Culling the Noise of InHouse 21—Best Moments and Key Takeaways

Culling the Noise of InHouse 21—Best Moments and Key Takeaways

InHouse 21 ended only a few days ago, but the practical guidance it delivered will be top of mind for months to come. 

For two days, we learned how legal teams at Meta, Twilio, Square, Compass, McDonald’s, and more are deploying internal and external teams and resources more effectively to adapt to rapidly changing environments. We also found new ways to cull the noise with Logikcull, we ran a zero-casualty hot wings challenge with Amy Sellars, and even hosted an award ceremony to celebrate those legal teams that are transforming the legal practice. 

And now, we’re here to cull the noise and focus on the signal—the key takeaways and hard-to-forget moments from InHouse 21.

Susan Packal, Sr. Director of Legal Operations and Chief of Staff at Twilio, on Cross-Pollinating Successful Tools and Tactics Across Teams

In their session on how legal operations can lay the groundwork for the next period of growth, ops leaders Susan Packal, Sr. Director of Legal Operations and Chief of Staff at Twilio, and Stephanie Lamoreaux, Legal Operations Lead at Square, agreed that a great way to uplevel functions across teams is to source ideas and processes from high-performing groups and cross-pollinate them. In this way, each function or business group within legal acts as its own lab of experimentation. Successful experiments are shared widely. 

“In a rapidly growing legal ops team, you need to get out there and learn what other teams are doing and what tools they’re using to act as a connecting tissue among them.” - Susan Packal, Senior Director of Legal Operations and Chief of Staff at Twilio

Yoon Ettinger, Associate General Counsel at Southern Company Gas, on How to Establish a Successful Partnership with Outside Counsel

During this insightful discussion, Yoon Ettinger, Associate General Counsel at Southern Company Gas, Tom Stephenson, Director of Legal Operations at Credit Karma, and Julie Richer, Director of Legal Operations at Bath & Body Works, traded best practices for collaborating with outside counsel and vendors.

Ettinger’s point summarizes one of the key takeaways of the conversation: outside counsel can’t make sound legal decisions in a vacuum. As an in-house professional, it is your job to educate them on the business, show them your pain points, and turn your relationship with them into a true partnership to prevent blockages and get the best outcome possible.

“One of the most important things is to set expectations early with your outside counsel. For me that includes them understanding what my litigation strategy is and our company code of ethics.” - Yoon Ettinger, Associate General Counsel at Southern Company Gas

Worley’s Tammy Thompson on Saving Seven Figures by In-Housing Subpoena Responses

Thompson shared how she was able to save Worley over $1 Million in a subpoena response by in-housing the entire process in a simple and efficient way thanks to available technology.


McDonald’s Legal DEI Director, Kristen Jones, on Creating Safe Spaces for Difficult Conversations

During this insightful conversation, Lloyd Johnson of Chief Legal Executive LLC, Omar Sweiss of Justice Bid, and Kristen Jones of McDonald’s laid out a four-step approach to implementing a successful DEI strategy in legal teams, describing how to overcome challenges you’ll face along the way. 

In exploring ways in which organizations can successfully drive DEI efforts, Jones made a great point about the importance of being able to have difficult conversations with the support of those who are in charge.

“Individuals have to see that I can speak up and not be retaliated against. I can speak up and my leader thanks me for that as opposed to any kind of negative reaction.” - Kristen Jones, Director of Legal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at McDonald’s

Amy Sellars Shared How Legal Ops Can Get Buy-In From Other Teams—While Doing Hot Wings Challenge

If there’s a moment that earned a place in InHouse’s history books, it’s the hot wings challenge between Robert Hilson, VP of Marketing at Logikcull, and Amy Sellars, Assistant General Counsel and Director of Cardinal Health’s Discovery Center of Excellence. 

While trying out increasingly hotter sauces (culminating with Da Bomb, whose flavor is described as “beyond insanity”), Sellars walked us through her transformational approach to eDiscovery and litigation and offered tips on how legal operations can show their value to other teams.

Brex’s First Legal Hire, Vince Cogan, on Building a Solid Foundation for Legal Teams in Fast-Growing Companies

In this Q&A, the former GC and current VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Brex, Vince Cogan, shared guidance on how to build a foundational culture and values that ensure long-term success for legal teams in fast-growing companies. 

See Cogan’s take on how the first legal hires must balance “survive-today” and “thrive-tomorrow” thinking to create scalability and resilience while dealing with their most pressing issues.


Akshay Verma on How Meta is Optimizing Outside Legal Spend Through “Intelligent AFAs”

Building the metaverse is not the only groundbreaking project Meta is undertaking. On the legal front, Akshay Verma and his team are getting away from the traditional per-hour billing model of outside counsel by using “intelligent AFAs,” or value-based billing strategies that help them greatly optimize costs.

“Getting away from the billable model is getting away from unfettered input of effort. And there’s a big difference between effort and the value of the thing that needs to get done.” - Akshay Verma, Director of Legal Operations at Meta

Megan Coker on Overcoming Challenges Legal Teams Face in Hyper-Growing Organizations

“Move fast and break stuff”—it’s a famous startup mantra, but it certainly doesn’t apply to your legal team. As the Deputy General Counsel of an exponentially growing company such as Workrise, Megan Coker has cracked the code for effective prioritization and found a reasonable balance between inside and external management of matters.

And to put a bow on In, we closed InHouse 21 with our second annual Culler Awards. This was a moment to recognize those individuals and organizations that are establishing new standards of discovery excellence and innovation and generating a massive impact—from taking innocent people out of jail to fighting for a better future for our planet.

And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned as we'll make all the InHouse 21 sessions available on-demand very soon so you can watch or replay your favorite parts at your own pace!

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