In-House Legal Departments


Working notes from my new role at Microsoft


I might have the most fun job in the legal profession. I help Microsoft’s legal department build the future of our practice of law leading a program we call “Modern Legal.” Modern Legal is a spin-off of my prior operations role focused on innovation. This post offers a summary of Modern Legal and our observations about why legal industry innovation may be accelerating.

Our General Counsel, Dev Stahlkopf, chartered our small team with a delightfully elegant and audacious mandate: “Drive industry-leading innovation to digitally transform and modernize the department’s practices and ways of working.” Our department handles complex legal needs, for an accelerating and dynamic business, with global scope, at massive scale. Our Modern Legal team brings together a Storyteller (Senior Attorney), a Cultural Systems Engineer (Senior Program Manager), and me. We are built to explore and use what we learn to catalyze the evolution of our larger organization.
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Reflections on the connection between specialization and innovation


Your mother needs heart valve replacement surgery, and it’s time to choose between doctors. You will have to explain yourself to two siblings and a few other relatives, but as a practical matter the choice is in your hands. You interview two potential surgeons. Here’s what they have to say:
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General counsel exert an outsized influence on the legal market.  Through the open letter below, some of them are taking the long view by trying to influence the health and vitality of the legal talent supply chain. They are looking for other general counsel to join them.

Want to make a difference?  Encourage your general

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The legal profession’s commitment to diversity has a credibility problem.


Since the early 2000s, law departments and law firms have advanced ambitious public initiatives to diversify the legal profession. In law firm power centers, however, the disconnect between public proclamations and empirical reality is staggering.
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Rather than wait for it, Microsoft’s legal team has decided to create what it needs, starting now.


Innovation is taking place in many parts of the legal ecosystem these days. Yet, as relates to legal operations inside corporate legal departments, a refreshing community of practice is starting to unfold. The camaraderie and fellowship among practitioners,

Photo by Louis Reed via Unsplash / Microsoft is bringing the scientific method to legal innovation.


Microsoft is pushing legal buy and provider engagement to the next level and asking their primary firms to come along. Here’s why it matters: they’re thinking bigger, committed for the long haul, and bringing a STEM mindset to legal innovation.



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Microsoft’s legal department has the talent, resources and vision.  With enough time, a “Microsoft system” could evolve that will be as influential as the original Cravath system.


I was very fortunate to be invited to the most recent Microsoft Trusted Advisor Forum, which took place on September 20 at Microsoft’s Redmond campus. The Forum featured


Big corporations are growing faster than the rest of the economy. It is not hard to figure out where this is going. Lawyer acceptance is different story.


Many lawyers and law firms claim to serve the middle market, often describing how they deal directly with owners and executives rather than in-house counsel. Although these clients

Earlier this year, Lucy Bassli left her position as Assistant General Counsel of Legal Operations and Contracting at Microsoft to become Chief Legal Strategist for LawGeex, a promising legaltech start-up, and to open her own hybrid law firm-consultancy.

Why would one of the legal industry’s most respected legal ops professionals leave the safety and