Author | Innovation Advisor | Commercial Contracting Expert | Legal Operations Consultant
Innovative transactional attorney and legal operations consultant, with extensive experience in negotiating contracts and optimizing processes with creative law firm resourcing models, smart risk assumption, efficient outsourcing and automation. I have a passion for moving legal services into the modern era by focusing on legal department efficiencies, alternative legal service providers, metrics and data driven process improvements.
Regular speaker on the topic of legal process outsourcing, legal services innovation and contracting efficiencies.
What is your professional background and how did you become involved in the world of commerce and contracting?
I am a licensed US lawyer and the bulk of my career I was in-house legal counsel at Microsoft Corporation. My main responsibility was to provide legal support to the global procurement function. Over the course of 13+ years I revolutionized how Microsoft handled its purchasing agreements by refining templates, reallocating internal resources, creating playbooks, outsourcing and developing a centralizing contract management office on my team. I am a subject matter expert on commercial agreements with an operations focus. For the past three years I have been running a niche firm specializing in consulting with corporate legal departments on how to optimize their contracting process by re-imagining all aspects of how contracts are handled today: their policies, people, processes and systems. My team includes licensed US and international lawyers, enabling us to dive into the content of their templates and provide substantive advice on their negotiation positions. We provide a truly holistic view into the entire contracting process, bridging gaps between legal teams and their internal business counterparts through smart risk-taking, empowerment, training and realignment of responsibilities.
What are two personal achievements and contributions through your career?
Inspiring and influencing others:
I have always been on an unstated mission to enable women, especially early in their careers, to feel confident and powerful. The team I built while in Microsoft (at largest point had 22 people) was 85% women, across various functions: lawyers, paralegals, contract managers, operations managers. I ensured junior women had access to clients and had a voice in every discussion. My greatest influence, though, has come recently. When I published a book about legal innovation (during the pandemic nonetheless), I was so pleasantly surprised by the number of people who reached out to me to tell me how much my book inspired them to be more creative in their work. My favorite example is when a lawyer approached my via LinkedIn to tell me how my book inspired her, and we ended up planning a conversation. During that discussion, I realized she was exactly the kind of person I would want as part of my growing business, and now she is full-time on my team! I helped her shed some of the work that was not rewarding or where she wasn’t treated well, and join me in a journey together and contribute to building a business. She is not the only one like that. Several women on my team and I connected because of the ideas I share, and now we are a team of 6 women and 1 man. My favorite quote from a message I received from another reader, whom I’ve never met: “My jaw dropped multiple times reading your book Simple Guide to Legal Innovation. In particular, your assessment that in order for innovation to succeed, the "value must be obvious... [and] change has to be intuitive". YES YES YES!”
Innovation and entrepreneurship:
Innovation is core to what I seem to inspire people about. I left a safe and comfortable job in one of the word’s best companies to start a business. It was scary, but necessary for me to achieve my professional goals. Every day I work with clients to inspire change in how they work and help them be a little more brave in their choices. I started a business to help others be more innovative. Specifically, I wrote a book, a related workbook, and developed online courseware (Courses & Resources | lucybassli.com) to educate lawyers on how to be more innovative in their practice. I think there is a gap in education for lawyers to really understand what the buzzword “innovation” means. They will never be able to get out of doing things how they always have until they are able to embrace innovation in a more personalized and relevant way. So, I am filling that education gap for lawyers. I will also be publishing a book for corporate legal departments on how to methodically approach simplifying their contract review processes. I want to make the approach something pragmatic and tactical that every legal team can start to do on their own.
Covid-19 has illustrated the critical importance of helping women to realise their professional aspirations - what role have you played or are you currently playing within your organization to support women in their roles?
My team of consists of all women, with one exception (though he is a natural and genuine ally!) and I have intentionally pursued experienced women who felt unempowered to change their unsatisfying work situation or junior professionals who were a little lost and needed career guidance. This year has been a tough one for people to take chances/risks with their career, yet we grew very quickly this year as our work continued to grow. I provided other project work or hired on at least 3 women who found themselves without work due to Covid. My hiring is intentional, to give women opportunities to advance heir careers in ways they did not feel they could do on their own. Small things I do: bring junior team members into client meetings and make sure they have a speaking role and clear ownership; provide the infrastructure (website blog, email blast service, etc.) for the women on my team to play a role in developing business and contribute to our firm’s growth directly; women on my team only do work they enjoy with people they like (which includes clients) – that is part of our motto. A strict “no asshole policy” is in place which I firmly believe helps women more than men. I don’t ever want ANY woman on my team feeling like they were spoken down to by anyone, even a paying client. Life is too short.