Collaborating Across the Legal Ecosystem: A Sneak Peek at This Year’s LVNx Conference Experience | Latitude Legal
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Collaborating Across the Legal Ecosystem: A Sneak Peek at This Year’s LVNx Conference Experience

Season 2, Episode 4

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Show Notes

Conference season is in full swing! On this episode of Leveraging Latitude, Candice Reed and Tim Haley speak with special guest Alexandra Guajardo, Conference Director for Legal Value Network’s LVNx Conference taking place September 21-23 in Chicago. Alexandra shares an exciting preview of the conference and Legal Value Network’s unique approach to accelerating evolution in the legal industry. From her experience serving as Pricing & Analytics Officer at Shell, Alexandra also shares her insights on the growth and trajectory of legal operations in supporting the people and the business of law.

Transcript

Alexandra Guajardo:

Sometimes that’s hard for some certain new people in legal ops, because that’s a hard thing to understand. It’s like, why do I have to prove that what I bring to the table is actually worth following or listening to?

Candice Reed:

This is Leveraging Latitude, cultivating a full life in the law. And we are your hosts, Candice Reed,

Tim Haley:

And Tim Haley.

Candice Reed:

Please join us on our journey as we discover how to leverage the hard work of becoming a lawyer to achieving success and leading a rich and fulfilling life in the law.

Candice Reed:

Hey Tim, How are you doing today?

Tim Haley:

Candice, I’m doing great as always. And yourself?

Candice Reed:

Great. Ready for some cooler weather, and looking forward to fall and wrapping up the year. It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner.

Tim Haley:

Yeah, fall is always really busy. I mean, you’ve got all the back-to-school and you’ve got the college and professional football, and every weekend gets busier and busier. But it’s also conference season and a lot of people are coming back after COVID. And we’re going to talk to a special guest today who is running one of the biggest legal conferences this September. September 21st through 23rd. It’s the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, third week in September. Alex Guajardo. And with that, Candice, can I introduce you to Alex?

Candice Reed:

Absolutely. Hi, Alex.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Hello. Hi, Tim. Hi Candice. How are you guys today?

Candice Reed:

Doing great. Thank you for being here.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Thank you for having me.

Tim Haley:

Alex is the conference chair for the Legal Value Network, LVNx Conference in Chicago, but she’s also in-house at Shell. So like all of our guests, we’re going to start, Alex, and just ask you directly, how did you get to be where you are?

Alexandra Guajardo:

Well, interesting story, Tim. I started my career many years ago, to the surprise of many people, but I actually worked at a little known law firm that was previously called Fulbright & Jaworski, now known as Norton Rose Fulbright. I started, there as a complex technician, so I used to run complex checks before lawsuits were filed and to make sure that the law firm could take on the client. And I was working there while going to school, and trying to figure out what was next. And moved through different roles, more school, more school, went back to school. I dabbled in different… I was in IT for a while. I actually did programming and worked on their workflow processes and in process improvements. And that led me to the AFA world.

Alexandra Guajardo:

So AFAs were brand-new and people were talking about what is an AFA, what’s an alternative fee arrangement? And I got to work with some really cool people through that. Went back to school and decided that I was tired of the programming, and I want to do more of the finance and strategic planning, and the pricing and profitability. So looking at how profitable the law firm was, and how the partners were doing. And that led me to, after a while of being at Norton Rose Fulbright, almost 15 years, I think a little bit over 15 years, I ended up going to a couple other firms and just moving through the process. And at my last firm, loved working there. Great job. I was actually working very closely with the CFO and the COO under one of the other chiefs, and working on strategic planning of the firm and kind of with the vision of the firm. And then Shell came knocking on the door. And so, as we smart people tend to do, we always consider our options and see if it’s an option worth even thinking about. And after much deliberation, I switched over to the dark side. So I am now on the client’s side, after 20 years of being on the law firm side. And legal operations has always been, unknowingly to me, when you’re working in things that are continuously evolving, that’s what legal operations came to be. And that’s how I ended up here.

Tim Haley:

That is quite a story. And you weren’t just at law firms, you were at some big law firms, before you moved over to Shell. You’ve been at Shell now five years?

Alexandra Guajardo:

Five years, yeah, since a week and a half ago, or two weeks ago.

Tim Haley:

Well, congrats on that.

Candice Reed:

Alex, it’s interesting to me just how many people with various different educational and professional backgrounds are now integral to the legal profession. And not all of them are lawyers. In fact, a lot of people are now a part of the legal profession who are not attorneys. When you were first starting out, did you intend to be among the legal profession and to be a part of the legal industry? Or was that a place where you just found an unexpected home?

Alexandra Guajardo:

So, funny story, I wanted to work at Fulbright & Jaworski when I grew up. Because I did this tour, one of my classes, that we walked through this law firm and they had a really cool server room. All the computers and all the servers were there.

Candice Reed:

What class was that?

Alexandra Guajardo:

It was through, it was like National Honor Society. They took us on a field trip and then through the field trip to go see different businesses. And our sponsor, our teacher was actually, she used to work for a law firm before she became a teacher. So she had connections there, she took us there. I mean, then we went to another business. We went to a bank, and we did three different tours, but the one that stuck out in my head and I was in middle school, was Fulbright & Jaworski. And then I completely forgot about it, fast-forward some years when I was in high school and my co-op teacher, the one that’s teaching you about businesses out there and what kind of degree you want to seek, and where do you want to go to college, and what do you want to do? She used to work in Fulbright & Jaworski, so she mentioned it.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And so I invited the head of the HR department to our job fair for seniors in high school. And that’s kind of how that came to be. That’s how I heard of it. I wanted to work there, but I didn’t know how. So I just knew I wanted to get in the door and I’ll figure out the rest later. So when I got in the door, I was like, “Okay, this is cool, but what’s next? What’s the next thing?” And I kind of just went from there. And I met some really intelligent people along the way, lawyers and others that were just really smart professionals in the field. Because I think unbeknown to me, there’s more people within the legal industry besides just lawyers. The lawyers do keep the wheels, there’s a lot of stuff they’re doing, but they’re experts in their field. And then what I learned is that you need experts to run the business or the law firm as a business, right?

Candice Reed):

Absolutely.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Working with really intelligent people that taught me that very early on, to not take offense to your work being criticized or getting feedback. And always looking at how do you improve on something, that really just became that legal ops mindset. And I think I was very fortunate that I got to work with some of these people that taught me early on in my career that. And when you’re looking to improve, not only personally but professionally, you’re always looking for that improvement. And I think that’s why legal op is so… I feel so passionate about it, because I think this is what this industry is about. People in legal operations want to make continuous improvement and make things better. Better for ourselves, better for our colleagues, better for the people that are coming up behind us. And the only way to do that is really through that collaboration, and the constant discussion as to, “What are you doing and is it working for you?”

Alexandra Guajardo:

And I think when you work through different industries or different fields, you see that everyone just wants to do the best they can at their job. And sometimes it’s not easy, because not everyone has access to the right people or the right tools, the right technology. So if someone’s already gone through some of those growing pains or some of those issues or challenges, what better way than to talk about it so that we are not reinventing the wheel? We’re starting from… I hate to start from zero, if we can start from fifty, I’d rather start from fifty. Why am I starting from zero? So as I’ve worked with… I think, going back to your original question, I didn’t intend to end up in the legal industry. I did consider law school for a bit. I worked with a lot of lawyers. I really thought about it before I went back to graduate school. And really just, the other side called me more.

Candice Reed:

And what is your educational background? Because a lot of people are now asking the question, “How do I get into legal operations? What degree do I need to go get? Or what area of expertise do I need to focus on, in order to break in to that profession or this profession? So you said you went to school, and then some more skills. So what was that?

Alexandra Guajardo:

So I actually have a Bachelor of Business and Computer Information Systems, because I did intend to be in IT for some time. And then when I went back, I actually obtained my Master’s in Business Administration with a focus in finance. And I think a lot of the people that I work with, analytical, anything that has data analytics around it, a business mindset. Finance, because obviously a lot of our work, when you look at pricing, it’s about either saving money or making money. So the finance background is very important. Understanding profitability and strategic, anything that has to do with strategy and moving a business forward, all of that helps in our industry, and legal operations.

