Katie, on the quality and variety of legal work at Experian
Katie, Commercial Solicitor, shares her experiences moving from private practice to an in-house environment.
What was your path to Experian?
I started in November 2010, before that I was a lawyer in a law firm. I wanted to change from working in private practice to an in-house environment. Experian was an attractive prospect because the legal work sounded interesting and it’s a good size team.
What sort of things do you do?
My main focus is contracts. It’s a subdivision of the legal team that is responsible for client contracts for Experian’s services. I advise on, draft, and negotiate contracts with clients.
I also get involved in advising on new product developments and putting together contracts for selling new products. For example, the new products we’re launching in Open Banking. I’ve been looking at how we’re going to sell those services to our clients and what terms we will need in place.
There are lawyers in the team who work on intellectual property and disputes, others who focus on data protection and regulatory work. Also, there’s a couple of lawyers who work on mergers and acquisitions, so there’s a wide range of work quite a big range of stuff we do in the team.
What do you like about working at Experian?
I don’t think a week goes by without something I’ve not seen before landing on my desk. Normally, a trade-off for going in-house might be that you get less variety, but that’s not the case here - you constantly have new challenges to think about.
A major benefit of working in-house is that you get to see the fruits of your labour. If you’re working in a law firm and someone sends you a contract, you review it, and send some advice back, and then you may never hear of it again. Working in-house, you work on something, and then you get to see if it turns into a multi-million-pound deal, or a new product being launched. You get to see how what you do fits into the bigger picture, and see the benefits of it.
Why are there so many new challenges at Experian?
It’s an innovative business, and we’re moving into new areas all the time. Buying new companies, or launching new products, and dealing with how changing regulations affect us. A lot of the time, what makes it difficult, but interesting, is that we don’t always fit into the box. So, there is often new legislation, but it won’t have been designed to work for a Credit Reference Agency. One of the things we have to do in legal is figure out how all those pieces of legislation that don’t quite work for us need to be applied.
What do you find enjoyable or satisfying about working at Experian?
For me, it’s constantly having challenges and new things to get involved in, and working with some very clever people.
The quality of work is what keeps most people here. It’s intellectually stimulating, and I don’t think anyone would get bored because there’s always something new to do.
We’re quite a big team, so there are lots of opportunities to get involved in new specialisms. And, it’s a really nice, supportive team to work in.
What do you think it takes to be successful at Experian?
You’ve got to be willing to take on difficult and challenging work, and to make an effort to understand. You’ve got to invest in understanding how Experian works and how its products work because you can’t give good legal advice without knowing a reasonable amount about the business.
I think we need people who are fairly robust, because sometimes we have to tell people things that they don’t want to hear. We might have to tell someone that we can’t accept a contract term a client is asking for even though it’s a high-value contract, or advise against launching a product because there’s a risk with it. Equally, we can’t say no all the time. We need people who can look at the big picture, assess risks, and come up with solutions to get around the challenges.
What are the key questions or concerns you think people might have about working at Experian?
You might be concerned that you’d be on your own as an in-house lawyer, but we’ve got a really good team here, and there’s plenty of support. You won’t be coming in, being thrown in at the deep end and asked to do stuff without help.
On the face of it, being a contracts lawyer at Experian might sound boring “don’t you just spend all your time negotiating data contracts with banks?”. But if you look at the bigger picture, we do a lot of new and exciting stuff and get the chance to get involved in launching new products and working at the cutting-edge of new legislation. Plus, if you look over the last year, we’ve bought two or three new companies, so obviously there is lots of interesting legal work to do with buying and integrating those, too.
People might be concerned about the workload and the hours that they’d have to work. We do have large workloads; it’s part and parcel of the role. But compared to lawyers in private practice, we probably have a bit more control over our working day. I wouldn’t want to give people the impression that it’s an easy life, as it’s not the case, but there probably is a bit more of a work-life balance than you’d get in private practice. There are people in the team who work part-time, and a lot of people work from home, either permanently or at least a few days a week.
What about career progression?
A lot of people have joined the team in one role and ended up moving into something else. There are opportunities to move roles and to progress up. During the time I’ve been here, I’ve got involved in more challenging and more interesting work. I’ve also taken on responsibility for competition law compliance and recently taken on a management role.
Why is Experian a good place to work?
The main selling points are the quality and the variety of work you can get involved in and, it’s a really nice team of people to work with.
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