think, when I think about lean legal team, I think sometimes maybe we've created too much of a synonymous definition with like small and I'm not really sure that it has to mean like number, like raw number. I think it means like the efficiency of the function and you can gain that through a lot of ways.
And I guess the way I would think about it is that it doesn't necessarily have to mean like small spenders, small number of humans. It's like the ROI of the function to the overall company in terms of what its goals are. if the company's in a growth mode,an Espresso's just dumping money into it then, then maybe, there's room for like more and more legal tech, which is spend, but it creates a better efficiency or maybe there's certain types of humans that can create a lot of value based on the skill set that's needed by the function.
So the way that I think about it is that like what is going to be really efficient for that company and that age and stage, and, happy to talk about my version of that later, that I thought was like high value spend. And so that makes it a lean team because you're getting tons of value out of whatever number that it is.
You can like a portion to the scale of the company.
Ryan: I agree with Chad, one thing I'm going to add is that one, the one benefit of being, very lean and Espresso, certainly lean we have two people on our legal team, directly and one half resource, which I'll talk a little later on.
Another question is that we're constantly, up-to-date on what's going on. So for instance, I'm on vacation right now and I can, and I know that the rest of the team knows exactly what I'm doing. We, because we're very lean. We have a good grasp of everything that's going on so we can keep our updates very quick, rapid, and so that people can step in and we can deliver services much faster to, to the rest of the organization.
Jamie: And then I guess my version of lean is. I try to avoid hiring, until it's absolutely necessary and that, so when we do make a hire, it's just so obvious that, we don't have to, justify it necessarily. I'd been wrong multiple times where, I probably should have made a hire earlier.
but in that, in this case, generally my exec team understands that what I'm asking for people that, that I really do need the people. So building that trust and Hey, we're not hiring 20 lawyers under you, but you do need X, Y, or Z. So I looked at it like that.
Q: How do you set your department budget or is it set for you?
Tiffany: Thanks so much for those insights. so when we talk about lean, we obviously talk about budgeting. so I know it can be really difficult to set an accurate budget when there are so many variables that are unknown examples, surprise litigation transaction. So Jamie has this question is for you, how do you set your department budget or is it set for you?
Jamie: Yeah, so I, I think like when I look at my budget, I separate out like the black Swan events. So transaction or major security incident, or, two things that I've experienced in my short three year tenure. because those are going to cost what they're going to cost, no one's going to say, Jamie, oh, you spent a hundred thousand, even a million dollars more on this, $600 million transaction.
Now, all they care is that it gets done properly. but on the day to day, and the things you can control, what I found. Most helpful is to be intimately involved in the budgeting process. And I've done it both ways. I've taken a more, hands-off post, a more hands-off role in budgeting, and I've been more intimately involved in, I can say that like injecting yourself into the project, product roadmaps, injecting yourself into the processes.
The plans is essential because when the budget process happens and at least the companies I've been to I've been at, anything could happen. So you don't know whether your board is going to approve a little bit, a lot, some, in our case, we've had some great growth years during COVID and everything has gotten approved.
And, as a legal function, if you don't have budget attached to every initiative that's going forward, you might be out of luck. and in deep trouble when you need to support those functions and the growth mode company. So my advice is get as deeply involved in the budgeting process, prioritize it, ask a lot of questions. You might, you might become annoying at some point, but in the end it's going to benefit you in a year ahead.
Q: How do you report your budget to executives?
Tiffany: And how do you go about reporting that budget to your executives? Thankfully my executives generally trust my budgeting and we have quarterly,reconciliations where, it's reported up to the board.
I generally update my budget on a bi-weekly basis. So I'm very diligent on my spend on where it's being allocated. And I take a lot of pride in the past three years. My I've landed within a thousand dollars of my year, a couple thousand dollars, my yearly budget. And so that creates a level of trust.
I've done that because I've been very careful as we go through the editing process to allocate properly. And it's, there has been times when I've had to ask for more money or a times during cope when COVID hit, where we had to make across the board cuts. But I was able to do that in real time because my budget had been updated throughout.
Jamie: So we do quarterly. my is visible to, I don't know how it works with everyone else, but my budget's visible to everyone in the company. Everyone can see where I'm spending. I have nothing to hide. All they care about is that they get their legal issues fixed. I don't, I would say accurately, but I'm not sure they care half the time.
I think they do care about quickly though. I care more about accurately.
Avi: First of all,that's crazy that you're able to get within a thousand dollars.
I think everyone here is interested in hiring you as a consultant,to do budget setting for their companies. just let us know, what your rates.
Q: How do you communicate once you've set your budget?
Avi: I have a question for you, Chad, how do you communicate, once you've set your budget, how do you communicate that budget to the rest of the legal department and what is their responsibility in terms of ensuring that they meet that budget?
Or is this something that, rests solely within your purview?
Chad: Yeah. So I, this question was like, I think back to when I first went in house and I think when a bunch of, and it was actually something I was really curious about because in private practice, you don't really, have a budget that you're controlling.
