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Lisa Lang a passionate General Counsel and In-house Lawyer

By Susan Freeman

Susan Freeman, CEO and Founder of Conscious Inclusion Company interviews General Counsel Lisa Lang (photo), member of the Conscious Inclusion Company advisory committee

Lisa Lang is an in-house lawyer and thought leader who is passionate about all things in-house. She has recently launched a website and blog Why This, Not That™ to serve as a resource for in-house lawyers. You can e-mail her at, connect with her on LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter.

Lisa currently serves as the General Counsel for Kentucky State University (KSU). Prior to coming to KSU, Lisa first worked in private practice specializing in insurance defense for a law firm in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 2008, Lisa transitioned into the public sector to work for the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Office of the Attorney General as an Assistant Attorney General and then for the Kentucky Department of Education serving in various in-house roles beginning in 2011.

Lisa also serves as a member of the advisory committee at Conscious Inclusion Company, LLC.

Susan: How are you identifying and preventing litigation and regulatory risk?

Lisa: Risk is a part of doing business. As in-house lawyers, our job is not to prevent risk. Our job is to understand the risk to our company and our company’s tolerance for that risk. With that knowledge, we help support our company company’s effort to mitigate the risk.

How do we develop that understanding?

  • We take the time to understand our company’s industry and how our company’s business operates within that industry.

  • We take the time to build relationships based on trust and respect with our company’s employees at all levels.

  • We make ourselves accessible to company employees and actively listen to what they have to say.

  • We have the courage to say things that the company leadership may not be thrilled to hear.

Unfortunately, litigation is frequently the cost of doing business. We do what we can to help our company avoid litigation, but we don’t shy away from it when it is the only way to meet the company’s objective.

Susan: How are you contributing to the enterprise’s cost optimization efforts?

Lisa: We take an active role in evaluating and revising our company client’s policies, procedures, and processes. We work collaboratively alongside with internal and external partners in that effort. We also take an active role in evaluating active contracts with internal partners in an effort to find possible ways to save our company money.

Susan: What are you doing to promote diversity within the legal department and among outside providers?

Lisa: I am proud of the diverse legal team with whom I work. Over the years, we have worked hard to find strong and capable team members who would complement the strengths and weaknesses of our existing team members. We have succeeded in that effort.

We also firmly believe in working to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. We contribute to that effort by mentoring and sponsoring students interested in the legal profession.

As far as promoting diversity among outside providers, it can be a bit challenging because we are required to select our outside counsel from a list of lawyers provided by our insurance carrier.

United Educators, one insurance carrier with whom I have worked, has been very receptive to this discussion and is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for the law firms on its list of panel counsel

Susan: How are you getting closer to the business units?

Lisa: As a legal department, we value the relationships we have with our company’s business units. We have built relationships with our business units over time in a variety of ways.

  • We take the time to participate in company-wide events even when we feel there is no time because of competing priorities.

  • We stop by the offices of our business units daily just to check in and see how they are doing.

  • We have hosted small gatherings just to show our appreciation of our business units.

  • We make it clear to our business units that we are around to help and frequently volunteer to serve as a sounding board when our business units are working through a business challenge.

Susan: How are you leveraging legal technology?

Lisa: We understand the importance of technology, in general. When the global pandemic forced us to work in a remote environment, we recognized the need to accelerate our efforts to use the technology we currently had more fully while also exploring new technology available to help us manage our work more efficiently

We devoted the most time and effort to develop a contract lifecycle management system. We are still in the early stages of this project, but we are working diligently to build out this system.

Susan: What are you doing to improve processes in the legal department?

Lisa: It is all about communication and continual improvement. Over the last five years, we have learned that it is important to be flexible. What is working for us today would not have worked for us yesterday. We also understand that what is working for us now will probably not work for us tomorrow. As a team, we re-evaluate our processes periodically to make sure we are working at peak efficiency make sure we are working at peak efficiency.

Susan: Are you evaluating and resolving disputes early and effectively?

Lisa: Evaluating and resolving disputes early is critical to business success. We have made tremendous strides in this area by working to strengthen internal grievance processes. When you have an efficient process for resolving disputes and you implement that process timely and with fidelity, it makes all the difference in the world.

Susan: How are you enhancing your compliance function?

Lisa: Compliance isn’t only about preventing problems and ensuring that everyone is abiding by laws, policies, and procedures. It’s also about creating a robust and ethical compliance program.

When there is a failure in governance, it is the legal department with whom the leadership works to find strategies for avoiding issues in the future. We stand ready as a legal team to help develop strategies to avoid further issues.

Susan: What is outside counsel doing to identify global providers to offer support in local jurisdictions?

Lisa: We are fortunate to work with a law firm that is a member of various national organizations. It is because of its memberships with these organizations, I am confident that our company has access to the best providers for the best value through our outside counsel.

Susan: How are you growing and developing your team?

Lisa: Employee development is so important for company success, team success, and individual success. Developing employees is a strategic way to grow organization, improve productivity, and retain talented employees.

As a legal team, we prioritize professional development. We support team members in their efforts to make connections and build networks. We provide team members with challenging (but not impossible) work assignments. Last, but certainly not least, we trust each other until we have reason to not trust.

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