Alexandra Guajardo:

I think when legal operations started, there were more people that were not lawyers than there are now. I think a lot of lawyers have kind of moved over to the business side, they don’t want to practice law anymore. They like the legal operations side, it’s more enticing. So there’s a lot of blend. But at the end of the day, legal operations professionals are experts in what they do. And what we bring to the table is that expertise, so that you have the right people doing the right things at the right price. You want the lawyers doing the lawyering, and you want the pricing person figuring out what the right proposal is for their law firm.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And you want on the client side, I want the lawyers focused on what they do best. And I want to make sure that everyone on our team is providing the services that they need, in order for them to continue supporting our businesses in all legal aspects. And also centralizing these operations. It’s important for us to centralize and leverage skillset that we may already have, in order to do things the best way possible.

Tim Haley:

So you’ve been on both sides now. What’s the biggest difference between being in-house and being at a firm, from the legal ops position?

Alexandra Guajardo:

I get that question so much. So, interestingly enough, on the law firm side… The one thing that’s very similar on both sides: you have to win people over on both sides. At the end of the day when I walk in a room, they want, “Why are you here?” I’ve had a partner come in and say, “Hey, why should I listen to what you have to say? I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive”. And my response was like, “I appreciate that, not that young”. But I do think that you have to win your audience over and they have to kind of see-

Alexandra Guajardo:

I do think that you have to win your audience over and they have to see what you bring to the table. And sometimes that’s hard for certain new people in legal ops because that’s a hard thing to understand. It’s like, why do I have to prove that what I bring to the table is actually worth following or listening to?

Alexandra Guajardo:

But at the end of the day, I think the hardest thing is I’m always negotiating with someone. It’s a little bit harder, I think, on the business side, on the client side, our attorneys are getting pushed by the business. So we have attorneys that with the business, so sometimes our attorneys here forget how much things take on the law firm side. So then I’m in the middle of trying to figure out what do we need, how do we get it, and if it’s the right thing for our attorneys. And then convince them that the proposals that are coming in from the firms are the right ones. Just because there’s either overestimations or underestimations. So the managing of the relationship it’s a little trickier than it was at on the law firm side.

Alexandra Guajardo:

I think on the law firm side, the managing partner or the CEO are saying this is a team you have to work with and this is what you have to do. People who are pretty much after the first initial question, they get over and they’re fine and they’re like, “okay, yep”. But on the client side, because our attorneys are getting bombarded by their own clients, our attorneys have their own clients, it gets a little trickier for people like me and legal ops to get that working in a seamless way. It’s a little bit more challenging on this side.

Tim Haley:

That’s fascinating. And maybe we’ll do a whole podcast on that someday.

Candice Reed:

I do think it’s interesting to know that even though you are on the business side where we often think of numbers, charts, spreadsheets, all of those very concrete things, it’s still a people business. And as you mentioned that you’re still having to win people over. You’re still negotiating, you’re still relying on your relational skills to be able to move the ball forward and to get people on your side and on your team. I really appreciate you mentioning that because I think that’s important too.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Yeah, I completely agree. I think that working on building the relationships is probably one of the most important parts of my job. People have to trust me not only on the inside, our attorneys have to trust that I’m trying to do the best thing for them, for their case, for what they’re asking, for their request. But also on the law firm side, my law firms have to be able to trust that I’m not just pushing them for the sake of pushing. That I’m really coming from a place of look, we’re just trying to find the right level of alignment and making sure that we’re on the same page on both sides to prevent either misinterpretations or miscommunication or any issues in the future. Be proactively addressing anything that could potentially come out or minimizing our risk. That’s what I do. It’s like I’m looking at how do we minimize our risks, not only for Shell, but also for our law firms so that of the day it’s a relationship that continues.

Alexandra Guajardo:

I always tell the law firms, we don’t use any law firm once and we’re done. So you don’t want to burn a bridge. You don’t want the law firms to think that we’re in it to either slight them or just take advantage of them. And, vice versa, our attorneys have to be able to trust our firms. And that’s also where I pivot. So, I have to be able to have a good enough relationship with both sides so that when the difficult conversation has to happen, because things don’t always go as planned, I can do so in a candid way, in a very professional and very productive way. That only comes from that relationship that was built. And without the relationship, the conversations still happen, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not as easy to have those conversations when there is no relationship or when there is no trust on either side.