Maybe you have some professional spend, but whatever it is per year and you use it. So you don't really think about this stuff. And so I was actually really curious about it and I had never even really thought about, oh yeah, legal functions, a function. And it would have its own budget. I'd never even thought about it until I went into industry.
And so when I first started, I really wanted visibility from the GC and the AGC of Indigo about like how they built it, because I had never even thought about it before. And so a lot of stuff that Jamie's talking about was the same stuff that I learned, which is you got to get involved all the stakeholder groups so that you can see it.
You can understand it, you can plan for it. So for me now that, I'm the one who's doing that same work, I do take a lot of time and effort to make sure. Anyone who's on my team understands the budget, understands how we're creating the buckets we're creating, or we're very specific line items or software tools, because I think it's a really important skill to learn.
Like when you move into industry from almost every peer of ever spoken to, it's a, basically another business function, and you have to be able to understand how all of those functions are running their own P and L's and maybe you don't have a revenue stream yet, but you definitely have the other side of the coin and you have to understand how that works.
And so for me, I'm a big proponent of making sure that anyone that's on my team understands how the budget got built up when it connects to what we're accountable for, what would happen if we had a black Swan event we hadn't planned for, or were underneath the budget and what the trends look like, what the meetings with, if you have a finance team partner that kind of knows reconciliations with you, depending on how your company does it, like how that works.
I think that's really important that in terms of who owns the spend, that probably depends on like your team structure or seniority, specialty. So in mine, if we're a two person legal team and I have a junior and I wouldn't expect her at her age and stage and just joining the company to own it.
But if we were getting close on like different leavers, I would expect her to understand and, make sure that we're getting like value for the ask. I actually think that's the most important thing about training people about budgeting. It's not just about setting a number it's about getting value for that number.
When you say. So that's where I would really put a lot of my time into training. Someone to think about budgeting is like also that second piece is okay, now you've got a number. How do you get value for the number in terms of quality instructions, the timing, et cetera. So I take, I think it's a pretty important thing for some of that training.
Tiffany: Yeah, definitely agree. It's definitely that transparency is so impactful within a team and builds that trust as well. So thanks for that.
Q: Does your budget allow for flexibility?
Tiffany: And Ryan, I know when we talk about budget, we talk about a lot of flexibility. Does your budget allow for flexibility? So if you were to make a business case for an expense outside the budget, would it get approved?
yeah, absolutely. Our budget does allow for flexibility. our Espresso budgets are set yearly, which is,which is a long time. and they're set marking,what the overall goals for the organization are. if those goals change or determined that throughout the year, there's something new that we need a new tool.
Ryan: There's a new legal issue that comes up. We can certainly get approval from the CFO to proceed with that cost. And, one thing that we're a little unique about it compared to Chad or Jamie's organization, is that, being, being a lender, we actually charge our borrowers for some of our internal legal costs. So we're actually a profit center, not just the loss center and that certainly helps with budgeting as well, because we're actually bringing in some money. so that certainly helps. just just which I was saying when, when you're making a business case for a new expense, you need to demonstrate that, I think of it as opportunity costs, demonstrate that, as Chad said, I think he mentioned it as value.
that you think of it as opportunity cost. So is it going to save costs? Is it going to save time? and when you do those things and you have a greater chance of approval, in addition to that, when you. Pitching something that, some, something part of the budget that wasn't there or something new, it's really important to demonstrate that you have trust and ownership of whatever you're doing.
Ryan: So if it's a, if it's a new tool, you make sure you have to, you put your project manager hat on, develop an implementation plan, figure out the rollout, work closely with,the technology team to make sure it fits into the existing technology structure, plan training plan, all that roll out for teams that are going to also something along those lines that sort of tool,take responsibility for what you're doing is I think really important to developing out your plan and that develops trust and ownership of it. One thing that's also helpful in terms of budgeting is that we also try to look and,at other, groups within Espresso and try to share resources as well. So recently we hired, an, an associate and he works very closely with our underwriting team, which we work closely with as well. So we share that associate 50 50, because we weren't at the point where we both needed a full, extra person. So we were to say, Hey, you know what? This would actually work really well to share the person because we're already sharing this information already. So it's one person that's connecting as well. that just happened to January and so far, we've been really happy with the results. And we definitely consider doing that again.
Tiffany: Amazing. Yeah, that's really important for sure. And it sounds like it's yielded some great results for you and your team, Awesome.
Q: What tools do you use for budgeting?
Avi: So we're going to get to Lisa's question now. and so this question is addressed to you, Jamie. what tools do you use for budgeting? Cause a lot of people use Google sheets for, for their entire lives.
They put all their money is tracked on Google sheets. and it's sometimes feels like there's gotta be, more advanced tools out there, but what can you tell us about that?
Jamie: Yeah, I, before I get into that and I just want to build on one thing that Chad said is when you get into these GC roles, you're thrown into a budgeting,you're thrown into budgeting with no training and there's no guidelines on how to do it.
In my first year at Wattpad, I got handed a budget. My second year I took a hands-off approach and I paid for it and it was only my third year, which was. I finally figured out how to do it properly. if anyone on this panel is, new to it or in a new role, reach out to your peers.
