How 4 In-House Legal Heroes Grew Their Careers with Ironclad
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Our customers prove day in and day out that the right people with the right technology can transform an organization.
You may already know that our platform helps teams fast-track their contracts, collaborate with business partners, and unlock insights from every agreement. But did you know that Ironclad also helps in-house legal professionals build their careers?
We’re continually impressed by how the Ironclad community uses our technology to make an impact on their teams, their companies, and their own professional development — and their stories are too inspiring to keep to ourselves.
4 legal heroes that use their CLM expertise in their in-house roles
We spoke with four Ironclad customers who used their know-how to grow their teams, land new roles, and stand out at their companies.
Ryan Marks, Head of Legal at Airtable
Ryan Marks started his legal career in Big Law, working as a litigation associate at Akin Gump in New York and an employment associate at Jackson Lewis in San Diego. During his time at law firms, he grew frustrated with litigation as a way to solve business challenges.
That’s when he decided to jump into an in-house role at AMN Healthcare, where he learned what in-house practice is all about and transitioned from a specialist to a generalist. Later, he got an opportunity to join Airtable as their first legal hire and build their legal identity from the ground up.
Ryan was initially drawn to Airtable because of the product, which “redefines the relationship between people and technology.” At the time, the legal department was a clean slate he could come in and mold.
“This was the chance to come in and think about what Airtable legal could be, not build something based on what was there already, what I had seen elsewhere, or some notion of what a legal department should be. The opportunity to develop a set of priorities and strategic goals and then execute on them over time was really thrilling to me.”
Ryan’s previous company hired their first dedicated legal ops manager a decade after the legal department’s formation, and Ryan witnessed the impact of that decision toward the end of his tenure. After seeing how much a focus on building processes could help a legal team, he knew Airtable needed to prioritize creating a legal operations function and implementing the right tools right away.
Ryan hired Airtable’s first legal ops professional – a non-lawyer with a strong technology and systems background – only 10 months into his tenure.
“There’s very little that we do that we don’t challenge ourselves to do better or faster or more effectively through technology. We’re growing really quickly, and the reality is that we aren’t going to be able to grow as a legal team in a way that keeps up with the growth of the business. So it’s a constant battle to get more and more out of our time: that means automation, technology, systems that increase efficiency and help people get the information they need in simpler ways.”
Two essential tools in their tech stack? Ironclad CLM and their own product. Ryan’s team uses Ironclad and Airtable to share essential contract data with other teams, helping them act as business partners instead of cost centers.
We’ve not only been able to leverage technology for our own purposes, but we’ve developed insights that the rest of the business can use for their own priorities. We have a ton of valuable information about the business in our contracts – about our risk profile, about the relationships we have with third-parties and customers – and by leveraging technology well, the business can get access to that information.
For example, Ryan’s team can quickly find and share publicity rights with the marketing department or tell the product team which customers are subject to changes in state law. Quantifying the legal team’s impact and turning the department into an essential information source helped Ryan justify rapidly growing his team in just two years.
“We have seven lawyers, a legal operations professional, two contract managers, a co-head of legal, and we’re continuing to grow,” he noted.
If you want to learn more about how Ryan runs a high-growth legal team, listen to his discussion with Mary O’Carroll on her Pearls On, Gloves Off podcast.
Sandra Jadur, Associate Director of Contracts at Innovapptive
Ironclad CLM helps small teams manage growing demand; nobody knows that better than Sandra Jadur.
Sandra has more than 20 years of experience in the legal industry, including contract analyst and management roles. When she joined Innovapptive as a Contract Manager, her first order of business was creating playbooks and updating templates for the growing company. She soon realized there was simply too much manual work for one person.
Sandra knew she needed a searchable database and a way to streamline her workflow. So, she presented Ironclad as a necessary addition to her manager.
