In this episode of Lessons I Learned in Law, Scott Brown speaks to Xavier Langlois, Chief Legal and Impact Officer at Beamery. Beamery is a HR SaaS tech company that provides a Talent Lifecycle Management platform which allows enterprises to create talent centric, human centric experiences for all talent
Xavier, or X, trained at Field Fisher and since 2013 has worked in-house for tech firms and in venture capital. Xavier has held numerous senior roles across various industries, including legal tech, private equity and tech more broadly. He has led numerous funding rounds, M&A, and advises management/founders on a wide range of legal and business issues and company strategy and growth.
X shares the three lessons he has learned in law including:
· There’s no one way to have a legal career. X reveals how his secondments into industry firms opened his eyes to the possibilities of an in-house career; something that he wasn’t aware of when entering into the legal profession.
· When you come to work, bring your whole self to work. Be unapologetically you!
· Don’t just be the lawyer. Get into a position where you fully understand how the business works and how you can help with strategy and growth. Nurture internal and external relationships and apply your unique perspective to help teams across the business, regardless of what they might be working on. Bring solutions, not problems.
X talks about his experiences of sharing his whole self with his colleagues, specifically his sexuality as a gay man. Whilst he says he doesn’t like the term ‘coming out’, he instead tried normalise his experiences through honesty with his team. He also reflects on lockdown and how that often created deeper more meaningful conversations and relationships with colleagues, despite being remote.
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This episode of Lessons I Learned in Law is brought to you by Beamery.
Beamery is an AI-powered talent platform, designed to hire candidates faster, develop the skills of your workforce, and increase employee retention.
Find out more at Beamery.com
Scott Brown (0:00)
Hi and welcome to Lessons I Learned in Law with me Scott Brown, Founder and Managing Director of Heriot Brown In-House Legal Recruitment. I am delighted to be for the first time dipping my toe in recording a podcast in the flesh hosted by Beamery today. It's great to be here with our guest today, to be kicking off series five of Lessons I Learned in Law with a bang. Lessons I Learned in Law, it was a bit of a lockdown side hustle for me. I'm a recovering lawyer myself, now legal recruiter. And our mission is to find lawyers fulfilling careers in-house. So hopefully this podcast, where I meet with leaders within the legal profession, from across all sectors, gives you a good flavour for what it takes to get to the top and the lessons that people have learned in their careers to date. I'm delighted to be joined today by X, who is Chief Legal and Impact Officer at Beamery.
Xavier Langlois (1:01)
Hi, Scott. Thanks for coming!
Scott Brown (1:03)
Hi! Thank you, thank you for hosting us. I'm welcoming you today, but I feel like I should be saying thanks for having us.
Xavier Langlois (1:09)
Well, thank you for being the first record in the space. So yeah, we're baptising it today. Yeah, I couldn't think of a better way.
Scott Brown (1:14)
It is brilliant, super impressive. Such a good setup. It's given us loads of ideas. So X is, as I said, Chief Legal and Impact Officer of Beamery, which we'll hear hopefully a lot more about what that position entails and how you got there, but Beamery are a talent lifecycle management platform, SAS business tech company, and it allows enterprises to create talent centric, human centric experiences for all talent. By background, X trained at Fieldfisher and had a couple of secondments in there, and since 2013, has been in-house, both in industry and tech companies, and in venture capital, as well. So seen it from both sides. Welcome X, I'm really keen to have this conversation, see where it takes us. We'll jump in, what's your first lesson?