Tim Haley:

Yeah, that’s really well said. Well, now for the hard right turn, what is the Legal Value Network and how did you get involved?

Alexandra Guajardo:

So Legal Value Network came to be, I think right in the middle…the plan was starting right before the pandemic and then the pandemic happened, and it’s the word that nobody wants to say anymore. I think we’re all pandemic-fatigued. No one wants to say the word, everybody’s over it, it’s been two years. I think it was the brainchild of some people that are in the industry. And one of the main reasons for it is to make sure that we’re all collaborating and having a voice at the table. And I think there’s a lot of great organizations out there that connect people in the same industry. I mean, we’re members of some, there’s CLOC, there’s ACC, there’s ILTA. I mean, when you think about conferences or organizations, a lot of them are geared towards just one side of the ecosystem. They’re like, we call it the LVN ecosystem is vendor, client, law firm, law firm, client, vendor. Everyone that’s involved in the legal industry.

Alexandra Guajardo:

I think one of the things that makes LVN so different and enticing is that this really is supposed to allow all of us to sit at the table and have these very difficult conversations. And sometimes they’re not as difficult, sometimes they’re easier. And say, “this is what I’m doing because I think I’m great. I’m the client and you guys should all do what I’m saying”. And then the law firm say, “well, but this is what happens when you’re asking for this”. And here comes the vendor and say, “well, when we’re giving you guys a call and nobody answers the phone”. So I think it’s being able to have these conversations and talk amongst each other and learn from each other’s different motivators and drivers, that’s why LVN came to be.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Whereas the others, I can go to the other conferences or the other organizations, but I’m only talking to people within my own industry. I’m only talking to clients. But I was on the law firm side I was only talking to other people on the law firm side. And then a little bit of it becomes, we do help each other but then you’re not getting the full perspective. You’re only getting the one sided. Which they’re still help in that, I don’t want to disregard or discredit that. There’s value in it. But I think the most value you can get from LVN as an organization is we’re building a community of people that we can literally pick up the phone and I can call Tim or I can call Toby and say, have you heard about this technology? Have you heard about this process improvement? Have you heard of this new type of AFA? That kind of stuff.

Tim Haley:

Yeah. So I got involved with Legal Value Network I’ll share a little bit through Jared Applegate. So shout out to Jared. He and I worked together for a long time before I came over to Latitude. But what’s really been eye opening for me is exactly what you said, Alex. It’s peer to peer and everybody comes in as equals. And we’re coming from a different perspective. We talk about real issues, but we do it in a way that isn’t adversarial at all. It’s been fun.

Tim Haley:

How did you get involved? And then, you’re the Conference Director for the very first ever LVN conference, so how did that happen?

Alexandra Guajardo:

So I used to work with Toby Brown back in my very early Fulbright & Jaworski days, we actually were work peers there, and he was working on AFAs. So I met him through there, so that’s one connection. And then I’ve met a lot of the people on the board through different organizations and working in this industry for a long time. And I was asked if I was interested and I thought it was a great idea and I joined the organization. And then when they were talking about putting together the first conference, I joined some of the committees and I wanted to volunteer not only my time, but my ideas so that I could help steer at least some of the things that made sense for me and to see if it made sense for me. I wanted to understand if what they were saying really made sense, and it did.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And then I was so involved in the committees. I think we postponed the first conference, and I had been so involved, heavily involved in that planning of that when the first conference was postponed and we went to road show, I continued to be involved and then the board came to me and asked if I would be interested in being a co-chair. And I was like, of course. I mean, I feel like it’s quite the honor that we’re having this very first in person LVN conference and I get to be part of it. So, I saw it as a win-win. Like I get to connect with all these people and I also get to be a part of the team that’s putting it together. So, for me, it has been a really great opportunity. Awesome.

