Episode 8: Branding in-house legal with Laura Greenberg of Worksome

Meet Laura Jeffords Greenberg, the Senior Director of Legal and Compliance at Worksome. Not only is Laura heading up Legal in one of the fastest-growing companies in Denmark, she's also an ambassador for optimising legal teams. And today, we're talking optimisation - by defining in-house Legal's brand and purpose.

Welcome to Inspiring Legal, the podcast for inhouse legal. 

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Stine: My name is Stine and today I'm joined by Laura. Welcome, Laura. 

Laura: Hi. Thanks for having me. 

Stine: So for the listeners out there, Laura is a big contributor to the Openli community, having written several articles on a topic that is very close to our heart, about building the inhouse legal team's brand.  But before we jump into that and hear more about the importance and why you should be thinking about it, I think we should meet Laura. 

Laura, can you maybe just tell people who you are and maybe a little bit about your background?

Laura: Sure. I always have a difficult time knowing where to start.

So usually I try to get some things, you know, right out at the start, which is that I'm an American who is an expat living in Denmark, in Copenhagen, to kind of situate myself. I went to law school in California. So I'm a California licensed attorney and I've had a varied career throughout different states and countries in Europe. I've primarily been inhouse my whole career. So that sets me apart a little bit. It makes me a little different. 

Today I would say that I work in tech. But prior to that, I've also worked in sports and worked in media. And I'm very passionate about pushing our industry, the legal industry, and particularly inhouse teams forward to become more efficient, really to be optimized and be able to work better within our current business environment. 

Stine: So for those of you, when Laura is talking about those companies she's worked for, it's big companies like Unity and Red Bull. So she's being modest. She is a person who knows a lot when it comes to inhouse legal. 

So Laura, maybe just tell me a little bit about where did your passion come from when it goes to the kind of inhouse legal team brand? Like, where did you get that?

I think it's probably from really just working with the business and going in and having the business really just not excited to have a meeting with you, not excited to take a phone call with you, or maybe even some points being scared to come talk to you. I mean, we're there to help. We're a service organization. We serve the business and enable the business to thrive. So really we should be looked at as partners. And so, you know, just this barrier that would come up because people, you know, in some contexts have had negative experiences with legal or they think of television shows. Right? 

People have come with all these preconceptions about what a lawyer is or what a lawyer does. And I've found in most of my jobs, I've had to do education and relationship building and bridge building and selling what I'm doing. So then I can be more integrated into the business. So it's really, I think, probably out of necessity to do my job better.

But then also just on a personal level, you know, you want your colleagues to want to have meetings with you and not be upset or disappointed. Like, oh, I got to get on a call with legal. 

Stine: Yeah, those like, have you talked to legal? Do I have to?

Laura: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay, so when you're talking about legal brands and building that, it's as much about getting maybe away from the perception that legal is a naysayer or maybe somebody you couldn't talk to. So is that correctly understood? Yeah, kind of like, I would say like a dream crusher, right? 

Especially working in technology, working with developers. I think when people are, or even in the creative industries, when you're creating something, you don't necessarily want to sort of bring your baby to legal to then have it be, you know, crushed and smashed because, you know, of some regulations or just something that is going on. So that's also part of why, you know, in brand building, it's about when to work with legal. So come to legal before so we can work together to build whatever it is you're building.

So then you don't have those negative experiences of, you know, for example, building a product that's collecting all sorts of personally identifiable information and not building anything in that product to deal with regulations in the proper way.  

Stine: So if we then take your, you've written a whole series on this subject. So again, there is so much for us to cover. 

Could you give an intro to how do you see legal brands, where are we today and how have we maybe been evolving, hopefully? 

Laura: I think it probably just depends on one, the company and then the leadership of the legal team. But I definitely see, especially actually as part of the LinkedIn community and also different legal communities that are being built, like the OpenLink community, people are interested in pushing our industry forward and also the perception of legal, how we're doing things. You can look at everything from pushing from using plain language to adopting technology to talking about mental health of lawyers, where we're trying to push forward to humanize ourselves. And then also, I think, bring ourselves up to speed with other teams that are using technology to optimize. I think it's all about accessibility and humanizing. So I think there's definitely really great progress being made. 

Stine: But, you know, other kind of, I guess, like the early tech adoption curve, right? People are in different parts of their journey. But don't you think maybe that the legal teams are evolving too in this day and age? Like what we've seen from the community report that we did and that we're launching now, we can see that a lot of the legal professionals out there have been struggling with building relationships, getting that buy in and understanding of why legal is so important and when you can use legal. 

Do you think there is maybe also a shift in the inhouse legal teams in terms of mindsets? 

Laura: I think so. I think they're recognizing that in order to do your job, you have to sort of have a seat at the table or change the perception of legal. And also, I think legal teams are being asked to do more and take on additional responsibility. And that's where legal teams can showcase their leadership and other skills. Right. As lawyers, we have a great set of skills that I think in some instances is not fully being utilized by companies or by leadership teams. 

Stine: So if you want to get started building a good legal brand. How do you start? 

Laura: When I'm out, when I'm planning, I always like to start it like, where are we now? Like what do people think about us now? What kind of relationships? If I say the legal team in your company, what comes to mind with your business partners? So establishing what's happening now and then where do you want to be? And how do you establish now? 

Stine: Do you do surveys? 

Laura: Yeah, you can. I would definitely suggest doing surveys is a great way to gather information. You can also do brief informational interviews. So like all the jobs that I've come into, I have really done information gathering to find out, OK, what are your what are your biggest needs? What do you think about working with legal? What are your biggest struggles? So I definitely advocate for doing either surveys or talking to leadership with informational interviews. 

Stine: So then you're gathering information about what is your users experience of working with legal. And so when you've then gathered the findings. What's next?

Laura: Really, I think it depends on probably how big your legal team is, but either taking the whole team or leaders or managers of your team and looking at that and extracting different themes, you know, whether let's just say if you want to do worst case scenario, right. People do not enjoy interacting with the legal team. And what's the biggest complaint that people have is that it takes too much time and you're slow. So what is your legal brand? Right. Very negative. You're slowing things down. You're not a business enabler. 

So then once you've sort of identified your themes and you can use a whole different host of tools to do that, from building user profiles, right, to get to know your users a little bit more, then you can kind of start to look toward the future. And, you know, what do you want to be? What do you want to change? Do you want to speed up the process? Is that really what you know what the problem is with the business? Do you need to just build relationships more? Do you need more tools or what are things that can help you address, let's say, the negative issues that you that you spot? 

But then also, you know, what are the bright spots? What are you doing really well? And do you want to keep doing those things or do you want to pivot your brand a little bit? And I think your legal brand will change and evolve depending on the size of your company and where it is in its growth phase. 

So, for example, at Unity, I started when there were 15 lawyers. And when I left, there were about 65. So that's very right. And the company also grew from like a thousand to seven thousand. So your legal team brand interactions are going to be very different if you're a  person legal team versus a  person legal team. And what you want to work on in brand building will change. 

Stine: So maybe just a question, starting with a description. So here at openli, culture, our vision and mission is very much tied also into our brand. So every year within the company, we do what we call Culture Day. We have a discussion about what our values? What is it that we as a company want to stand for and be proud of, not just to the outside world, but also internally? How do we want to work together and talk to each other and collaborate? And so we define five values and every year we talk about those values. Do we still feel that those are representative of who we are? Do you see that legal teams should be doing the same as a way to then also maybe build their brand and leverage it within the organization? Or how would you go about it? 

Laura: I think that's wonderful. And I think all teams even can do that. It could be a whole legal team or maybe a legal team within the legal team. What are your guiding posts? What is going to drive your team forward? And what do you want your users to feel when they're working with you? Because that really helps in making decisions, whether it's values or mission or vision. 

You need some sort of guiding light. And then that also, right, we have to make so many decisions doing risk assessments or prioritizing or, you know, just answering questions for the business. That if you have very clear values or mission statement, then you can always go back to those and use those when working with the business. And by working from those, you know, that also then will inform your interactions with individuals. 