Xavier Langlois (2:02)
The one that I always think about is that there's no one way to have a legal career. And I think definitely when I started, there was only one path, you would either do an LP, or you would do a conversion course you would do your LPC, you would do your trading contract in a law firm, because at the time it was frowned upon to do a training contract in house. And then you know, you'd qualify and you'd spend your rest of your life in a law firm. So that's where I came from. But I'm so glad that things have evolved in the past. I'm not going to say how many years because otherwise I'd be telling my age. But for how so long and even now with you know, the whole security one is QE two is just, there's so much more opportunities, and I think people should not restrict their thinking of, oh, if I want to be an in house lawyer, I need to follow a very specific path. And I think that's in my mind. That's not correct. And if I had to do it again, actually don't think I would have done the route I took because I think now these days again, when you think of legal ops, when you think of some rules internally are very specialised, right. I mean, some in house teams are structured like a law firm. Yeah. So you know, there's in my mind to start your journey in house completely by doing the paralegal route and then training in house we miscue route, even going dabbling into legal ops and then going back to being a lawyer, like there's just there's no one path, I always find it even to this day quite frustrating when people advertise his career in law, that only means you have to do like these three steps to get there. Because that in my mind, that's just completely wrong.
Scott Brown (3:31)
Conveyor belt, yeah. How did you decide on the career track into the legal profession?
Xavier Langlois (3:35)
Well, I never wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a pilot, right? But then,
Scott Brown (3:41)
You've got the headphones on today!
Xavier Langlois (3:42)
Well, yeah, I feel like one today! But then, of course, you know, parents being pushy parents being like, well, if you're gonna go to university do something that is a profession. So I was like, great. When I started, I needed a visa to be in this country. And I don't know if I can say this, but I fucked around at uni. And I didn't get the best of grades. Yeah. So I, I didn't start I didn't have the best head start. So when I was applying, I really had to hustle to get even my first paralegal job. So again, for me, you know, whenever someone thinks of one things I've learned, again, is just networking and the power of networking, because sometimes your grades are not enough or sometimes your CV is not enough. And it's what, you know, it's you as a person around it. That makes a difference. I didn't have all the best odds on my side. But yeah, the first paralegal job, at Fieldfisher actually, is really what changed it for me, because then I was able to sort of prove myself and show to them that I was a bit more than what my grades were on paper. And then I got the training contract. And then the secondments, again is what really opened my eyes to the world of legal right because again, I was really sort of, you know, training law firms to law firm and that's it. I might change law firm once in my life, but turns out I've changed you know, since I've qualified I've had four jobs all in-house, but the secondment is really what opened my eyes. So I actually spent more time on secondment than I was at Fieldfisher, both as a paralegal and as a trainee, that was at Amazon. And so I went to MTV was the first one. And then I went to Getty Images twice, actually, I was actually there during the London Olympics, and I had a press pass, which was amazing. That's a different story for another day. And then I went to Amazon. And then when I qualified, I think out of the three years at Fieldfisher, I had spent 20 months on secondment, and then I resigned the day after I qualified or like a week later, yeah. Because I knew my heart was working in house and helping businesses achieve their goals. I know a lot of people say this. But yeah, when you work in private practice, you, you don't tend to see things end to end. And it's a different job. I think there's an appreciation now that they are two distinctive jobs.
Scott Brown (5:48)
Totally different, I think they're different careers, skill sets. They’re chalk and cheese. And that's the one transition from moving from practice into in house, you have to get your head around this.
Xavier Langlois (6:00)
100%. But again, my first choice of job when I moved in-house, I didn't think that I would spend my whole career then in tech, or in growth venture companies. And what I tell you know, I now have a paralegal in a trainee who's just qualified, actually, that I help sort of mentor and I always tell them, Don't be so narrow minded on what industry you should go into, or what sector you should go into, like, just every opportunity is a good opportunity, and every opportunity will, in 10 years’ time you'll reflect I'd be like, Yeah, that's what got me to where I am today. Yeah. Because I know some people that I need to work in FinTech because it's the next big thing. I mean, it probably is and great. But that doesn't mean that other industries can't give you that experience or that outlook on what you do that I would try to stay away from people being narrow minded, because you're the first job that you get once you're qualified, does not 100% fine your career.
