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"Strive to empower the business": building legal at Sorare

Hi! 👋 Who are you?

I'm Gabrielle Dorais, I'm the General Counsel at Sorare.

Sorare is a sports entertainment company where players can buy, sell, trade NFT backed digital playing cards and also play them in free fantasy game.

What does the legal team look like at Sorare? 

The legal team consists of two attorneys, myself included, serving a business of 50 people. We’re aiming to grow to twelve this year.

Which teams does legal collaborate with every day?

Legal collaborates with each and every team across the company. I think legal should be positioned as a cross-functional partner - attorneys are best able to serve and further the interests of internal clients and the business at large where there is regular and open communication and collaboration.

This can be through direct counselling (for contracts, the product, and so on) or through self-service programs to empower teams with legal knowledge.

Additionally, being part of the management team means I have to wear a number of different hats - my role involves collaborating with and advising the rest of the leadership team on strategic initiatives, company direction and growth.

“Sorare has ambitious plans for growth. Legal wants to be able to serve that vision and work hand in hand with the business to help them achieve it”

Sorare raised an incredible $680m Series B shortly before you joined as the GC. What did you prioritize in order to enable the business in your first few weeks?

sorare-general-counsel

In my initial few weeks, I prioritized hiring, and establishing legal as a strategic partner and advisor. The executive team at Sorare has ambitious plans for growth in the fantasy sports space. Legal wants to be able to serve that vision and work hand in hand with the wider business to help them achieve it. In order to do so, I’ve worked hard to understand:

  • The product
  • The growth plan
  • Current projects in the business
  • Ongoing discussions between teams and partners

Part of legal's job is to be able to serve as ambassadors to regulators and other legal teams - we're usually the team overseeing contract negotiations and we know about each and every aspect of the business. 

This means we can understand the nuances of the business while also being able to translate and educate internal clients, regulators, legal counterparts, and more, who might not be as collaborative. I'm prioritizing that granular knowledge so I can be the most effective GC as we scale.

The legal team also needs a diversity of expertise, especially for a multifaceted product like Sorare’s. To this end I have been working with our talent acquisition team, as well as external firms, to find the best candidates that can establish the various aspects of the legal team.

What do you look for in the best candidates?

We're always looking for sharp, business-minded attorneys who are intellectually curious and can emphasize leveraging in-house expertise, as opposed to outsourcing. It’s also important that they aren't afraid to dive into a project headfirst.

With a scaling business, comes an increase in contract volumes - how do you tackle that challenge alongside all your other responsibilities?

I try to align as much as possible with business interests, but also strive to empower the business. I make sure they have everything they need at their fingertips.

It’s important to be unafraid of an “all hands on deck” approach; I try to be a GC who is willing to roll up her sleeves, get her hands dirty and be an individual contributor. 

Scaling also involves streamlining clunky or repetitive processes - tasks like template creation; compiling clause libraries so my team and I don’t feel like we’re reinventing the wheel; and building out a self-service legal function with easy-to-use templates and explainers for colleagues outside of legal. 

In order for a business to scale, legal teams should empower their internal clients so that they can really hit the ground running from day one.

sorare-general-counsel

What other projects are currently on your 'to do' list? 

So many! I’m the first legal hire at Sorare and really excited to build the legal function from the ground up. That work involves finding smart, talented and innovative lawyers to join the team and help drive the function. 

I’m also looking to implement tools that allow internal stakeholders to leverage legal’s data center. Contracts contain the parameters of engagements between a company and third parties; in other words, things we absolutely must do and things we cannot do under any circumstances. 

We want to improve our contracts such that anyone in the business can tap into that data without first having to wade through legalese, play a guessing game or ask the legal team to translate. 

Finally I’m looking for ways to track legal KPIs, implement streamlined processes, and build out a data-driven and customer-focused legal team. 

"Legal operates at its best when it is embedded in the company, and not when it is considered a support team operating in parallel"

You previously established the legal team and led a Series C round at Meero. How did that experience inform the way you approached this role at Sorare? 

I found that my experience at Meero really solidified my view that legal should work as cross-functionally as possible. This could be anything from giving finance teams contract data in granular detail, to engaging in the development of new products or initiatives from the first conversation, to leadership and corporate governance. 

Building out the team at Meero taught me that legal operates at its best when it is embedded in the company, and not when it is considered a support team operating in parallel.

What's been the most challenging aspect of your role so far? 

There are so many exciting projects in play at Sorare, and also specifically for the legal team. This has required jumping right in, triaging and moving fast while still trying to deliver stellar legal service. Currently the team is small and our bandwidth is limited so we are working to prioritize needs from across the business while we scale the team, and that can be a challenge.

And the most rewarding? 

Getting to establish relationships across the company and with great partners, athletes, leagues and clubs. Also learning about the cutting-edge technology behind our product and having the opportunity to engage with its evolution. I’m also really enjoying the talent-sourcing aspect of growing the legal team. 

Speaking of athletes - it’s so exciting to hear about Serena Williams joining Sorare's board! 

Thank you! It’s really exciting to see a groundbreaking businesswoman and world-class athlete sign onto Sorare’s board. I think generally the more women with a seat at the table, the better - and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Thanks, Gabrielle!

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