Work within the law department goes way beyond strictly legal matters. According to Aaron Pierce of CounselLink, information related to that work can be invaluable in optimizing your team’s performance. In this interview with CCBJ, Pierce, an industry veteran, provides insights on how to broaden data capture and analysis to improve performance.

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‘Tis the season when top in-house legal officers get a taste of what outside counsel go through every year when the Am Law 100 is published. There it is for all the world to see: “What’s in your wallet?” That’s because summer is the season when ALM, publisher of The American Lawyer, and the Association of Corporate Counsel drop their annual compensation reports on inside and outside counsel.
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At an ACC-hosted forum in Paris, Jean-Claude Beaujour, a partner with Paris-based law firm Smith d’Oria, and Veta T. Richardson, ACC president and CEO, discuss how law departments can provide and showcase the value they bring to the business.
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The Gates Foundation’s Keith Matthews explains what satisfies his soul and makes him happy to come to work every day.

CCBJ: Your career followed an interesting and varied path to the Gates Foundation. Can you tell us about that?

Keith Matthews: Professionally, my first job out of college was as a credit analyst and later a middle-market loan officer at what is now JPMorgan Chase. With that background – and with a finance degree from college – I knew early on in my career that I wanted to focus on transactional work.
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Gage Johnson is senior VP, general counsel and secretary of Paramount Group Inc., a New York City-based public REIT. His remarks have been edited for length and style.

CCBJ: How did you become a lawyer?

Gage Johnson: When I was a kid, there was a TV show called “Perry Mason,” a lawyer who helped people out of jams. Mason also always won and was fun to watch. My dad, a lawyer in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looked like Perry Mason. He became a judge, so it was natural for me to become a lawyer.
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For the first time in some years, law departments are anticipating bigger budgets, and they plan to put that money to work in-house. That’s bad news for outside counsel, who continue to sit squarely in the crosshairs of spend-conscious general counsel and their ops squads, who, despite their growing budgets, plan to cut outside counsel’s share from 40% to 36%.                              
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Recently, the topic of culture has rocketed up the corporate agenda. Look no further than our interview with Nick Donofrio and Helene Gayle, who recently led a Blue Ribbon Commission on culture for the National Association of Corporate Directors. Why take a hard look now at a “soft” topic such as culture? Check the headlines, says Donofrio, a member of the NACD board.
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You have to hand it to Firoz Dattu. The former Paul Weiss lawyer and founder of AdvanceLaw sure knows how to whip up a crowd. Earlier this year, with no small amount of media fanfare, Dattu unleashed something he calls the GC Thought Leaders Experiment. Haven’t heard of Firoz, or AdvanceLaw, or the Thought Leaders Experiment? No worries. Dattu trots out a nifty marital metaphor to describe the project.

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Christine Coats has made bringing new speed and efficiency to legal operations the focus of her career. After an early stint with IBM, she became Director of Legal Operations at Symantec in 2005, at a time when the function barely existed. At Symantec, she acted as the general counsel’s chief of staff and ran business operations for the COO’s office. In 2015 she was hired as Vice President of Legal Operations at an even larger software company – Oracle Corporation – where she acts as the general counsel’s right hand. She also serves as the CFO of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). The interview has been edited for length and style.

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