Candice Reed:

So Alex, as Tim mentioned at the very beginning of this episode, this is historically conference season here in the fall. But this year there seems to be even more excitement and desire to actually get together at these conferences because for many groups we are doing it for the first time in person, or at least the first time in person in a long time. Describe the energy around this conference. Who is coming? What will you be doing? What do you hope to accomplish in the days that you’re together there in Chicago?

Alexandra Guajardo:

Yeah, so I think one of the things about the conference season is obviously all of our time is limited and we all have day jobs, unfortunately, or fortunately, right, so we can’t attend everything and obviously budgetary constraints. So it’s very hard to decide which conference to go to. I’m excited to go to LVNx just because I think it’s the conference that’s going to bring, we’re going to have vendors, clients, and law firms all there. It’s a good size conference. They’re keeping it under certain number, I think it’s under 400, just because, you want people to be able to engage and interact, meet each other. It is the first time that people are in the room together that they may have known each other virtually for the last two years. I mean, there’s a lot of people I’ve met and I’ve known for two years through this camera, through my laptop, but I haven’t met him person yet. So, that’s the most exciting part about that too.

Alexandra Guajardo:

But I think one of the things that we’ve lost in the last couple years is the sense of community. We can talk through the camera, we can talk on the phone, but you want to interact and socialize with people that are like-minded, like you, and have ideas and want to rest them and talk and challenge you and have engaging and interesting and intelligent conversations. So, I think that’s the most exciting part about the conference that we’re all going to be there and I don’t know who’s going to get to talk. And I’m sorry, I talk fast and I talk a lot. So I’m going to tell you that the people at the conference are going to have to stop me.

Alexandra Guajardo:

But there’s been so many committee members and all volunteer time. There’s quite a few committees. We have a programming committee, a sponsor committee, the networking and socializing committee, which that’s the fun committee. I’m a co-chair on that too. But we have the marketing committee. There’s so many committees and all these committees are made up of members of LVN that are giving their time and putting in their effort and their ideas together to come up with really great programming, structure, timing, just all of it. And in a great venue at the Marriott on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago and really just allow us to all engage with each other and go to these sessions that are being put by other members of the Legal Value Network in many different spaces, LPM and Pricing and DNI. There’s so many great topics and you’ll be able to pick based on what’s the most interest and where you are in your career, and then also to network from there. I think one of the biggest goals from LVN is to go there, meet some new people, and continue the conversation and continue to build their relationship and, really, continue to have those discussions. So it’s really just that LVN is the starting point, for many people, but there’s a lot of new people and new faces in the industry right now and we want to continue to cultivate those and allow more people to come in onboard and really bring them in and have everyone work together on that. So it’s a jump. We talk about there’s going to be a mentorship opportunities if you want to be a mentor, if you want to be a mentee. Sometimes you don’t want to be the mentor, you want to have a mentor instead. You want to be the mentee. I think the conference is going to allow people to really get something out of it, depending on their level of engagement and what they want to do.

Candice Reed:

Just as you’re talking, I am thinking about all of the conversations that happen outside of the programming at these conferences and that those are the conversations that we’ve missed over the last two and a half years, the conversations in the hallway, over dinner, at the coffee table, in the lounge after the conference day is over. And that is often where you really start to get traction towards some sort of solution or some sort of next action step. It’s like the actual programming gives you the tools that you then start to implement during the lawyer in me wants to call them the sidebar conversations, all of the ancillary networking that happens outside of the big conference room. So just listening to you, I’m like, “Oh, yes, that is what we’ve all been missing.” I’ve been missing that. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Tim Haley:

So speaking of fun, you mentioned the networking and social committee. I’m honored to be serving on that committee with you. I’m wondering if you might preview some of the fun stuff. If there’s people out there that are listening and thinking, “Hey, maybe I want to go to this conference,” or people who catch this after the conference is over that might want to attend next year, what do we have planned, that you feel comfortable sharing, about the fun things?

Alexandra Guajardo:

One of the things we wanted to do was make sure that the conference was not only engaging, interesting, but also fun. This is a lot of people’s first time out into the conference world and we wanted to give people an opportunity to engage. And sometimes, when you walk into the room and you don’t know anyone, even for people like me, I’m an extrovert and I can talk to anyone, but when you walk into a room full of people, it’s a little difficult to start a conversation. So a lot of the things that we’ve created from the network and social committee was how do we get people to engage with each other in an easier way, a little bit organically, but a little bit with a little bit of help.