Scott Brown (6:50)
Yeah. When you were a wannabe lawyer. What resources were you looking at that said, this was the only route to private practice as the route you must go down?
Xavier Langlois (7:03)
I mean, at the time, it was a lot of careers fairs back in the days when I used to do stuff in person. So there was a lot of those organised by the law schools. So obviously, you know, the next step after the identity, LLP was the LPC. So, you know, you'd speak to all the law schools, and it was very clear that that was the path that you had, I think the resources back then were very more narrow than they are today. So yeah, that's what we were exposed to back then. And again, a lot of the people you could speak to when you went to those networking events or things, everyone was in private practice, like the in house world had sort of exploded like it has in the past sort of five ish years. Right. So yes, people knew the audit house lawyer, but there wasn't that, as you just said, it's a distinctive job. Right. So there was a different view of in house than I think there is today. So yeah, the resources that we had were not as broad as I think people have today.
Scott Brown (7:57)
I remember going to a career fair. Edinburgh University and the in-house representation was a government legal department. And I didn't really get an understanding as to what that looked like. It was so far down my wish list at that point in time. I didn't understand what it was.
Xavier Langlois (8:13)
Did you go to yours, was that, there was a huge push at the time as well by the military. They used to attend all careers fairs. Yeah, word of advice, never get wasted with people that are attending careers fairs and think you're gonna get a job out of it. It might have the opposite effect. Yeah, there was a huge push at the time. I remember for sort of all government legal services, which I guess was the exposure to in-house right.
Scott Brown (8:38)
Yeah. So was that one of your you were talking about the things you did at university? What is the craziest thing?
Xavier Langlois (8:45)
I don't think it's podcast worthy. But yeah, I think back in, I say back in the days, like, you know, it was 20 years ago, but it wasn't uncommon for us to just go straight from going out to go to lectures. Yeah, then, you know, missing deadlines for submitting things and partying the night before of exams. I feel like this generation are a lot more screwed on.
Scott Brown (9:06)
That's what chat GPT is for now, isn’t it?!
Xavier Langlois (9:09)
Yeah, that too! I mean, if I had that then, I don't think I'd ever turn up to any uni!
Scott Brown (9:14)
Writing an essay, they don't know they're born! And then moving in-house, when you made that decision, and you felt this is the route I want to take, or that's the role I want to have. What are your next steps? Are you creating five year plans in your head?
Xavier Langlois (9:28)
So I'm going to be controversial here. I've never had any plans, right. I've literally taken things that they've come along. And I guess I think that has helped me because it's given me the flexibility of mind to be open to any opportunity. So every job that I've had has happened organically. So when I went into my first in house role a company called Callaway to nit reseller. So I stayed there for a couple of years. We then sold the business to a US listed company. So then I had that experience and then I was like, You know what I'm done with working for us listed. I want to go back to a growth company. Me. And then through networking, I can't remember how it really happened. I think they found me. But I then got introduced to high Q illegal tech company. And again, I didn't know I wanted to move to legal tech, right. So then spent a couple of years there, we then sold them to Thomson Reuters. And then one of the investors of high Q was like, hey, we'd love working with you. Why don't you join our fund, we don't have an in house counsel, you can be the first one. And they were about to raise a new fund. And whilst I was there, we did like three or five investments. Again, I didn't know it was going to work in private equity. I didn't know how to read a partnership agreement. Before I started, so, and then the pandemic happened. And then I realised that there was more to life than making rich people richer. And I decided to join, you know, a sort of impact driven company. And that's how been we came about HR tech. So I've just taken opportunities that they've come along, because all of the skills should be transferable. I think they are.
Scott Brown (10:51)
Yeah. And for areas you don't know, you're looking for specialist areas, you're
Xavier Langlois (10:55)
100% good at the people that know. Yeah, exactly. That's true for any sector, right. I know that sometimes, when you think of some of the newer sectors like renewable energy, people want people that have been in private practice and six years of, of energy experience, but it's like, yeah, but this person has never done fundraising in their life. Well, this person has never fired someone in 20 jurisdictions or, you know, so it's the skills are much broader than very specific experiences. Yeah. And that's, I think, what I bring, I always say, I'm a jack of all trades, but master of none. And I think that's helped me in my career, right. Some people are more specialised in focus, and that's fine. Yeah, maybe they do a much better job than I do. I don't know. But that's definitely helped me. And I'm quite happy with that.
Scott Brown (11:36)
Yes, transfer this transferable skill set. And when you're at that strategic level, advising the part of the management team, you're exactly a risk advisor, and on your full risk as well.
Xavier Langlois (11:48)
And for me, it was really that sort of working with founders and leadership teams that I really enjoy working in house, I think that what really does it for me, yes, we will have to do the day to day legal stuff. But it's that strategic discussions, it's, you know, how do we grow the business? And, and this part of what are the things I've learned, which is, if you don't want to be the lawyer in the room, then you're pretty damn sure you have to speak the business language. Yeah, right, you should be able to speak to the CFO and speak his language, we will speak to your chief people officer and speak their language with your chief revenue officer with your CEO. And, and that's, I think, what makes a difference between potentially people that only hone in their technical skills and people that are quite open to becoming the business person, because what that then resolves for a lot of people is the discussion of who should the GC report to. And I get wildly offended when I see reporting lines to the CFO or CEO, I would never touch these jobs in a lifetime. Because to me, it signals that businesses don't appreciate what GCS do. Because, again, through all my roles, I know that more often than not the person that the CEO calls where there's a problem is generally the GC first before anybody else, right. And that trust that you build is, I think, very unique to the skill set that we as lawyers have. And so it's a very privileged role. And I think, yeah, becoming that person is what I get a kick out of, and what I've basically done my whole career.
Scott Brown (13:19)
I'll move on to lesson two.
Xavier Langlois 13:20
So it's something that it's hard to do. But I think if you do it and you do it, right, it can really set you apart I think from others, which is when you come to work, bring your whole self to work. And I always say this word wrong, but be unapologetically you and got it right. Because especially in this day and age, I think it's really important that you know when people show up for work, when you show up to a meeting when you just in your day to day interactions, a that united dick, but also that you you are yourself right? And it's not I don't think it's helps anyone in this day and age to try and be someone that not because ultimately catches up on you. And you cannot be your best version of yourself if you're constantly trying to be someone else or be someone that you're not. Obviously from my personal perspective, you know, that meant that when I was even a paralegal, I sort of hate the term but sort of came out. And that was, you know, in those days it was as a paralegal it was bit gutsy, right? Because I know people to this day that are partners in law firms or senior associates that don't come out or that live completely separate lives. And I made that decision earlier on actually I use it to my advantage. So when I did that I opened at the time sort of the firm's first sort of LGBTQ society and I was putting together sort of fundraising events for a charity called diversity role models. And again, that just elevates your profile and you have discussions with the managing partner of the firm that you wouldn't do before when because then they get excited to bring their clients in All that kind of stuff. So I think there's a way to hold people's differences in a way that they can use it to their advantage. And I say that about sexual orientation, you could say the same for gender, you can say the same for people that have, you know, newer diversity, people from different socio economic backgrounds. I think in my mind, there's always a way to change the narrative and to use that narrative to your advantage. And always making sure that you stay true to yourself. And I always tell people, what you see is what you get. So how I'm talking to you now I talk exactly the same to our founder, I will tell you exactly the same in an interview. Because my point is, if people don't like you for who you are, then why bother? Right? And you probably don't want to hear this, but I never prepare for interviews. Because, again, if you're not the best version of yourself, when you turn up at that time, of course, I do some due diligence, right. But I'm not like rehearsing answers to everything. Yeah. Because if what I'm saying in the moment based on the circumstances, right, like my interview with Bill Murray, it was it was drink COVID. And it was a walking into you. I mean, you can't prepare for that, right? So you just got to be who you are on that day, based on the circumstances around you. And we've had a few funny stories. And again, you build that relationship with someone. It's just being yourself. And what I try to do now when I haven't interviewed I haven't interviewed for a long time. But when I was looking for the role for Beamery, is just teasing out as well from people that you're speaking to, what is their views on DNI and I use that term generally. But just you know, throwing in the fact in my case that I had a fiancé, that was a man that I struggle with mental health or depression, and just seeing how that bounces back. Because again, you then get a really good feel for the environment that you're walking into. And also, you're just building that extra connection with someone, right? People want to connect with people, people don't want to connect with robots. Yeah, at this level, you have to assume that technically, everyone is good at their jobs. So it's about that, what else do you bring to the table? And in my, from my perspective, that's bringing your whole self and yeah, being you.