She made the business case for Ironclad by presenting how much money their manual processes cost them based on the hours spent on contracts times the salaries of team members. The potential savings from an Ironclad implementation made it an easy decision for Innovapptive.
After getting the green light, Sandra got to work implementing Ironclad and getting everyone across the company on board. “I was so enthusiastic that I think that’s why I got good adoption, and my salespeople love it. I got into sandbox mode and made all these fake contracts so they could see how to use it,” Sandra shared.
Sandra’s Ironclad implementation led to a high adoption rate among the sales team and a reduction of contract times from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days.
The entire company took notice of Sandra’s hard work, and she received an award in recognition of her impact. She shared,
I got recognized as one of the top employees at the 4th quarter all-hands meeting. My boss made a video for the recognition that was mostly focused on and talked about how I made the CLM vendor selection and implemented it myself.
In addition to Sandra’s award and recognition, her commitment to efficiency and leveraging Ironclad to its fullest extent to support Innovapptive’s ambitious growth goals helped her advance to her current role as Associate Director of Contracts.
Are you planning a CLM implementation at your organization? Here are our tips for choosing and successfully adopting the right CLM.
Nadia Hermez, Legal Operations Manager at Next Insurance
Sometimes your skills and experiences align perfectly with your next opportunity. When Nadia Hermez was in a previous role at Carbon, she “lived and breathed” Ironclad for two years.
So an opportunity at Next Insurance that required someone well-versed with Ironclad caught her attention, she decided to join the dynamic company. Her experience with the CLM, organization, innovation, and willingness to implement systems helped her land the role.
“This is what got me my job at Next. They needed somebody to manage Ironclad exclusively at the outset,” she shared. Though now Ironclad is just one of the many hats she wears, it’s still her favorite tool to use.
One of her first projects in her new role was to improve the team’s third-party contract workflow. Nadia also implemented a system to review renewal documents.
They did not have any mechanism to review renewal agreements. If there was an SOW, a quote, or an amendment, they did not have a mechanism to process that. So I built an entire section within that workflow that accommodates renewals. We also built new workflows to accommodate our partnership and channel agreements.
After spending 10+ years at big law firms, Nadia reached a point where she felt at the end of her growth potential and career development. She shared,
Now that she’s in-house and in charge of legal operations, there’s a growing list of opportunities ahead. Incorporating Clickwrap to efficiently process agency and retail agreements, creating a new signatory matrix, an entity management dashboard, and a compliance management tool are all on the horizon for Nadia in the months to come.
Ummu Fallon, Legal Operations Manager at Camunda
Sometimes the development of a legal ops career is gradual. Ummu Fallon previously worked at StaffBase, and shared that,
“I wore multiple hats at Staffbase. I had three or four different roles at Staffbase; I became a legal ops manager towards the end, and then I decided I wanted to have a change,” Ummu shared.
Similar to Nadia Hermez, Ummu’s previous Ironclad CLM experience helped her stand out when she applied for a legal operations position at Camunda.
“Part of why I got the job is because they needed someone that didn’t just know Ironclad—they needed someone who really understood Ironclad,” she shared. Now, Ummu benchmarks her success as a legal operations manager by the success of her legal team.
Seeing the return on investment for the legal counsel is rewarding because that means my job is going the right way. Instead of doing things manually, they have a quicker turnaround time for reviews using the system we implemented.
Camunda’s GC meets with the CFO monthly to report on metrics like reviews requested, contracts per product per month, and Turn Tracking. Ummu and the legal team have found these KPIs to be powerful advocates for their work. Ummu noted,
Community and technology come together to strengthen in-house legal teams
These four in-house legal heroes are only a handful of a thriving network of professionals who use their CLM expertise to reshape their organizations and expand their career opportunities. If you want to learn from more fellow in-house legal professionals, be sure to join the Ironclad Community.
If you’re a current Ironclad customer, you can also register for Ironclad Academy and earn skills badges to stand out during your job hunt, just like Nadia and Ummu did.