A Journey to Legal Operations: Company Culture Changed My Career

June 22, 2023

By Jeff Kruse

Company culture changed my career.

When I first went in-house as Senior Counsel for a large medical device company, I swore to my law firm colleagues that I would not change. I would not engage in “corporate speak.” I would not adopt the behaviors and mindsets of the company.

I was the litigator the company hired to manage the largest litigation, regulatory, government investigation, and public relations crisis the company had faced. I saw no need to change.

As Senior Counsel, in addition to managing litigations and government investigations, I also supported the subsidiary’s business functions. I supported Regulatory, Compliance, Marketing, Corporate Communications, R&D, the Warranty group, and the Customer Support team. Plus, I answered to the Finance team about legal spend, budgets, reductions, and reporting.

Like any new in-house lawyer supporting business functions, I attended the business function meetings to get to know the people, what they did, and how I could help them. I learned their languages, I saw how they operated, and slowly but surely, I began adopting their culture.

At the time, I did not realize the company had brainwashed me. I was working for a medical device company where continued commercial success meant that each subsequent generation of the devices we made had to be better than the last. They had to last longer, have more functionality, and be more innovative than the competition.

The company truly had a culture of contin- uous improvement that pervaded every business function. The Marketing Depart- ment came to me seeking permission to make changes to improve operations. The Regulatory, Quality, and R&D teams also sought guidance for improvements. Every group with which I interacted looked for ways to improve.

Resistance was futile. The company culture of continuous improvement assimilated me.

There was no incredible epiphany. I just started waking up in the mornings and wondering if my legal team could do certain activities more efficiently or if we could change the way we operated to save the company money. My team then ran incredible projects and made remarkable changes to improve our operations. They were amazing and won awards for the great improvements they made.

As a result of my assimilation, I became passionate about legal operations and helping legal professionals find better, easier, more efficient, and more productive ways to do their jobs so they can serve their clients better.

The company culture changed my passion from litigation to legal operations, and I could not be happier.


Published in Legal Operators Magazine, #2 2023 on June 22, 2023 at 42-44