I wish I had done it earlier. because you're treated as a, as a function like everyone else and expected to know what to do, but lawyers don't usually know what to do. And that kind of goes into Lisa's question. Is what tools do you use? I use Google sheets, because the rest of the organization uses Google sheets. If you're a lawyer and you're used to using, word processing programs, you better get familiar with Google sheets because that's also a training,that lawyer's don't often have, every, everybody works off the same kind of spreadsheets. They're not gonna say oh, you're a lawyer. You're going to do your budgeting in word.
that just doesn't happen. generally lawyers, in companies, from everything I've seen, you don't get to choose your budgeting software. you're along for the ride in a lot of ways. so it goes back to what Chad said when, what I built on is that, like it's a learning process and, the sooner you reach out to peers, whether it's, friends who are in house in different capacities or mentors or whatnot, it's an underrated question to ask, like, how do you do it properly?
Jamie: Because it took me three years to figure out and,
Avi: Fair enough. just so everyone knows there are some, matter management tools out there. feel free to message me about them that I guess would be part of the budget if you ever do decide to try to get, one of those. but I agree with Jamie that, if your whole company is using one type of software, it's best to just stick with what everyone is using so that, it's, isolating enough as it is to be in the legal department as much as possible, try to, mess yourselves in with the company as much as possible.
Q: How do you determine what kind of legal work you'll keep in house versus what type of work you'll allocate to external counsel?
Avi: So I know as we move on from budgeting, a topic of discussion that comes up is surrounding in-house versus external counsel. Chad, how do you determine what type of legal work you'll keep in house versus what type of legal work you'll allocate to external counsel?
Chad: Yeah, for sure. and in case anyone looking for another tool, we use Vena as well, which kind of feels like Excel. So that's another one in case you want to take a look at that? Yeah. so I think that this question really depends on what your company is and what kind of talent that you have.
The ideal is, and it's good because we have three different people here whose companies do three different things and we have three different backgrounds and it makes sense, and it should make sense that whatever your company does, the bread and butter of what they do, hopefully you're not spending boatloads of money on that, unless it's a massively transactional operation. In which case you probably have external counsel, but otherwise,you want to, I would think, or at least my experience has been, you do a lot of that stuff yourself. So in my existence, 80% B2B, 20% B2C, like negotiating the terms of our SaaS agreements is not something that I outsource. And, we can talk about this later, but we use tools for that as well to help make it more efficient. But when I think about. Beyond kind of 1 0 1 data security stuff. if we want to blow out a product to a new jurisdiction or, things like this, we want to do like an overall assessment on a B2C platform.
I see there's lots of value there for me because, I know enough about, about data security and privacy from doing this long enough, but I don't know the details of each jurisdiction's nuances. So there's value there for that kind of spend or like IP management, like I know enough about managing an IP platform, but I'm not going to do filings. I'm not going to do disputes. And so there's like value to outsourcing that sort of thing. And that's what I think about it. It's whatever the company does, a bread and butter, either come with or gain those skills because they're gonna be expecting you to do that stuff for the vast majority of it. And then when you think about transactions or more nuanced things that are within that 20% of your kind of life cycle litigation, IP, we have real estate everywhere and, managing it day to day, we would do in house. But if we're going to do a sublease or whatever it is I'm not going to the way that I see it. And, Ryan was talking about this too. It's like my value prop to the company isn't there. My value prop would be managing that sublease negotiation and make sure it's efficient. We're capturing what we need. The commercials are making sense for our overall risk profile. But like for me to conjure up a sublease would make no sense because then I'm spending way too much time doing that and not doing what the business needs, which is a lot of strategic advice or tactical advice on what is the core of our business.
Chad: So I think about the non-core things. And then I think about what slice of those non-core things. That's what I outsource, but when I outsource it, I'm always trying to learn at the same time. Because otherwise you just pay one off. You never get smarter. You should always be trying to get smarter on that stuff. So that, it's more interesting for you. The advice is better internally, and then you're just handing off the stuff that is uninteresting or too technical, or just requires the bench strength. That's how I do division of it.
Tiffany: Yeah. I love that you're taking those experiences and you're learning from them, which is really, definitely important.
Chad: And if you can't speak about it internally, people are going to be worried, right? They're going to ask you basic questions and they're going to assume, because you're a lawyer, criminal law, family law, and get them out of parking tickets. They're gonna expect you to know something about it. If you can't speak to it. Like I was new to IP law when I went to Indigo, Indigo has a massive brand and the huge portfolio. And if I didn't learn that stuff to like that 65% level, then you can handle 80% of the questions that are coming in with a level of. Then you're never showing improvement in growth for yourself and for others and they lose trust. If every single time you gotta be like, I'll be back to you in 24 hours, one second and wrangle up my external counsel. Like it's not a fun way to live and you lose the trust of your business partner. So nobody's going to expect you to know everything all the time, but you got to learn and grow.
