Breaking into Legal Ops: Why BD Skills Matter

The number one sales skill I’ve brought with me into my Legal Engineering Role…

The world of legal technology is appealing to a wide range of students and young people just starting their professional careers. I’ve spoken with students with almost every imaginable academic background and there’s a lot of interest in legal tech opportunities. However, a tricky obstacle to overcome is the lack of entry-level and graduate roles especially in SME and mid-market organisations.

This is something that I faced a few years ago when I graduated law school.

Looking around at what was available to me as a recent graduate with little-to-no professional experience it looked like I’d have to either apply for graduate schemes in much larger organisations than I ideally wanted to join at that stage in my career or find work as a paralegal through one of the various agency-type schemes and organisations which exist for such things.

Neither of these options appealed to me much, this was very much down to what I was looking for at the time rather than the merits of those paths. I’ve subsequently met dozens of amazing legal technologists and legal operations professionals who started on a graduate scheme or as a freelance or agency contractor of some description.

The route I took was a little different, however, looking back it afforded me the opportunity to develop a few key skills that serve me very well working in the legal technology and operations space. My first full time job out of law school was on the business development team of the company I’m still working for, Juro.

Juro is a legal technology company that specialises in contract automation. I’m now a Senior Legal Engineer at Juro. I work with the lawyers, legal operations, and occasionally revenue operations teams of our customers to help them get up and running with the Juro platform quickly and in a way that helps them meet the associated business objectives. 

What I discovered, a little to my own surprise, is that legal engineering and other operationally focused roles share common skills and competencies with business development.

The focus of this article will be the skill set associated with what they refer to in the business development and sales world as effective “discovery.” Generally speaking discovery is where the seller gathers information about the buyer’s pain, needs, decision-making process, stakeholders, etc.

When software and processes are involved discovery is also how the seller finds out how and with what tools things are currently done.

“From a sales perspective, this is important as it helps the team figure out whether they’re actually going to be able to help the prospective buyer solve their problem (qualification).”

It also helps them tailor any demonstrations and conversations to the specific situation, problem, and stakeholders of the prospective buyer.

Discovery is also a key skill for software implementation and change management, two core responsibilities of those in legal engineering and operations roles. Especially for legal engineers, being able to effectively learn what can be a completely novel business model with a range of stakeholders and very specific problems and existing processes. Over the past year alone I’ve worked with a huge range of organisations including; fast growing fintechs, West End musical theatre production companies, local government bodies, and global healthcare providers.

A lot has been and could, in addition, be written about what good discovery looks like. This is not a guide on good discovery. However, what I’d like to put to the legal operations community and those looking to get into this type of work is this: running discovery calls, even in a business development team context, for six months to a year is fantastic training for the many micro and macro skills that go into good change management and implementation discovery.

Whether you’re hiring for a legal engineering or legal operations role or you are looking to move into such a position yourself don’t discount business development and sales experience. Discovery is a crucial skill in any position that involves complex processes and change management across diverse stakeholders.

Henry Warner
Senior Legal Engineer

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *