🔊 Podcast #8 - Forward's Thomas Scott & Matt Gipple on Blending Tech Culture with Legal Principles

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Legal Operations
Industry Insights

TLDR

  • Forward is a revolutionary preventive healthcare membership that puts you in control of your health, with world-class doctors supported by technology.
  • Lawyers at startups are responsible for making things happen - this means nonstop learning and deciding where and when to take risks
  • Learn how to show where legal should and shouldn't be used
  • Don't underestimate the importance of intellectual curiosity
  • Communicate directly and with a belief in your objective

Resources Mentioned:

Intro

Matt Gipple and Thomas Scott, leading lawyers at Forward, discuss some common questions concerning the legal side of tech startups.

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Entering the Tech Space

  • It is important to understand the language of engineering in order to understand the dynamics of the space
  • “Engineering is the function of a company, so you have to learn how engineers think and talk and what motivates them”
  • Try to set yourself up environment where persistent, perpetual learning is encouraged

The Role of A Lawyer in a Highly Regulated Startup

  • In this scenario, lawyers are responsible for making things happen
  • Constantly helping your company figure out what rules cover their product/initiative and what you need to get done to launch
  • Being able to take the necessary risks to keep the company and culture progressing forward
  • “For companies that are small and trying to grow, there is risk all over the place, but there is also risk in not stepping forward”

Performing in Multiple Roles

  • It is important to learn to frame tasks in terms of tradeoffs
  • Ex: “For the first time, legal will go through this with you, but after that it won’t make sense to pay lawyers to do this”
  • Analyzing what the company is ready for and when
  • Having an idea of what a mature company looks like, and knowing “when is the right time” to start doing something can be really important

On Culture and Tone

  • Two of the most important qualities a person can have in the legal startup space are a comfort with change and an intellectual curiosity
  • The people who end up being the best fit are almost always nerds about something
  • For a culture in a legal team, you want people who develop relationships and dialogues around questions instead of finding narrow answers
  • Don’t underestimate the downside cost of hiring someone who isn’t the right fit

Approaching Regulatory Issues in an Unfamiliar Industry

  • Do as much reading as possible, conferences, talking to people in the space, learning the buzzwords
  • Lean on outside counsel to give you context
  • “You hired me because you think I'm great [as a generalist], but I'm going to spend money getting smart on these [specific] issues, and you want me to do that”
  • Go to first principles
  • “What are the underlying things that a regulator would be worried about?”
  • Reason by analogy
  • Approaching regulators with a straightforward and honest philosophy
  • We believe we have a service that’s going to be really powerful and valuable to people, and we’re not afraid of that or ashamed of that or trying to hide anything”
  • Be very clear and direct, don’t try to play games or omit things

About Lawtrades

Lawtrades is a software company that builds legal infrastructure for in-house teams to scale their operations. We develop software that serve as the connective tissue between an organizations in-house legal team, a tech-enabled workforce, and sophisticated analytics to help companies solve complex legal issues. To meet a Lawtrades lawyer, especially those specializing in hyper-growth tech companies, create a position.