Ask the Expert: How Legal Can Champion Product Innovation
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We're the tip of the spear for ensuring operational compliance as business teams build products. Day to day, I get embedded into everything we do as an organization and find creative and responsible ways to remediate risk.
Product counsel are responsible for understanding their company’s products, priorities, plans, and process, and applying their expertise in commercial contract, regulatory, privacy, IP, and consumer law practice areas. As a liaison to the product and engineering teams, they can address blind spots and ultimately help protect the integrity of their brand.
So how do you become a product counsel and help your company build a product that consumers trust? Udemy Associate General Counsel Victoria Nemiah, Wish Senior Counsel (Privacy and Product) Michael Cremata, and Ironclad Counsel Nicole Dobias recently shared what makes a product counsel successful in their role.
Here are some best practices from our experts:
- “Be in listen mode.” Instead of saying “no,” listen and find a way forward to resolve issues early on in the product development cycle.
- Don’t be afraid to jump in and ask questions. You don’t need to know how to code, but your aggressive curiosity can help you be an advocate for consumers or end users.
- Equip and empower the business to do compliance. It’s not practical to have Legal review everything so it’s critical to provide guidance and education on areas to be generally aware of.
- Build trust with internal business stakeholders. Schedule coffee chats and learn what’s important to the different teams you work with.
- Effective, succinct communication, subject matter competence (vs. mastery), and being able to issue spot are key traits of a successful product counsel. For example, can you explain technical legal concepts like indemnification to a non-legal person?
- Get involved in building your company’s data privacy map. This is a fantastic way to get embedded with the product and engineering team.
- Raise your hand and volunteer to help out. Commercial counsel can become product counsel. Jump in and get involved in projects where you can cultivate your issue-spotting skills.
Watch Now: Ask the Expert: How Legal Can Champion Product Innovation
If you get asked twice about something, build a wiki. Make your policies or guideline documents accessible, skimmable, and fun with humor (memes, emojis, GIFs).