Jamie: Absolutely. But knowledge share is very important. and I know that just from Chad speaking,Jamie and Ryan, you were just as engaged. If you have any, other comments about this topic I think it the audience would want to hear it. One analogy that I use all the time and I feel free anyone could steal it if they liked it and it seems to resonate with the businesses you tell the business is think of me like an emergency room doctor. You want to come to me with everything and I'm going to be able to help you. I'm going to be able to do some stitches. I'm going to be able to set a bone. I'm going to be able to diagnose and stuff.
But if you need heart surgery. I got to find a cardiologist. So I got to find that privacy specialist and, in, in Ireland or wherever to help us out. And people, really people really resonate. It really resonates with that because people think of lawyers, in this kind of global sense, but really we, we don't have the answers to their, parking dispute,or the, privacy matter in Japan, but we can help them find it.
And like Chad said, building that trust that you can fix most things, you can handle most things, the day-to-day stuff, but there's an understanding that the more complicated asks are gonna take a little bit more time and they have to trust you that you're going to get them right now.
Ryan: And it's actually funny because w what Jamie said about eating a privacy lawyer in Ireland, I was actually just thinking of something that happened last month, where we needed a privacy lawyer in England to respond to GDPR requests. And, and the lawyer we said was, really good at it said, oh, no problem.
These happen all the time. Here's the forum. And the really just did it without, without too much thoughts. and, I noticed at the time is that the particular requests related to some other things are happening externally, where people were very highly sensitive to this one particular board. And so when we went review it with, with the managing director, they were very like really focused on this request because it was related to some other things that are going on.
And,having known that I probably would have dug in a little bit further as to why exactly the, all these things that happened because I was having to try to figure it out on the fly, okay,this does look like standard stuff or what are the, what's the reasons behind it.
I think it's good to, and as Chad said, it's good to know, even if it's something that, seems very standard, it's good really dig into it to be able to really explain it well, even if your external counsel or the sides going, oh yeah, this is a piece of cake.
Ryan: No problem. It's very standard. just do this and we'll be okay. it's important to dig in, so you're, knowledgeable what's going on
Avi: Thanks everyone for your input on that. I just want to go back to budgeting for a second only because Jamie seems to be a budget profit.
Q: How has the pandemic effected budget planning for your department?
Avi: How has the pandemic effected budget planning for your department? if it has at all?
Jamie: Don't think I'm a budget profit, but I'm lucky. and it's better to be lucky than smart. we've had a whirlwind through the pandemic, budget wise,like all companies in March, 2020,we really tightened up and I had to have some, relatively difficult conversations with, many outside counsel and providers.
They're all understanding at the time. And I said, listen, stick with us. this will pass. We'll make it up to you. Obviously. I didn't know that it would pass, still hasn't passed, but from a budgeting financial perspective, Wattpad, luckily. what was it, one of the kind of net beneficiaries of lockdowns and COVID because people, stayed home and, you can only watch so much Netflix, so they flocked Wattpad and read a lot.
So we saw incredible rises and engagement as the pandemic went on. And that obviously unlocked, unlocked, budget that kind of been previously cut. so we went from a situation where we were having very difficult conversations to, Hey, we're now launching all these new products because we have this great engagement.
I was,having good conversations. that was through no skill of my own, but, I was able to make good on my promises that like, Hey, stick with us. And we'll figure it out through the pandemic. the the biggest kind of pandemic surprise in terms of budgeting was an acquisition. And, and obviously this growth led to a really nice, growth and financial picture of Wattpad. And we were able to, consummate,a great acquisition that really benefited everyone. And that, that is one of those black Swan events that, I can't budget for. It doesn't matter if I put $10,000 or towards a product or $15,000 towards a product and legal spend, that's never going to cover a,a Korean Canadian, acquisition with, tens of shareholders, the most kind of sophisticated VC funds in the world.
Jamie: Now, I need, you need to go out and hire, the best outside counsel you possibly can because all your shareholders care about is getting the deal done. they, they don't want to hear about. That you saved X dollars on outside counsel. They want to know that their money's in their bank accounts.
So I had a very weird pandemic experience, down then up then all the way up. But,I'm sure everyone, everyone had their own weird experiences,some similar, some different
Thank you and congrats again on that very exciting acquisition.
Q: Are you working on any strategies for building up expertise in house so that you can rely less on external counsel?
Tiffany: So as we pull it back to in-house versus external, Ryan, I know Chad obviously mentioned some, strategies, but are you working on any strategies for building up expertise in house so that you can rely less on external counsel?
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. That's really, as Chad said, you're going to focus on the bread and butter of what you're doing and make sure that you can do that as much as possible internally, so that really is the primary focus of Espresso's's legal department is to develop internal legal capabilities to close sort of our core business, which is a, which is venture debt loans. And when would we do this? No, obviously hiring lawyers internally. Of course you have the people that know how to do it. The second way is by implementing a lot of technologies and processes in order to, make what you're doing significantly more efficient than if you were to use external counsel because you didn't same thing, very, very closely each time you do it.
