#BakersDozen is a series of interviews with leading professionals in the fields of law, consulting, finance, tech, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in the legal business?
I grew up in Wisconsin and couldn’t wait to move to the east coast. I went to Mount Holyoke college as a cultural anthropology major and determined to be a newspaper reporter. After a summer of working for a small town weekly doing engagements/obits and being the unknown diner I knew I had to make a different career choice so I went to law school, ultimately getting both my JD and then an LLM in international banking law.
What do you do for a living right now?
I am currently working on marketing and business strategy for a regulatory compliance technology for the hedge fund and asset management community, which is being developed by Bloomberg.
What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?
Helping to develop a methodology for the valuation and settlement of claims against Lehman for structured notes issued globally which were largely adopted by bankruptcy courts in multiple global jurisdictions was challenging, exciting and rewarding.
Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?
The “legal industry” is a very broad term. Law firms for sure need to change their model for success. With increasing pressure from outside counsel guidelines something needs to give. Lawyers need to learn to be more commercial and to innovate their businesses
I think that the current state of legal education is unsustainable and we will see more and more students replacing classroom time with semesters in practice
You’re known for innovation and have been an inspiration to many. Who inspires you – and why?
Too kind! I’ve been inspired by folks at every firm I’ve been at. I love economic creativity
What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?
I frequently mentor young law students and encourage them to think broadly about the practice of law. Law firms are only one forum for the practice of law.
How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?
I believe that technology will be come more and more important to the practice of law. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence are recent examples, who knows what may develop in the future
In ten years, do you see an industry much as it is – or do you see new players, new technology and an altered state?
I do believe technology will continue to play a more and more important role in the legal field. I also think that the current state of legal education is unsustainable and we will see more and more students replacing classroom time with semesters in practice – hopefully resulting in graduates who are more prepared with practical skills
Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar? Should the distinction continue?
I do think there is a distinction between the two, while their goals may be similar; ultimately the lawyer has a fiduciary responsibility to their client
What are your thoughts on the increasing availability of data to guide client-side procurement of legal services?
As a consumer of legal services I’m thrilled with the transparency, it drives competition and efficiency.
Lawyers have typically regulated to keep non-lawyer investors out but that’s a two-edged sword these days. What are your thoughts?
There is an inherent conflict of interest between management and counsel. Counsel should be primarily focused by actions that are in the best interest of their clients.
What’s the one most significant factor that will drive change in your view?
If there was a way to introduce an advisory board whose role was to monitor activities for conflicts of interest
Are we seeing the demise of the “profession” and the real emergence of the “business” of law?
There is no issue with building the business of a law firm as long as great care is taken to protect the integrity of the fiduciary relationship between client and lawyer
What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Breaking the old models where older partners work fewer hours but continue to collect the lion’s share of the profits
As a consumer of legal services, I’m thrilled with the transparency, it drives competition and efficiency.
What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the sector looking forward?
I would like to see more law firms get involved with litigation financing
Do you think law can improve its track record on diversity and inclusion? How?
Reducing the number of years students spend in law school through programs such as semester in practice will result in students earning living wages faster with less debt thereby opening the practice of law up to all
Will the current regulatory framework around law help or hinder it in the future
While increasing regulations create more and more opportunities for the legal community it is stifling to business. Small business owners are in particular jeopardy
If you had to do it all over again, would you? Or what would you do differently?
I tease my parents that I’m going to ask them to pay to put me through medical school… I have loved the opportunities I’ve had to use my legal training both in traditional and non-traditional roles, buy side and sell side. My current role at Bloomberg draws on the skills I’ve acquired at both.
If a law firm was a startup pitching for investors, would you be an investor?
It depends. I’d need to see a unique business plan that focuses on innovation and development of talent as well as a commercial representation of clients.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Love what I do but with unlimited free time I’d play a lot more golf!
What would you like to be known for?
I’d like to be known as a commercially driven, creative problem solver
What would surprise everyone if they knew (they may now).
I worked in an acupuncture clinic between college and law school sterilizing needles
What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?
Golf of course!
What’s your favorite sports team?
Rider Cup? Team USA!
What’s your favorite city?
What’s your favorite food?
Anything that’s served by a food truck
What’s your nickname – and why?
“L” I guess because Lisa is already so short