So, for example, at Unity, one of the sort of values was users first. And so we applied that in the legal team as our end users who were, you know, Unity business partners, but then also the end users of the product.So we have sort of this, you know, layered question when we're making decisions. Is this putting our users first? Meaning is this putting our business partners first? And is it putting the actual end users of the Unity product first as well? And so I think that's very important. 

Otherwise, you're going to have people making decisions based on, you know, their past experience and what they value. And that will often fluctuate. So then you'll have people experiencing your legal team service, you know, in a variety of different ways. And it won't match up. So some people will, you know, really appreciate their legal counsel for showing, you know, sort of this value or brand. While another one will have a completely different experience. And from my point of view, I really like consistency. Right. So setting expectations and consistency. And so I think values, your brand, your mission, whatever you want to call it, helps you to develop that consistency when you're working. 

Stine: So maybe a question about that. How do you measure the consistency? How do you then make sure like if we take Unity, you're going from 15 to 65. 

How do you know or how do you find out or how do you measure that there is alignment, consistency? 

Laura: That's a great, great question. I think something a lot of teams, you know, that grow that quickly over that time have a hard time with. What I what I would say is really important is to have a legal operations function. So a legal operations function is going to help you run your business and can help you with gathering data and defining metrics. So when we have legal operations, you know, they can liaise with different departments who also have data and metrics that the legal team might not know about that then the legal team could also use. 

So I think that's one key aspect is to make sure that you have a legal operations function that can help you because I think otherwise as lawyers, right, that's, that's not my skill set or expertise. I've learned about it. But as a lawyer, I'm just like, all right, let's try to find data. And I'm trying to do my job as a lawyer. Plus also doing this, it's very hard. So making sure that you're devoting some time and resources to to that. 

And then you can start looking at a variety of things. You know, what do you already have in place? Like, are there engagement surveys? Do they ask any questions? If you're using software, let's say, you know, like Salesforce, can you extract any data from from that? Can you extract any data from JIRA if you're using a ticketing system, right, if we're just looking at quantifiable data, and then, as we spoke about before, surveys is also another great way to gather information. 

Hopefully, when you have managers and managers are having conversations and getting feedback about their team members all the time. So it's also sort of like a trickle down and then funneling information up to make sure that everyone's aligned. And I guess something that I sort of forgot is in the alignment, right, is you need to make sure that you actually have the clear values or mission statement and that you're talking about it. So then people can align themselves to that. 

One of the tools that I actually really like is the OKR process. So using objectives and key indicators, and how I found that it's helpful is to do it on a sort of project by project basis, because it's something that's very hard, like it's very hard to measure, let's say our day to day work of reviewing contracts. Right, that's a hard thing to measure. But you can measure and get information around projects. 

So let's just say if we're doing GDPR implementation or updating our privacy policy, there's something that we want to do around that. Then if we can put OKRs around that, it's much easier to think about getting metrics there. And, you know, you could do surveys within that project. So kind of chopping it into smaller bits, and then funnelling it all together, but ultimately having someone that has expertise in this area that can that can help you and talks to other business leaders and knows what information and data they have. 

The OKR process can also be used again to showcase to management what you're doing and the impact. So the OKR stands for objective key results. And for those of you who are working with it, well, your entire company is probably working with it. So it's a way again to kind of align legal with the rest of the organization. 

Stine: Many of the community members that we have are talking about not really measuring legal's value to the business. I think this is something that everybody would really like because you want to showcase what you're doing. You want to tell the world that legal is important because you know it's important, but not always is it recognized by others. 

So talking about OKRs, and you've done so, and your legal brand, could you come with a few examples of what could be an OKR or what could be some kind of measurement to showcase? 

Laura: Yeah, I think I was just talking about this actually on LinkedIn the other day. I think it was the objective was related. I think I made up some objective objective like be the happiest legal team ever. Right. Like the objective is sort of your vision. What do you your North Star? What do you want in the perfect world to achieve? And then what is information that is already being gathered by your company that you can use? 