So it's, it really makes a lot of sense. and and as I mentioned previously, you know what we do, we,we charge our internal legal fees and our external legal fees to, to our borrower clients. And you do these efficiencies that we developed. When we look at sort of the overall fees, internal and external legal fees together, it comes at a, comes in at about half of what it would cost if we had an external legal counsel doing it each time.
So really everybody wins. so it's great. And, so not just, not just from a cost perspective, but from a quality perspective, the documents are extremely consistent across the board. and,and very fast as well. So our, our internal teams are used to extremely fast turnaround times that, you just wouldn't, they would be really hard to get elsewhere.
We use external counsel for a lot of things. but at the same time, we do, there are some areas where we were actually switched from doing something and doing some things internally to externally when we've taken analysis out and said, okay, Let's look at, what our bread and butter work is, how much would it cost to do something else where you know, what that would look like?
And does it actually make sense to do this internally? And could we get a better value proposition by doing it externally? so one thing we've done is with some of our investments in venture capital funds is we actually determined that the, that type of work was better suited to be, I'd external counsel that was highly focused on just doing that particular thing.
And they had themselves developed a very efficient model where they would actually, it was unique, but if they had other, if they had other investors investing in that particular fund, we'd be able to split the legal, the external legal counsel costs across all of the investors. And that way,it was, they have expertise, there's leverage there and it just made a lot of sense. We're always looking for those sorts of unique situations that,does this go external? Is this going through. and we're not afraid to do that one cause it's, justifying the best experience, not just the cost. And,the other thing I would say is that when we are looking at external counsel, we spend a lot of time,looking for external counsel that really fits with our business model. And because we are a little unique and what we do try to do a lot of things internally, we really looked at, define the scope of what's going on. be transparent that, we do try to do a lot of things internally, so it's not going to be, start to finish work. We will be looking more for one-off, is this a market type thing?
Tiffany: And, are these, tougher type of questions and look for external counsel that is willing to do that sort of work, develop out our templates, make them as flexible as possible and work within our business model. And we've found a lot, recently we just started working with the lawyer who is a sole practitioner, but she had very deep experience in one of the markets we are starting to operate in. So it was, a really perfect fit, but we had to speak to, 10 lawyers before we found this one that was a perfect fit for what we were doing. And, it just takes time being transparent to get there. And, taking the time to actually say, this is what we're looking for and not promising, not promising to be the best client ever, but promising, Hey, we're looking for this. Can you match that? Yeah, those are some really, very valuable strategies for sure. And Chad and Jamie, do you find some of those strategies have either helped or have you, do you have any additional strategies to help with building up the expertise in house?
And it, it just, it when you're going through the budgeting process, it makes sense because, Hey, you're going to allocate all this money to do all this stuff. it makes sense that you need someone to a human being to actually make sure it all, it, all, it all goes to the way your, your planning.
So yeah, so I, again, I lean to the, high, higher when you need to,but, you use outside counsel until that point that you absolutely need to hire.
Chad: One thing I really liked about what Ryan said. I tried to do this a lot too. It's I really try to be transparent with my external counsel to make sure they know the value that they're getting and that I'm getting and my expectations of what I'm looking for and that's everything from who's on their team to how they operate to like their human style.
It's not just like their expertise. Like I've got no time for people who just have like too big of an ego or are unresponsive. There are so many smart people out there. I don't need those folks. And so part of like my frame up is not only what I need you to do, but how I need you to do it, who I'm expecting on your team, why I'm looking to hire you so that like it's abundantly clear.
And you know what I try to tell them is that we want to frame out this or we want you to do this was efficient for us. I've got to make sure that I've been on the other side as a seller, if there's going to be value to them. So the value to them is that what are you bringing to them once they've started making things efficient for you, because then they're gonna think to themselves, they're working themselves out of a deal.
And so you got to say to them, And then here's the pieces. Once we get good at this, we can blow out this model to do this and this. who do you think I'm going to love and want to use? It's going to be you. And also as a client perspective, like this part may start small, but like I've been a seller of legal services.
Chad: So I understand quality instructions, transparency, not giving you fake timelines. that's what you're going to get with me. And I promise that to you too. And I think it's really important to treat everyone like a human, we've almost all of us have been on both sides of this thing.
Lawyers and law firms, they're just humans. And if you treat them like robots, they will treat you like a robot and then everyone's gonna be unhappy. But because you pay the money, you're going to be upset about it. So when I think about building scale and efficiency, You can do it altruistically because you think everyone should be a human, which I think is lovely.
And I hope everyone thinks that way or just do it cynically because you want a better product faster. That's better for you. If you want to be a cynic about a Butte as a cynic, but treat people like a human and that will actually build your scale and knowledge and process too, because you'll get a really happy service provider.
Jamie: Yeah, I would add one more thing. Like one of my pep to use when hiring outside counsel is when I see a junior on the files doing all the work and they never bring the junior on the call, then infer mentioned their name and I am, I find it. I find it important. I always tell them no, if he's working on the file or she's working on the file, I want her on the call. Okay. Billing aside, let's meet this person, that they're the one doing all the work. We can all joke. We can all joke that the twelve-year partner is doing the work. it's not the 12 year partner doing the work. And the junior is really appreciate getting the air time. But, I think it's table stakes because this is the person that, for the most part taken care of you and they do better work when they know you care about them. So it's a win-win.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I'd also say that, we also, it definitely what Chad said, all those principles.
