Episode 12

Navigating Ownership Transitions From PE to Public Holdings: Brian Chase, GC, ServiceChannel

Episode summary

Introduction: 00:00

  • Introducing Brian Chase, ServiceChannel’s GC.
  • ServiceChannel and what it does in the facilities management space.

Navigating transitions in ownership structures and responsibilities: 1:13

  • How ServiceChannel went from private equity-run, to venture-backed, to acquired by a public conglomerate, Fortive.
  • Pushing the CEO and CFO to seek out venture dollars as an investment strategy and to seek out new viewpoints within the board.
  • Taking on HR responsibilities in addition to being GC when the new head of HR didn’t join.
  • Getting involved in different functional areas of the company and filling in where you were needed, from sales ops to lease management.

Lack of communication leading to frustration regarding desired roles and responsibilities: 7:30

  • Falling into a role that’s more “VP of Legal” than “General Counsel” due to miscommunication and uncertainty about his role after the acquisition.
  • The importance of being candid with company leaders about your expectations from your role, and their expectations from you.
  • Experiencing pitching in for other functions outside of Legal, like sales, marketing, product, etc.

Being the GC of a subsidiary in a public holdings company: 10:03

  • Different reporting structures under a holding company.
  • Reporting to your own company as well as having a dotted line to report to the parent company.
  • Availability of shared resources and access to a network of GCs working at other subsidiaries under the group.

Building internal credibility and expanding beyond legal: 12:14

  • Taking the time to learn in the initial months after joining a company and refraining from making any drastic changes.
  • Building rapport and asking to be present at meetings so that internal teams come to respect your opinions and suggestions.
  • Gaining trust through responsiveness and being the “connector” between teams and information.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and communicating them: 15:39

  • Using the StandOut assessment to identify strengths or “superpowers” in the workplace.
  • How knowing your strengths can provide self-awareness.
  • Understanding motivators and triggers can improve productivity and collaboration.

Brian’s experience as employee #31 at Foursquare: 20:03

  • Early employees making important decisions and wearing many hats, such as learning code to update the privacy policy.
  • Building strong relationships helps to build rapport and credibility in the industry.
  • How early decision-making sets the foundation at a company, both within the legal team and the industry as a whole.
  • Going from outside counsel to GC for a company.

The importance of networking in growing your career and opening up to opportunities: 26:00

  • Opportunities arising through knowing people versus actively applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • Nurturing relationships with your coworkers and cross-functional leaders.
  • The origin story of TechGC, and Brian’s part in all of it.

Training people up to fill gaps in your team and overcome budget constraints: 30:41

  • Allocating resources to fill in gaps in your team even if you don’t have the budget to hire for senior roles.
  • Hiring and training team members, such as paralegals, from the ground up and helping them grow.
  • Employees taking on responsibility beyond their initial roles.
  • How teaching others can improve your own abilities and knowledge.

The evolution of the structure of in-house legal teams: 33:36

  • Building a foundation at a law firm after law school vs going straight in-house.
  • Non-lawyers having useful skill sets for legal departments to enable work that perhaps lawyers may not be best positioned to do.
  • Building legal teams with non-traditional candidates to enhance value and efficiency.
  • Finding people who want to do the work, even if they may not have the on-paper qualifications for it.

Concluding questions around failures and learnings: 37:09

  • Learnings from dealing with and trying to build connections with board members, as opposed to falling into a “corporate secretary” mentality.
  • What Brian wants from legal tech tools.
View more
Tyler Finn
Head of Community & Growth, SpotDraft
Brian Chase
General Counsel, ServiceChannel

More episodes coming soon

Subscribe to hear from the biggest voices in legal.

Tell me when new episodes are out