Scott Brown (17:00)
Yeah. And if you don't, it's gonna come out in the wash at some point. And it's, you're pretending to be someone and living up to that every single day.
Xavier Langlois (17:10)
And how I've seen it come out is in-house roles, like private practice can be quite, there's a lot going on, it can be stressful, right? But when times are tough, usually that's when people's true personalities come out. And if you then do a 360, on who you are a normal day versus who are in a bad day. Yeah, it can really set people off right? And you create, you can create a chain of events that just purely based on who you were that day, in my career, I've had to deal with things I've never thought I would ever have to deal with as an in house lawyer. But how you react in those moments, I think is key. And again, if a year before that you were this like happy person that always and then on that day you like fall apart? People give you like one.
Scott Brown (17:52)
Yeah, absolutely. Back in Paralegal days and coming out. How did you approach that?
Xavier Langlois (17:59)
I think I just I just said it. Yeah. Oh, I don't think I said it. I think I just normalised it.
Scott Brown (18:04)
Yeah. Did you feel you had to…
Xavier Langlois (18:05)
No, I… This is why I don't like the word coming out. Because I didn't like sat down with a partner and was like, Hey, this is the deal. Just I think I just normalised it right. When somebody's like, what did you do last night? I was like, Yeah, I went on a day or you know, my boyfriend or whatever it was. And I think that's why a lot of these things is just normalising it and making it just, it is what it is. I mean, it's 2023. Right? If people are still bothered about that, then I think there's have bigger issues, then. That's my view about all streams of diversity.
Scott Brown (18:36)
I was thinking about this the other day, just about lockdown we all had a bigger window into people's lives outside of work. Do you feel things have changed and shifted since you're back in the office and approach to dealing with colleagues?
Xavier Langlois (18:49)
100% I think, I think lockdown, I don't want to say it was good. But I think it helped, especially with teams really deepen relationships in ways that maybe in person you couldn't have. But then it's also shows a lot of the cracks, especially for you know, more junior are going to speak of lawyers, right, more junior lawyers trying to learn. It's a lot harder when you're in a hybrid model. And we so we've been doing a hybrid model, and my team comes in at least two days a week, we can already see the difference. And we've been doing it now for a year of how much they've learned and developed in those two days versus in lockdown. I think again, locked down gave us a nine to people's life, which is amazing, but I think we should build on that right? I don't think it's like oh, that was locked down. Now we should all go back to work and forget, you know, everything we've learned from it because I think there was a lot of good things that came out of it again, it shed a huge light on people's mental health and how they deal with it and people's personal life and their work life balance that's so important, which now businesses are struggling with because you've given people so much freedom and liberty to basically do what they want when they were working from home. Yeah. And now it's like trying to rein that back. Yeah, I think businesses are struggling with that quite a lot.
Scott Brown (20:04)
What do you see as a solution?