Candice Reed:

We have all lost a lot of practice over the last couple of years.

Alexandra Guajardo:

We’ve all lost practice. So we have some games. I think we have this a roadmap game that we have some great prizes and it’s really a roadmap which will allow you to go meet people and go talk to people with an excuse of, “I’m trying to fill out my roadmap game,” because at the end of the day, at the very end of the conference, we’re going to have some really great prizes, including a free registration for next year’s conference. And there’s other really great prizes, some Apple prizes, but the game is really intended to give you the little help that you need to just go strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before in an easier way without it feeling so awkward. And I think sometimes we all need a little help, especially after being locked up a couple years.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And then we also have some other meet and greets. We have a WIN session, which is our Women’s Initiative Network, that we’ll have a reception. We have some receptions, happy hour receptions, and there’s games and prizes. So if people stay through the end of the conference, there’ll be some raffles going on. But I think the networking committee had really put their heads together and say, “How do we not only learn from the conference, but how do we also make it fun?” Tim, what do you think? I think we’ve done pretty well with it.

Tim Haley:

I’ve been really impressed with how intentional everyone’s been about making this as inclusive as possible for people so that you can walk in and know no one, but ideally, walk out of the conference having new best friends. So that’s been the mindset of the committee as we’ve walked through the summer and it has been a lot of work. And Alex, I feel like you’ve done all of it, but …

Alexandra Guajardo):

No. I just said I’m a controlling mindset, so that’s a problem. I’ve learned to delegate better through this conference because I cannot touch all of it. But yes, we’re all new and I think that’s one of the things that we wanted to … This is the first conference for all of us. And even though some of us know each other, we don’t want anyone coming into the conference and feeling like they’re the unknown. So really, inclusivity is extremely important for this. I’ve attended other conferences where you don’t know anyone and then you come out of there and you’re like, “Well, how many people did I really get to meet or actually meet that I’ll follow up with and I’ll actually have a conversation with later?”

Alexandra Guajardo:

And there was a lot of intent and a lot of thought put into that because that’s extremely important to us, as a community. I think Legal Value Network, the inclusivity, that’s why the ecosystem is important. That’s the mindset that we’ve grasped onto and said, “How do we push that through and how do we make that happen? And how do we help people coming into the community feel the sense of community?” because we can talk about community all day long, but what can we do to help continue to build it and help put that in place?

Candice Reed:

And I think so many of us are yearning for that right now. As you said earlier, we’re all pandemic-fatigued. We don’t want to say the word, we don’t want to talk about it anymore, we don’t want to talk about all the pivots that we made and all the lessons that we’ve learned, but it did happen and there are lingering after effects or through effects of that thing that we shall not mention, and one of them is that yearning for community because many of us have been communing with colleagues and friends and coworkers over a screen for the last couple of years. And while we have all become used to that and, in many ways, it has increased our efficiency and given us a little more flexibility, I think that there is a real need and desire to get together in person and just see how tall people are, actually.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Isn’t that funny? So we actually have been meeting some people that have been coming to our show office from other offices and the first thing, we were like, “Wow, you’re a lot taller than I expected.” And I don’t think anyone has told me, not once, that I’m taller than they expected because I’m only five three and a half, and I own the half because I need it, but-

Candice Reed:

Same. Same, right here.

Alexandra Guajardo:

… it is the funniest thing because I think we only see very small portion that people … and sometimes people’s personalities don’t always come through the screen. Some people are very business and you miss a lot of the cues, the social cues or the facial expressions. Some people aren’t comfortable being on camera, so they don’t turn their camera on. I think there’s something to be said about being in front of someone in person and how that helps in building the relationship and just solidifying that connection. The value in that is just, to me, it’s immense.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And I think, as we were sitting through this conference and these sessions, we really wanted to have some extra time just so people can connect. And I think that’s what people are going out there for. They’re very interested in the programming, and I promise you the programming is great, but I think the other piece is the personal connections. Right?