So one of them again is engagement survey results for the legal team. You can have that and you have data for over a time period so you can compare. Retention data is also something that you can get from HR and then it's important to compare that to the rest of the company. You know, I also said by location and by team, right? So then those are some data sets. And then again, if you wanted to do surveys of your legal team, are we really, you know, the happiest legal team? And then getting information also what would make you happier? You know, what what do we need to do? What's important for the legal team? What would change those results? 

And so those are some of the data that you can use and then also use that to help feed in and make changes as you go forward. Now you alluded to what I wrote something on LinkedIn the other day. 

Stine: Laura, you are quite active on LinkedIn with amazing articles, job posts. Why? Like, don't get me wrong when I'm saying right, but so like you started this. 

Can you maybe just tell the listeners a little bit about Laura on LinkedIn? 

Laura: Yeah, I think really, the first thing I started with was during the pandemic, posting jobs in the games industry. So I noticed when in the beginning of the pandemic, when a lot of companies were laying people off, I actually saw a big uptick in legal team jobs in the games industry. And I was like, Huh, this is interesting. And so I started just gathering weekly gathering the job posts, and sharing them. And so I've been doing that ever since. And that was more just a, well, this is interesting, I can help people without any other thought. 

Actually, I was thinking the other day, I've inadvertently built a business actually around that, because I have people trying to apply to the jobs and sending me messages about helping me get them a job. And I'm like, I'm not a legal recruiter. I don't have aspirations to be a legal recruiter. Maybe I should have thought about this a little bit deeper. So that's, that's one area. 

But what what I do like doing is I like writing and, you know, have having worked for a long time as an in house counsel and been at a variety of different companies in a variety of different locations. And, you know, gone through highs and lows, I was like, I have a lot of opinions. Many of yours do. Exactly. But I wasn't so sure of them now. Now I'm like, yes, I am confident in my opinions. But I'd also like to get information or feedback from people. 

So one is that I enjoy writing. I want to write about something that I'm passionate about. And the writing process process also helps me clarify what I'm thinking about. So when I write, it's actually also helping me do my job. You know, if I'm thinking about leadership, and I'm actually going to write, write it down and try to gather my thoughts in a way that I would want to present to be readable to an audience, that helps me clarify my position. 

It's sort of a, I guess, a circular exercise that I enjoy, but then also helps me in my day to day work. And I found that, you know, hopefully, maybe some of learning from my mistakes, hopefully, it's, you know, usually from learning from mistakes that you can share. So and other people don't, you know, have to do the same things, or they can learn from my mistakes and grow. 

And then another aspect that I really like of LinkedIn, I think it was probably mainly during the pandemic, but a lot of people got together and really started using it more to network and share ideas and exchange ideas, because we weren't able to do that, you know, with in person events. So I also enjoy reading, you know, from other experts, learning from them, I know, I don't have all the answers. So it's sometimes, you know, it's a great way to also crowdsource information. So I really enjoy it. 

Stine: I think many are in the community, but also in general, when we're talking about legal professionals, they are on LinkedIn, but it can be a little terrifying. So kind of like put yourself out there. And maybe not the most natural thing to do. I think if you're in marketing, like, you will have a field trip. But for legal professionals, it can be intimidating. 

Any good advice, tips? 

Laura: I mean, that goes back to a good point. When I first started out, and I wanted to be a sports lawyer, I actually had advice from lawyers that said, don't be on social media. Don't do anything to let people know about your personality, or who you are, right? You just need to be a lawyer and you need to be super buttoned up, clean, you know, scrubbed from all social media. And I did that for a little bit. 

And I tried to be at a law firm and really like buttoned up in a suit and all of these things. And it felt terrible to really stifle your personality. I think first of all, that's terrible advice. I wouldn't recommend that for anyone. But I do think that lawyers we come from that viewpoint, or we've probably been given that advice. We're supposed to be professional. And obviously, we do have a responsibility and duty of care, especially being licensed. But I think that doesn't stop you from showing your personality. 