I think we,we do is we also implement as well where we're looking at external counsel. And the other thing is focused on training. train them as to how we do it, how our documents work, what we expect, what we're interested in, what we don't care about, really, so that they,and the same thing as Jamie said, that applies to partners and junior associates happy to redo the training.
We also, we always try to integrate them into our platforms as well. we have a deal closing platforms, we bring them on so we can collaboratively work together and try to really make them part of the team. And, as Chad said treat them like human beings and make sure that they're, they have the skills they need to meet the same goals that you want to meet.
Avi: These are fantastic insights of, sorry, Tiffany, go ahead.
Tiffany: Oh, no, it was just about to say the same thing. I think it's so important to really enable and build up those members. So they feel valued. They feel like they've made an impact and you do. That's how you build loyalty as well.
Avi: Ryan, you mentioned something earlier about, utilizing technology to create efficiencies.
Q: How do you utilize technology in your department?
Avi: And so I have this question for you, Chad, about, continuing on that theme, how do you utilize technology in your department? Have you noticed that it's helped maximize efficiency? Have you seen a dramatic reduction in. cause a lot of times people, in legal departments, we were eager to take on new legal tech and then we take it on and then we never implement it. And then a year later,accounting says, so what did he with that 15,000? And the answer is nothing. We're actually in a worst position because we spent all that time, getting to this product and no one's using it. So how do you approach that?
Chad: For sure. And this has probably been the biggest, development for me and how my legal function supports my company over the last couple of years.
So when I was a buyer of tech at Indigo, and so I saw lots of different types of SaaS agreements because typically you get the sellers form, everything from Oracle to, mom and pop shops. What I realized was like, there's very, there's a lot of different formats, short to long stuff, online, everything in the document, old school, embedded commercial and legal terms, mixed together, schedules, all kinds of things.
And then when I came over, my company is a collection of portfolio of companies that each have their own 20 year history that have all been signed together in the last few years. And so like any individual, small tech company, it's a very product and sales type organization, and you're doing whatever you can do to try to keep the growth.
And, there, isn't a lot of kind of process maturity, intentionally and unintentionally. And so when I showed up, it was a classic, you have a CRM tool, we use Salesforce, but you have a CRM tool that is basic and it captures maybe some prospect pipeline information, maybe out of date, maybe from 20 years ago, maybe current depends on the seller.
And then you've got some account management stuff. Maybe there's some information about support cases or health scores of maybe not. And it has very little accurate commercial information. And I noticed that and the way that I knew that very quickly is because all of the companies each had their own 15 page word document where you fill in the yellow fields for the commercial details and either the legal function does it as a gatekeeper or the sellers of the account management people do it.
And there's all kinds of variety of quality and whatever. So it was classic. And instead of showing it, so to your point about like how lawyers get caught in buying budgeting and owning legal tech, and that I'm not doing anything with it. I instead just try to be curious. And I was like, okay. So let me learn about all these different functions, sales account management, what's going well.
What are the pain points? in any company that doesn't use a CRM, isn't mandated, it's an optional tool then your data's all over the place. And so we'll okay. what does that mean? it means that if you ran the sales function or if you ran the account management function and every quarter or every month, you got called to the table to give a report on your pipeline or your client expected, churn or whatever.
That's hard. That's hard to do. Okay. So how do you make it better while everyone wishes the CRM tool is more up to date. Okay. So how do you get there? you have to make it mandated. Okay. how do you get there? Cause that's everyone's dream. Now you have the answer. guess what legal tech that implements with Salesforce or any CRM tool requires Salesforce to be used for the contracts to work.
That's how you do it because you have to drive back to what matters to the individual human, not you. Legal function doesn't matter. Nobody cares They're just expecting you like Jamie and Ryan have said to do the work and get it done. They don't, it's not their functions, so nobody's going to solve it for you.
And if you try to solve it from your own perspective, you're going to buy tech that you never use. So instead, what you do is you find out why other people, what they're struggling with and how they could benefit from it. You frame up a soul to their problem immediately. They become the champion, right?
They want it. Maybe it's their spend. Maybe it's their implementation because now they realize how critical it is to them. Guess what? They actually have better tools to do it than you do. They've got ops teams, they've got people who know the CRM platform. They're motivated because now they know that their commissions and their paychecks and your teams, exposure to the company on how they're doing is tied to that.
And so that's how I did it, and all, and I wasn't trying to do it cynically. I just knew that was the most efficient way to do it so that they would benefit from it. And they saw that story realized how good it was. And we used their ops teams to implement it and to run it today. So the sales ops team and the account manager and ops managers, a CRM platform makes sense.
The legal tech that's bolted onto it. They essentially manage that too. Like any tool that's bolted onto a CRM system. And so that's how I did it. And it dramatically changed the way we run the company. Yes, of course it saves me time and it keeps things more consistent because legal terms are online and service descriptions of products are online, but it makes the contract from 15 pages that someone's got to populate to two pages or one page that is driven out data.