Candice Reed:

Sure.

Alexandra Guajardo:

We all want to go in there and just continue to make them and build them.

Candice Reed:

Well, it sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic conference. I know you both will be attending, so I hope that you have a great time. And this has served as a little bit of a teaser –

Tim Haley:

That’s right

Candice Reed:

… for anyone who may be looking at getting back into in-person gatherings and building or rebuilding their network. I would like to take advantage of your 25 years or more in the legal industry and ask you, what do you see on the horizon? If you were to look in your crystal ball and maybe project or predict out five, ten years from now, what do you see as some future trends in the legal profession or how it might be changing, as we speak?

Alexandra Guajardo:

I don’t see the trend … I don’t see it slowing down. I think, if anything, it’s just ramping up. Legal operations professionals are coming on … There’s more people coming onboard. There’s people transitioning from other roles within legal into more of a legal operations role. A lot of companies have gone through some shifts, some major shifts. They’ve actually minimized either hiring or they’ve reduced their overall spend or they’ve reduced how many people they have on their teams. So legal operations only becomes more important because that means that things need to be centralized, streamlined, and improved so that you can do more with the people you have without overtaxing them.

Alexandra Guajardo:

At the end of the day, people want to have a work/life balance. And legal operations, when you’re able to make improvements and leverage the skillset that you might have elsewhere or things that are working really well in a different part of the department, it benefits everyone within that team. So I see this field just continuing to expand. There’s a lot of interest. There’s going to be a lot of growth. I don’t see any slowdown on the horizon. I don’t see it.

Candice Reed:

It’s interesting to hear you position legal operations not only as a means to be more financially savvy and to move the business forward, but also as a wellness or a wellbeing component to the team and to the profession, maximizing everyone’s strengths so that no one feels overextended and that you’re taking advantage of the team’s strengths to move the goal or move towards the goal to move the business forward.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Yeah, no, I definitely, I think that’s extremely important. I think with anything we’ve learned from the last two years is that everyone wants balance. And then, so what can we learn from how we’re doing things today to make it better so that we can achieve that? Right?

Candice Reed:

Absolutely.

Alexandra Guajardo:

It’s not always just about money. It’s not about making money or saving money. It’s about also the people. And if the people are happy and growing and learning, they tend to stick around.

Candice Reed:

Absolutely.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And they tend to want to do more and be more. And that’s what you want for anyone. That’s what I want for myself. And I’m sure and that’s what I want for people on my team. And that’s what I want for people that I work with. So I think that’s just, that’s the mindset of legal ops, right? How can we all move together forward, as an industry to improve the conditions for all involved? Not just one person.

Tim Haley:

Yeah. That’s great. We’ve, Candice and I have done a couple podcasts specifically on wellness issues and I don’t want to disparage the legal industry too much, but we’re as lawyers anyway, particularly bad at taking care of ourselves sometimes, but it’s something that I know has had a lot of study on it. I know we’ve talked a lot about it and I think you’re exactly right. You’re managing resources. And how do you get the most out of your people? Well, the people have to be happy and productive and working towards something that they feel is valuable.

Candice Reed:

Yeah. I’m really happy that we’re now extending the wellness conversation beyond yoga classes and a well-balanced meal.

Alexandra Guajardo:

And meditation.

Candice Reed:

Right. All of those things are important, don’t get me wrong, but how you run your business, the culture that you create within your organization, how you hire, how you work on the pipeline. Here you’re talking about a field trip that you took in middle school and how it focused the trajectory of your professional career for the next few decades. Those things are all important and they all have a place within that wellness umbrella, I think. And so I’m happy that we’re talking about that as well. Alex, I really appreciate your time and your insight today. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you and get to know you a little better.

Tim Haley:

Alex, thank you so much.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Yeah. Thank you guys for having me. I’m always … hey, this is a … I’m passionate about these topics. I love the fact that we’re all able to meet each other in person, but that we have this hybrid solution now. Right? It’s more accepted. We can have these discussions, but at the end of the day, I think it’s just, I love talking to people and I don’t mind doing any of these. So anytime you guys have any other topic you want to talk about, open and willing.

