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
Alice De Courcy is the Chief Marketing Officer at Cognism. This is a platform that helps businesses find, engage and close their dream prospects. Before Cognism, Alice was responsible for the marketing strategy at Juro.
Before you worked with lawyers, what was your perception of them?
I have a background in legal tech so I was always a big advocate of lawyers. Even with this in mind, there was a part of me that enjoyed being ‘lawyer-free’ at Cognism in the early years as I built out marketing; I remembered how often things would stall in my previous role at a large corporation as soon as anything reached legal.
How has your perception changed?
My life has been made so much easier by having a legal function at Cognism. As we have grown and as we have more eyes on us, both from competitors and investors, it has been a huge time-saver and brings peace of mind to have the backing of a legal team.
For example, we received a cease-and-desist letter from a competitor recently regarding one of our campaigns - and rather than causing mass panic or stopping revenue generating activity, the issue was squashed and dealt with in a matter of days.
It was addressed pragmatically, and subsequently we developed a clear process and protocol for these types of campaigns moving forward, meaning we can scale them with confidence. This is really valuable.
Our legal team understands that revenue and compliance are our two core drivers and they find ways to make them work in harmony rather than against each other
What are the areas where legal can be most useful to a marketing team or leader?
GDPR compliance is a big area for marketers. Our legal team are always on top of this evolving issue and ensure that our processes and procedures fully adhere to all the requirements.
Competitor messaging and campaigns also benefit from legal input. If you are in a market with competitors, then you likely run comparison pages and Google ads targeting their brand name and other such tactics.
It’s important for your legal team to set out your company position in relation to these and to establish clear guardrails so that you can scale the tactics while remaining compliant.
What can legal do to help support a go-to-market (GTM) team trying to grow revenue rapidly?
Reduce or limit risk, without impacting speed and growth. This is no easy feat, but when done well it unlocks and frees your GTM team from carrying this burden.
It is a huge relief for me to know I have the tools, processes and procedures in place to keep my team and our activities compliant, but without preventing us from scaling or blocking us in any way.
What would poor collaboration look like?
Unresponsive. Large corporate interactions with legal left me pretty frustrated. A campaign could be blocked for weeks because the legal team hadn’t got around to the terms and conditions yet.
I know if I have a legal question I can get a steer on it within the day - so if I’m ever unsure, I’ll ask
Have you been in a scaling company when it hired its first lawyer? If so, what was the turning point that led to that decision?
Cognism operates in a space that requires a big focus on compliance and GDPR. We also have high volumes of deals.
The combination of the two meant that we quickly needed our own in-house legal team. We had outgrown the role of compliance manager pretty quickly, and were spending large sums on external legal counsel.
What soft skills do you think are important in a legal team?
Our legal team is incredibly relatable and approachable. They are pragmatic, they understand that revenue and compliance are our two core drivers and they find ways to make them work in harmony rather than against each other.
I have been so impressed with how our Head of Legal has set a great tone within the company for what legal teams can do.
Turning the question around, what can marketing do to enable legal?
When in doubt, ask. If you know that involving legal won’t block your project, then this way of working ensures enhanced transparency across departments. I know if I have a legal question I can get a steer on it within the day - so if I’m ever unsure, I’ll ask.
Find out more about what business leaders expect of their legal team - read the collection in full: 'What the business wants from legal in 2023'.