Chad: So now you've got something that's automatically done 24 7, no matter where your people are in the world, they can push buttons to populate these things that can be e-signed. That as long as they're standard, you would never see or have to support as a legal function. But they, again, don't care about that.
What they care about is now they've got their data. So now they can slice and dice reports. It's easy for them. They look and are very professional in their forecasting and that's the magic. Like you gotta do things from other people's perspective, especially when you need their help.
Avi: I think it's a really fantastic suggestion.
I think all of us sitting here and all the attendees, are probably thinking, wow, I wish we had that system set up. and so I just urge everyone after this webinar is over. Do something like do a small, actionable tasks just to get started on this process, to implement the system where things are actually getting done and, you're utilizing existing tools. And yeah, I just don't, I can't overstate how important it is, what Chad just said,
Lisa just asked the question, she's asking if there, if you have suggestions, if different departments need different things like different systems,
Chad: if they want to use access different systems that are not your choice, and you've got to support them in doing it.
Okay, cool. yeah,the way that I think about anything that I'm asked to do as a lawyer I don't run when people start telling me do this, I try to understand why they're even talking about it in the first place. And I think where lawyers get tricked, especially the ones that are coming out of law firm training is since it's a monopolistic, entity, only lawyers and various specific things. Whenever you hear something at Osler or Cassels or wherever you work, you are going to do that thing. It's 98% sure you're going to do it. Businesses don't work that way. If things are ideas, there's many ideas and it goes many different ways. So if you have a, and everyone uses the same words, but they'll mean different things.
And so in any example, but if in this one, someone was like, Hey, we want to use Asana. We want you guys to use Asana. I wouldn't even worry about it. I'd be friendly about it, but that, that doesn't mean that's what I'm going to do. What I then try to do is be like in the friendliest jokey, highest, nicest way. Is understand what they're trying to achieve. What is paidn and where do they think they're trying to solve it? Because from my experience, I spent half my career at a firm and half my time in industry is that business people are very open to a variety of solutions. It's very different than working in a law firm.
And as soon as you, but it sounds like you have to do this thing they're talking about. And so I think if you're curious and you have humility and you're trying to like, understand what the frustration they're feeling or the goal they're trying to achieve, people are very open to a variety of things.
Chad: And maybe you've used Asana, but maybe you're like, actually I've used Asana, in the past. And here's the pros and cons of it. you're talking about these two things that are a win for you. Those are difficult with Asana. You can do it with this other tool. Do you want to demo both with me?
That's the way that I do it. I don't worry about if people tell me, unless, it's the 3% of the time, one day are just going to tell you. But most of the time I try to understand and then learn about it and just use the humility to learn. And then maybe Asana is amazing for you too.
Ryan: And maybe if I could step in one thing that I did, which Chad is saying is also, I think Chad, maybe it goes as well as it, I always find it helpful to also be proactive.
And if somebody raises Hey, we have this issue and we're looking into it and there might be some component that is legal, say, oh, what's the issue? What do you mean by that? And try to dig into it sooner rather than later, because otherwise you're going to get the, the, Hey, we're doing this. Can you look at this agreement and you need to be done tomorrow? Cause they'd forgotten in the process to do you bring it up to speed and that sort of thing. So try to say, Hey, oh, I heard that you mentioned in that meeting, that you're experiencing this issue or something's changed here with a current provider. What's that about and be, be generally curious to make sure that, everything's, streamlining together to the kind of thing, instead of saying this is the implementation plan to figure out the reason behind why that's happening and then try to help guide that.
Avi: Thank you. Tiffany, so we only have a few minutes left, so I don't know if we have time for the final takeaway or, thinking maybe we just open it up for Q and A, because it looks like there's already a bunch of questions here. So Chad, the first question is from Stefano.
Q: Challenges faced when implementing legal tech?
Avi: He's asking if you have any advice about legal tech, can you speak to any challenges faced when implementing tech was there resistance on uptake? And if so, how did you overcome that to, to drive a broad use there?
Chad: For sure. Hey Stefano. Good to see you again, man. Yes to all of those things and I think it's always going to be the case. So I think, the implementation, that's the part that I was talking about last time, which is don't for me, don't make it about your own purpose. Nobody cares. So as long as it's solving other people's problems for the reasons that they want to solve them, not the reasons you think they want to solve them, but like actually the humility and curiosity to learn, then you're going to be speaking their language automatically, already going to get support on the implementation.
Really tactically on the implementation with legal tech providers is I don't automatically use that provider's implementation team. I actually try to scope out whether there are any good or not. Some people can make good products and are garbage on implementation and support. And in the most important tech tool that I have, I used a third-party implementer who was certified in our CRM tool and in that piece of legal tech, and I just felt liked that person's style better, had more controls over them. And I didn't feel good about my legal tech's implementation team. It was also way cheaper. that's pretty tactical.