Xavier Langlois (20:07)
I don't know. I, what I tell my team is, and I do believe this, but as long as you're doing your job, I really don't care. I truly do not care. Again, my team work from one of them is American, and she works from America quite often. I just don't care. I think again, as long as you bring your best self to work when you're at work, and as long as you're doing what you're supposed to do and go above and beyond in those moments that the business needs you. Great. I mean, don't book a bloody holiday quarter end? Then you're screwing over the whole team. But yeah, if you want to work, I worked from Scotland for a month last year in April. Best thing I ever did. Not because of Scotland. Joking! Best thing I ever did, right. So yeah, I mean, for me, it's like, let's use what we learned from lockdown and build on that and let people just be themselves and be their best selves, and whatever that means for them, right? Because again, there's no right way or wrong way to deliver work or to do work, or to show up to work. So let's make sure we give people opportunities to deliver their best work in the way that works for them.
Scott Brown (21:11)
Yeah, you base it on output rather than where they are.
Xavier Langlois (21:15)
And that is how to be honest, right? Because otherwise, don't be micromanaging everything that someone does to be like, oh, did you work hard enough on this? So I think it's finding there’s always a balance.
Scott Brown (21:24)
And there's trust and right. I think you lose trust rather than gain as if you're hiring someone, you approach it on the position that there's trust here if things aren't, and then you have an open, honest conversation, where things are going wrong if they do travelling, travelling to Scotland, what is your passions outside of work?
Xavier Langlois (21:42)
I always say that I live to travel. Right in terms you know, every penny that I owed goes into travelling. Yeah, it's how my partner and I bonded it's a bit hard in that with the dog. Yeah. So we got a dog a puppy during lockdown. He wasn't a lockdown puppy. We always were going to get a dog. It just accelerated getting a dog. Yeah, I don't know why I feel the need to sort of have to explain. But yeah, I mean, we love travelling we try and spend as much all of our holidays. I don't think I've ever taken a day off to sort of sit at home in in London. Yeah, that's my idea of like a wasted day.
Scott Brown (22:17)
Yeah. What was your favourite destination?
Xavier Langlois (22:19)
So one of my dreams, which we did last year was to go to Svalbard. Okay, which is like this archipelago. And north of Norway, okay, it's the most northern you can go on earth before the North Pole where there's any kind of settlement. That was mind blowing!
Scott Brown (22:34)
What's it like there?
Xavier Langlois (22:36)
I mean, it's barren land, which is just ice and polar bears and walruses! And it's just yeah, it's just amazing. Yeah. And this year, our big trip is South Korea. I really want to step into North Korea and go to the DMZ. So that's, that's a big bucket list…
Scott Brown (22:53)
Target on your back.
Xavier Langlois (22:54)
Yeah. I mean, people, our friends make fun of us, because we have a shared Notes. And we have I think holidays planned now until 2027. Because just so many places we want to go. And we're really trying to make sure we do things that we really want to do. But yeah, that's how I spend my time. And again, I'm really open about it. I was really open about it when I took the role to make it clear that you know, that's how I spend my holidays, and I'm not going to compromise on it. So yes, I sometimes have to work on holidays. I think that just comes with the job anyways. But I have no shame asking for putting down holidays to go for two weeks here and this and that. Yeah, because that's what's important to me, right. That's why I turn up to work every day. Otherwise I wouldn't.
Scott Brown (23:34)
Yeah, sure. How do you. How would you cope with the dog? They're tying, dogs, right? Have you got a troupe of friends ready to help?
Xavier Langlois (23:39)
Yeah, so we have a rolodex of people. But the best thing for us now is my partner's mom who comes to the house and just doesn't leave the house for the whole time. We're there which is amazing. So yeah, that really has worked for us. We can't take him abroad. So we're doing a lot more UK holidays. So Scotland was the first time we sort of went away. So we're going to Wales later in the year, we're climbing Snowden with him. So we're trying to do as much as we can. Yeah, the dog as well.