Tim Haley:

We’ll definitely have you back, Alex. Definitely. Thank you so much.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Thank you for having me. This was awesome. And I can’t wait to see you, Tim at the conference and Candice, hopefully I’ll meet you in person.

Candice Reed:

I know. Now I’m making plans for next year.

Alexandra Guajardo:

So it’s not too late to sign up for the conference, but if you can’t make it this year, I will be the co-chair next year again because it’s a two year, I accepted for two years.

Tim Haley:

That’s exciting. Right? Yeah, you’ll have fun. Well, Alex, I’ll see you in Chicago.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Yes.

Tim Haley:

And anybody listening, who’s going to be there. I’ll see you there too.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Sounds great. Thank you.

Tim Haley:

All righty.

Candice Reed:

Bye, bye.

Alexandra Guajardo:

Bye.

Candice Reed:

Tim, Alex mentioned all of the great programming that is going to be a part of the LVNx conference. My understanding is that there is one superstar speaker that’s going to be participating at the conference. Do you know who I’m talking about?

Tim Haley:

Well, there’s lots of superstars here. I assume you mean Alex, but she’s also speaking, but no, I know.

Candice Reed:

There’s one additional superstar, I guess I should say.

Tim Haley:

I’m faking modesty here.

Candice Reed:

You. That’s who I’m talking about, you. What are you talking about?

Tim Haley:

So I do have a presentation 8:30 AM, Friday morning, Central Time. That’s September 23rd. I’ll be speaking with Brad Blickstein, who’s been a guest on this podcast and Carmen Brun, who’s the head of Konexo US. And we’re going to be talking about flexible talent and how to use flexible talent for law firms, captive ALSPs and corporate clients together, in ways that solve a staffing needs, but also pricing needs, because there’s lots of different alternatives out there, including finding people on an engagement basis that might be able to fill in for a project and solve your pricing needs. So that’s what-

Candice Reed:

Certainly something you know about.

Tim Haley:

A little bit, yeah.

Candice Reed:

And as Alex just mentioned, it’s not just about pricing.

Tim Haley:

It’s about people.

Candice Reed:

We have this wellbeing component. It’s about the team and we’ve talked to a few legal operations professionals over the course of this podcast. And the one thing that I continue to be impressed with or by, is that the legal profession or the legal industry is really opening up the net, if you will. Or casting a much wider net. We’re including a lot more people, a lot with different strengths, with different backgrounds, educational and professional, to really better the industry as a whole. And it’s not as lawyer-centric as it used to be. And that seems to be a really good thing.

Tim Haley:

I think it’s a great thing. I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of new perspectives. One of the things though that still-

Candice Reed:

Not that we don’t love lawyers, let me just go back.

Tim Haley:

No, but-

Candice Reed:

You can be the center of the universe, if you want to, lawyers. I shouldn’t have said that.

Tim Haley:

The thing that it always keeps coming back to though are people. This is a people business, by people, serving people. And we’re just looking at it different ways and you can look at it straight on numbers. You can look at it straight from anecdotally, from an individual’s perspective. Or you can choose to look at it holistically across the entire industry. At the end of the day, we’re talking people. That’s what lawyers are. That’s what the legal industry is.

Candice Reed:

Absolutely. And that’s where it gets fun. That’s, I think, what is energizing to a lot of people who are in the legal profession. How many of us started law school because we wanted to change the world? But anyway, great conversation with Alex. I really appreciate you introducing the two of us and also introducing her to our audience. And I’m looking forward to our next conversation.

Tim Haley:

She’s a star, the LVN network. If you want any more information, legalvaluenetwork.com and the conference schedule’s up there as well. Or you can reach out to me or Candice and we’ll get you connected to the right place.

Candice Reed:

I hope it’s a great conference, Tim. Have a blast.

Tim Haley:

It’ll be great. See you all in Chicago.

Tim Haley:

Thank you for joining us today. If you found this content valuable, please tell a friend or colleague about us. Also, if you can, please give us a rating and a short review on your podcast listening platform. The more ratings and reviews we have, the more people will find us. If you have a question, reach out to us at latitudelegal.com.

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