In this series of interviews with legal's key internal clients, we learn all about what effective collaboration looks like, what 'excellent' looks like, and what ultimately they want from their legal colleagues. Read the whole collection here: Enabling The Business
Mark Flowers is the Chief Technology Officer at Juro. Juro is the all-in-one contract automation platform that enables all teams to streamline the creation, execution and management of routine contracts at scale. Before Juro, Mark was the VP Engineering at Aircall.
What does your day-to-day involve?
No two days are the same! I spend a reasonable amount of time in meetings across strategic and delivery-related topics, ensuring that our product and engineering teams exceed expectations.
I also spend time digging into the product, technology, engineering and work trends to make better informed decisions.
I consider myself lucky to be able to work with some great teams and individuals across the entire business.
Being an effective communicator is important - there’s nothing worse than a legal agreement going into a black hole
Before you worked with lawyers, what was your perception of them?
I grew up in a world where careers in law weren’t really discussed, unless it was around criminal law. The perception was that it was probably an elitist career fulfilled by the super intelligent.
How has that perception changed?
Having worked with legal teams over the last 30 years my perception around it being a purely elitist career has been proven wrong.
Some of the most amazing people I have worked with have been in those legal teams. They all know what they are doing (or can find out the answer) and are all really detail oriented and focused.
They are also some of the busiest people across the whole organization with so many people needing their support.
How often did you work directly with legal in your previous roles?
Collaboration has always been ad hoc rather than at a regular cadence. There were times where we’ve had to negotiate several supplier contracts all at once, and other times where there’s been a greater workload from a compliance perspective, or employee-related tasks to complete.
Examples of the projects we worked together on included:
- GDPR and compliance around data
- Local legislation, with my team wanting a better understanding on that subject
- Routine contracts, like supplier agreements, NDAs, MSAs and so on - making sure these contracts were issued in a timely manner
Having a legal team on board that understands the pressure other teams are also under can make a huge difference to how colleagues work together
In what kind of situations would you turn to the legal team?
Generally when we need detailed advice or their involvement is part of a business workflow, also when working on fundraising or due diligence.
Compliance and legislative knowledge is a huge area where the legal teams can add value directly to the product, and help ensure product teams get it right.
What soft skills are essential for an effective in-house legal team?
Empathy is really important. Having a legal team on board that understands the pressure other teams are also under can make a huge difference to how colleagues work together.
Having strong attention to detail and being an effective communicator is also important - there’s nothing worse than a legal agreement going into a black hole with no feedback or updates.
And what does poor collaboration look like?
Poor collaboration is when there’s no real-time communication or visibility as to what is going on with your project.
The legal persona can have a tendency to work on their deliverables in isolation. Externally it can be frustrating if you have no updates or if simple agreements take weeks to agree with no explanation as to why.
Want to hear from other C-suite leaders on how they interact with legal? Read the collection in full: 'What the business wants from legal in 2023'.