Interview with Mateo Sanchez, Head of Global Legal Operations at Uber

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By Mirra Levitt
| In-House Voices

Legal operations success.001

 

What does it mean to be Head of Global Operations at Uber? 

I manage the legal operations team, which basically means overseeing the day-to-day of pretty much anything in the legal department that doesn’t require an attorney. Beyond that, key elements of my job include technology implementation, budget management, leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as headcount and recruiting.

What makes a great legal operations professional?

Legal operations professionals are often hired to solve one problem in a legal department, but the role quickly evolves into working with legal department leadership (whether a General Counsel or Chief Legal Officer) to address the full range of issues facing the company’s legal department’s problems that don’t involve practicing law. 

Given this reality, a great legal operations manager should be a jack-of-all-trades and the have the ability to learn new things very quickly. The specifics of what needs to be learned will, of course, vary depending on the company. However, the generalist mindset and ability to pick up new concepts, concerns and dynamics quickly are critical.

Often people talk about how legal operations selects technology tools, but roll-out implementation is just as important. What strategies for technology implementation have you succeeded with in the past?

The first thing I recommend regarding technology rollouts is figuring out how much time legal operations can commit to achieving a successful implementation -- because if you can’t commit sufficient time to implement the piece of technology, often the technology is underutilized by the legal department and ultimately forgotten. If the legal operations team doesn’t have the bandwidth to answer questions from the legal team or to help the legal team troubleshoot the technology, then it probably isn’t the right time to roll out the tool. 

 Once you have committed the time for implementation, I always recommend a game-plan that includes working closely with the vendor. Without careful attention to this partnership, a once attentive vendor can become significantly less responsive once the contract is signed, leaving the legal operations team without sufficient technical support. The most important element of a good vendor partnership is rapid response to information requests, questions and user support issues.

What three tools or types of tools should legal departments of all sizes consider using?

The first key tool is e-billing because the biggest focus for a GC is spend management. Using e-billing tools requires both mastery of the technology and ongoing attention to effective use. Depending on company size, I’d also recommend thinking about what tools the legal department is using (or should be using) for contract management, especially with respect to how the legal department is helping the business-side manage its contracts. Finally, it’s important to focus on innovation. This is not one tool in particular, but entails time spent researching and trying different ways to innovate the legal team, whether it’s using alternative service providers, bringing in technology like AI into your systems or simply finding other ways to save money. 

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