Scott Brown (24:06)
And that breed, remind me
Xavier Langlois (24:07)
Scott Brown (24:07)
Shiba Inu. Great. Okay. Okay, well we’ll get a photo…
Xavier Langlois (24:13)
He doesn't, so you might have seen today in our offices, but we have between three and five dogs every day. But I can't bring him because he's an absolute monster with other dogs. All right. So I've only brought him once but I had to like message everyone to be like, please don't bring your dog in because I will bring Hero
Scott Brown (24:30)
What was he doing?
Xavier Langlois (24:31)
He likes to dominate other dogs, thinks he's top dog. I think partly it’s because of the breed, they’re primitive breeds so they're very got very strong personality, basically a human and a cat in the dog's body. But yeah, he likes to think that he rules everyone
Scott Brown (24:53)
So lesson three,
Xavier Langlois (24:55)
I think we touched a little bit on it, but I think it's for me, it's what's really helped me is not just being the lawyer, again, because the role of the in-house counsel has the expectation has changed a lot over the years. I think, originally, people saw it as like, well, instead of spending money with an external firm, why don't we just hire some legal technical guy to come and sort contracts out? But the role is, I mean, it's not even the roll. Right? The roll is about bigger than that. And it's about Yeah, advising the business advising the CEO, talking about strategy talking about how do you help grow the business? How do you think about an exit? How do you know all of the things, talking to investors, you know, what matters to them, you know, all of this. So for me, what's really helped me is from early on in my career has been really close to the business. And that's not just, you will often talk about internal clients as a legal team, right, which can be your sales team can be your marketing team, your HR team, you know, whoever, but it's building relationships, even outside of that, to really get to a position where you fully understand how the business works. And I think as lawyers, something that's often overlooked is we have a unique perspective of a business because you get to see literally every aspect of it from when, you know, even before your company goes to look out for customers, right through the marketing team. And then when that customer comes into the sales team, and then what happens after that in terms of support, because we again, we see all of these queries come in, and we help those teams with all of these initiatives in many ways, right? So we have a very unique perspective. And often I find myself in positions where I'd be like, hey, you know, talking to someone being like, well, this, someone else in this other team is doing something, either the same or completely different. Maybe you too, should speak. And it's helping connect people within the business. And I think yeah, legal can be a great conduit to that. And by doing that, you then speak the business language. Yeah, a lot quicker, and again, has helped me. I don't think if I'd done that I would probably be where I am today. Yeah, not that way. I'm today's like, be all and end all. But it's really helped me in my career. Because again, you know, yeah, people will. As I say, if I ever catch myself talking about pure legal things with my CEO, then I like I literally like stopped myself, because it's not what he wants to hear. He wants to talk about the business. He wants to talk about, how do we get new customers? How do we, at the moment, everything is about generative AI, right. How do we incorporate that into our product? What does that look like? Sure, in my mind, I'm thinking about the legal privacy and AI side of things, but he doesn't need to know that he just wants to know, how do we get to market in two weeks? Yeah, he wants solution and doesn't want problems? I think the quicker people get that as their mindset. I think it can help people hugely in their career.
Scott Brown (27:36)
Yeah. And when did you first learn that then in terms of resistance to comment, or how did
Xavier Langlois (27:41)
it was by being on secondment, I think it was really lucky as well, to have really good mentors. He's gonna be big headed if I call him out on this, but the first GC that I worked with a Callaway guy called Tim Ross, I learned a lot because he was very business savvy, very sort of close to the business. And to me, that appealed to me, right? Because again, some lawyers could be frightened by that being thrown into that deep end and being completely out of your comfort zone. But I actually thrive on it. So yeah, I saw what he did and thought, hey, this really appeals to me.
Scott Brown (28:15)
Yeah, that's what you want someone aspirational? Exactly. To look up to him.
Xavier Langlois (28:18)
But don't call him that, because his head's gonna explode over that.
Scott Brown (28:24)
Yeah! And how would you advise if someone's in, you've been in bigger corporates and those legal teams and perhaps, feels pigeonholed in a position where they don't have that exposure? How could someone or how would you recommend someone goes about getting that exposure?