And also, like, again, when you're building your brand, in the legal department, no one wants to interact with like a bland sheet of paper that has no personality, right? So personality is important. That's how you build relationships. And also, you know, as a leader, you need to be authentic. And again, if you're stifling yourself, I think people can feel that and see that. So I think part of it is breaking out of this cycle of, you know, what a lawyer should be or how we should act. And then the second is, yeah, just I follow copywriters as well on LinkedIn and people who build their business. 

So people have a business of telling other people how to write for LinkedIn. And a lot of it, the recommendations are you just need to start writing. Right? You probably have so much. One of the things I think I've realized is that I've been through a lot of things. And I actually have a lot that I can share that is valuable. So I think a lot of people also probably discount their experiences, and that they don't have anything valuable to share when they actually do have a lot to share. I mean, even right, like, let's say, first or second year lawyers, I want to know about their experiences. I want to know what they're thinking as they enter, enter the workforce. 

And I want to know what they're thinking about the things that they've learned. And I think that's really valuable. And I think that's what I've learned is that I can tell a lot of people that I'm not a copywriter. I can tell a lot of people that I'm not a copywriter. And I can tell a lot of people that I'm not a copywriter. What has it meant for you? Like, in terms of like, you've been writing on a regular basis? Has it made a difference? More followers, more networking opportunities, career opportunities? I think the first is, you know, it's something that I enjoy, and it's a habit. So that's sort of like a fun, you know, something fun to do it help. And second, it helps clarify, right, myself, and some of the content that I write, I can also use in my job. So it's definitely like networking has been huge, right? I have conversations and friends that I've developed from LinkedIn. 

So that sense of community, I think is really great. I do have more followers, but I don't necessarily use that as a measurement. Yeah, exactly. I do use an app called Shield, which is I think it's a Danish startup, as well, which is just out of curiosity, because I like data, you know, what are what are what's content that people are responding to? So then, oh, maybe I should write more about that. So I will look at things like that, I assume. 

Yeah, it's led to a lot more connections, but then leads to things like this podcast, or, you know, writing for other, other outlets speaking on topics. I think we can actually add additional value to companies at some point. I do think that your followers, or if you develop a real presence on social media, it will help you get jobs. 

We've sort of seen that in, you know, legal tech software, where you have community managers, heads of community, right? Where you there are a couple lawyers who are, you know, TikTok and LinkedIn, sort of superstars within our community. And I think that's directly led to a career change and and to their jobs. So it will be interesting as we move along, will your online presence impact you impact or actually help push you over the line to get you a job make you a more attractive candidate. So talking about that, your best tip on who to follow on LinkedIn, or where you go to read inspirational content. 

Definitely LinkedIn, there's a lot of people that I follow for specific areas. So what I think I'll probably do is I can give you a list afterwards, we can put it in the show notes. For inspiration, definitely, you know, people on LinkedIn that I follow that I really like. I also love Harvard Business Review for management and people and working world tips. I'm also a big fan of different podcasts. One of them is revisionist history. That provides a lot of inspiration, because it's going back and revisiting topics in history, and sort of learning or showcasing what we didn't know or surprising findings. 

And I think a lot of that can actually be, you know, translated over into the workforce and really contextualizing and reframing or looking at assumptions or what we just assume, you know, how the past was, but it wasn't necessarily that way, or really, it was sort of this cascading, you know, sort of trail events that led led to this outcome. 

Stine: So a final question, Laura, who in the legal community is inspiring you the most right now? 

Laura: That's a that's a that's a hard question, because there are a lot of people, but since I just started, I guess, a new job at work some and started working with Rusty, who is the the general counsel and VP at work some, we both have had, we're both on the same page with our vision for what we think a legal department could be. I think we both bring unique skill sets. 

Working with him before he went on paternity leave. It was really reinvigorating and get it got me excited again about okay, what legal could be what is the legal team of the future? How can we be innovative? And so, you know, being able to have the license to do that and to think outside the box, and being supported also by the work some leadership I think like that's that's the most for me right now I feel most tangible, inspiring, exciting work because it's something that I that I'm actually doing and, you know, we're supported and in it together I like teamwork. 

Stine: And on that note, Laura, thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge on legal brand building. And for joining us on the podcast. 

Laura: Thank you so much for having me. It's been fun.

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.