In terms of resistance, there's always going to be resistance. And it's also amazing because the same folks who are pushing that this current processes too manual sucks, we've got to make it better, will be the same folks that'll fight on it later and be like, wow, now everything's so robotic and I can't get any support and it's always going to happen. And what I'm trying to focus on is here are the pain points that were identified. Here's the salts. And I bring those people along for the journey. it doesn't mean that they get veto rights, they, they get to see what the options are and get to give, try to be more of a champion that way.
And I do try to. Tell them things that I bet there'll be sensitive to and how we're trying to solve it. So one really tactical example for us is, we have thousands of clients across enterprise, mid market, and, early, early stage, clients and our enterprise clients sees, seven figures a year that they're paying us and, we changing from this 15 page document called the SaaS agreement to, a two page document called an order form that had online terms of conditions and an online website. Now lawyers all know all of this stuff means the same thing. It's just different packaging. It doesn't matter. But to business teams that are very used to certain processes, they might be like, oh my God, enterprise clients never going to sign up to something like that.
And I think, if you're aware of this stuff on the front end, you come armed proactively or reactively with, they will because I've done it many times as a buyer and a seller. And so I used to use the example, a true example, and I'd even bring it up. If I had to a redacted version of this is what Oracle does.
They have been doing this for 10 years. And so I think that you try to, head off proactively or reactively, the points of sensitivity. Are we going to get enough support? Are the tools going to do a good job of transferring what I have in the CRM system to the order form? And you do demos with them, you do it in sandboxes.
You show them how it works, you get their feedback. And I think that's how you get the buy-in, to really drive the use because you see at the end of the day, now it's 24 7, totally. Within your wheelhouse, you play with any parameters, do whatever you want to go make money. And I think people like that.
Avi: Thank you for answering that question. does anyone else have any questions? We have time for probably one, one more
Tiffany: So what advice, or main takeaway do you want to leave our audience with on helping them build or expand on lean legal teams in their respective organizations?
Ryan: So I think maybe in terms of building out, I think maybe what I'd like to maybe touch on is, was Chad's point in terms of resistance. yeah, absolutely. I think that if you don't get some resistance, you're probably not doing something enough. If you actually want to be transformative, you're going to get, you're going to get resistance. So yeah, you have to be proactive. You have to plan it out. You have to figure. it be, be ready for those things. as Chad said, get a sandbox, going, figure out how it works for, figure out how you can make it as easy as possible, make charts about how things work and, reaffirm points few times and be ready and also be ready to change that plan. You might get feedback and I actually include one thing we're working on right now. I included a lot of feedback in two points throughout the process for the other teams. this is what it's going so far.
This is how this is one per way. We can implement this technology. Here's another way. and does this work for our borders? This is working this way. and then, we're going to feedback. an artist Chad pointed out, like nobody cares what you're, you gotta put your ego to the side, nobody cares what you want.
It has to be for the better for the betterment of everyone. And so you need to take that feedback and put it in and make something work for you. I think that's where I would leave it as, you gotta make it work for you and for the organization is what I meant to say.
Jamie: Yeah. and make it sustainable. Like I think both Ryan and Chad pointed out,that the implementation is one thing, but you need to make sure that whatever tech you bring in is something that's going to continue to be used. And the business has to buy into that. you can't mandate it. They have to want to do it. They have to be interested in doing it they have to see it in and their best. So once that happens, I agree a thousand percent, your life becomes way easier because it's their process that they own. And it is a legal process, but they feel like it's their process. And, and so that really is the key to having a sustainable, lean tech, lean legal team that can rely on tech is having those tools.
And when you implement them for the long-term, we've all of us on this call have bought a tech tool at some point that, gets no use and that, that feels the worst. we all learn from our mistakes and building those sustainable teams and the sustainable processes.
and if you have to hire someone to help with that, that's well worth it, or else your investment's going to be for not.
Avi: Thank you. okay, so it's 2 0 1. So we'll just do some closing remarks. First of all, thank you so much to, the panelists, Jamie, Chad and Ryan. this was really fantastic.
I know I learned a lot and I hope everyone else did as well. Thank you, Tiffany. My cohost. Yeah. So just to echo, thank you all so much for attending for Avi, for being an amazing cohost, and two or three panelists. Jamie, Chad and Ryan. Thanks so much for those valuable insights. I did want to leave our audience with one special offer from MinuteBox.
If you do sign up for a MinuteBox by April 1st, you will receive our MinuteBox action pack, for free. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of MinuteBox transaction precedents ever assembled with pre-built workflows to help with that efficiency. So if you are interested, you can just reach us at MinuteBox.com.
Everyone that is attending today, We are running a conference in May a virtual conference. Jamie actually will be one of our presenters. So very excited for that. if you've logged on to LinkedIn in the last two months, then there's no chance you didn't hear about this conference cause that's all I'm talking about.
So for anyone that hasn't gotten their ticket, yet, we're doing a 50% off, for the rest of the week and the code to get that, which I'll also include in the email is LeanLegal50. So again, lean legal 50 at checkout to get 50% and yeah, hope to see you all there. again, thank you to everyone and have an amazing day.
Avi: Thanks so much, everyone. Bye.