Xavier Langlois (28:38)
Yeah, I think there's always opportunities. Obviously, if you work in a startup, it's a lot easier when a growth company, right, because there's lit I mean, there's never enough people. And there's, there's always things to do in all areas. Yeah. Right. So I think that's, that's a no brainer, that's easy. But if you work in a bigger corporation, I think it's just again, finding out ways of so ESG, for example, is a big thing that a lot of lawyers or legal teams are being asked to look after. Because again, some companies see it as a compliance tick box discussion for another day. But again, that can really help elevate junior lawyers or anyone in the legal team's profile internally and get a different breadth of experience. It might not be purely legal. But again, it's the whole recognition of Oh, yeah, I worked with so and so from the legal team on this right. And all these things help. And then from a pure legal perspective, again, just putting your hand up. And so we have now with our trainee solicitor who just qualified and the discussions we're having with her now is, you know, what areas do you want to dig a bit more into? And I think what I can do to help her is help her network, help her attend, seminars, webinars, you know, all of these great things that a lot of companies do and every time there's a piece of work that comes up in that area, make sure that she's on it, either, you know, leading it or shadowing, you know, whatever that might be, but I think people should not be afraid to put their hand up and say, Hey, I have an interest in doing this. Like at the moment, you know, our paralegal who's now trainee he was like, I want to do Legal ops. So we gave him all of legal ops, right. So yeah, I think people should not be afraid to sort of put their hand up and say I have an interest, you know, how do I do more? Again, that just shows a side of you that I think people would appreciate wanting to go above and beyond right. Yeah, taken. And also, the other thing I learned, I know you only asked for three, but I'll give you a false one get bonus? Don't be. Don't be afraid to say you don't know. I think again, there's such huge pressure people think or create that pressure that whenever your CEO CFO ask you something, you should know the answer like this. The reality is that you don't. And again, if you think of, you know, when you engage with external counsel, in a law firm, they all have specialties, right? So no one person was everything. So you as a human cannot know everything. And I think knowing that I think people appreciate and respect it more. So I've had chats with our founder now, and you know, he actually prefers it when I tell him that I don't know something, as opposed to trying to bullshit my way through pretending that I know it and being like, hey, I don't know this. I'll come back to you tomorrow, I'll find you the information. Yeah. And which is why you know, communities of lawyers or just knowing who to pick up the phone to get that answer within 24 hours is, is super valuable. But yeah, don’t be afraid to say that you don't know,
Scott Brown (31:13)
do you think is a trait of a lawyer? Do you think lawyers being, thinking that they should know everything? Or 100%? You don't see in other areas within a business accountants or HR if they have any happier to say?
Xavier Langlois (31:26)
Yeah, that's a good question. Not as much, I think, I don't know if it comes from the fact that, again, we're all sort of trained, or at least there's always this stuff, you know, lawyers get paid to give an answer. Yeah. So therefore, if you get asked something, you need to give them an answer. So I think maybe that's where it stems from, and then you're going back sort of hundreds of years, right. Yeah, I think that's still in people's mindset. I remember when I was a trainee, and you know, you get an email from a client and partners would go berserk. If you'd even sort of tried to respond to say that you need to you don't know right? You need to look into it. Pros again. Now I'm like, Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I don't know. What am I gonna tell you?
Scott Brown (32:01)
Yeah, exactly. There's no, nobody's winning in that. Fight. Just answer. Amazing. Thank you so much for having us today to record this. I've really enjoyed the really enjoyed the conversation. Those are great lessons. And that really, really good. Thank you for sharing.
Xavier Langlois (32:17)
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Scott Brown (32:22)
Thank you for listening to Lessons I Learned in Law. For more episodes, and we've got a great back catalogue of guests from previous series, check out heriotbrown.com/podcast. I'm Scott. I'll see you next time.