Episode 3: Recruiting for in-house legal

What should I look for when hiring for in-house legal? Join Stine as she gets into the subject of recruiting the right people for the right job.

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Welcome back to this episode of Inspiring Legal, where we will talk about recruiting. I know that when you start off and you're just you, it's easy in the sense that you're the only one supporting the business but of course it's not easy when it comes to only being you. When you then have the ability and get the permission from the budgets to go out and hire your first inhouse legal, what should you think of; how should you do the recruitment? 

What I learned from my past when I was at Trustpilot, which was where I was for six years andI was part of building out the legal team, is that the first hire I did was actually one of the most difficult ones. Firstly, you need to figure out where is the biggest need, where's the biggest pain and going from there then decide where should you do that hire? It's easy if you're only in one location but let's imagine that you have teams or offices across the world, where should you hire that first person? The easy thing to do is to hire the person and make sure that they're sitting next to you because that way you are really able to get them on boarded. You're able to easily just support that person in their onboarding process with your company.  But it might not be where the company has the biggest needs.

So, the first thing I would always do is start by figuring out where should that person be located. When I found out where that was also then figuring out what teams are requiring the support because it could be various people in terms of skill sets.If you're hiring somebody for the tech team, the inhouse legal person might have a different background or different type of personality compared to if that person is supporting sales. 

In my experience and what I did was I needed somebody to join that was supporting the US sales team, a very different cultural setup compared to being from Northern Europe.I found out that it was super helpful to do a test. I gave them a contract as part of the interview process because in that way I got a sense of firstly their risk habitat, how they saw contracts, how they did the negotiations, what was their opinion on limitation of liability and where did they see the errors, the problems,but also where the contracts were fine. I gave them the same contract which also made it easier for me to do the comparisons. But what I found to be most insightful was to get their insights as to why they found the flags that they did, how they would be doing the contract negotiation with the vendor and also what have been their experiences previously negotiating these types of deals. 

But what I also found to be really helpful was to get the person from the teams that this legal counsel would be supporting to join the conversations. The reason why that was super beneficial was due to the fact that not only were able to see how they did the contract review, but I could also see how they would be supporting the business. Were they starstruck when they saw the VP of sales or were they still super approachable and friendly, but able to hold their ground? Because that's a part of being in house legal too. 

You are getting contracts and you're pushed sometimes end of quarter because you need to close deals.But some of the deals might not be worth closing because the risks are too big. So, when the person is sitting, let's say across theVP of sales, you are able to see how they communicate, how they are able to stand up for themselves and how they're coming across and interacting.

And the next beautiful thing about it is that if the VP of sales is joining, I'm just giving an example, because it could also be marketing if that person is supporting the marketing teams, well, you also get the buyinfrom that person, from that stakeholder. Meaning if you hire this person and they've signed off, they're more inclined to take that person under their wings, include them in the team, welcome them and support them.I found out that I wasn't only getting good things from it in terms of the validation of the candidate, but also afterwards in the onboarding process.

And it also made it much easier for the legal person that joined because they already knew more people within the business, meaning they were more incorporated into the culture already from the get go, because then met more people from various teams. 

So I think my biggest learnings from it was to test to see the qualifications, the mindsets and how they do the contract negotiations and getting people from the organization to join the interviews because benefits tio this are more than just one.

And finally, what I also found to be super important is to make sure that when you're hiring that first person that you do it open mindedly, especially if you're hiring not for the location where you're located, because it will require so much more because there are different cultural mindsets and you have different legal backgrounds. 

One thing is that the legal education that you might have in Northern Europe is different from the one in Southern Europe and it's different from the US. It's different from Asia. So, be very, very thoughtful of where you decide to do that hire because, well, people are different, which is also a strength. 

The reason why I'm talking about this is because Jessica is joining our podcast.You might not know Jessica, but you'll know her soon.Jessica is the COO of Whereby. Not only is she running a large part of Whereby's organization, she has a legal degree. And on top of that, she also has an HR background. She's been doing people and culture operations as well. And Jessica will be sharing insights into how they're recruiting for inhouse legal positions.

I am super excited to hear what Jessica's feedback is, how Whereby is doing the recruitment, and what they're looking for when they're hiring their inhouse legal team. So stay tuned for that episode. It is coming soon.

Thank you so much for listening to Inspiring Legal. Remember to subscribe and if you want more information, you can always go to openli.com/community.