Tell us about your background as a General Counsel and current career status…

I am currently the General Counsel and company secretary at KUDO. KUDO is a SaaS company that delivers simultaneous interpretation services with a core mission of breaking language barriers. I was looking for a mission-driven multi-cultural company on a growth trajectory and found KUDO by chance.

How does your industry help define your role as General Counsel?

Tech companies dealing with international clients and a dispersed workforce face legal issues that evolve every day, be it privacy, data protection, sanctions, IP, commercial and employment regulations. The recent global pandemic and geo-political conflicts have really exacerbated these legal challenges so you need to stay on top of these issues as the landscape evolves.

How do you feel the General Counsel should act as a business partner?

KUDO is a US company but we serve global clients and we have team members in different countries. With a French dad, a Serbian mom, a Greek husband and American kids, Global is in my DNA and I have practiced in three different jurisdictions, so it’s been a perfect cultural fit for me.

As a legal leader, we get to influence and support the company’s growth. We get to problem solve in the most pragmatic way and that sometimes means redirecting the team on a slightly modified path that still gets them to where they want to go. Being approachable and practical helps. You want to create an environment that values and respects the legal function and I am fortunate to be at a company that does that.

How do you see the professional growth trajectory as a General Counsel?

I am curious and always want to continue learning. Sometimes that means you need to unlearn and relearn certain things. I try to learn through every human interaction I have, internal or external, on every project.

A few months after I joined, the CEO asked me to oversee the People Operations (HR) function. There are a lot of commonalities between the legal and HR functions but I really had to expand into a non-legal territory, which has been an exciting challenge. As part of the executive team, I also get to weigh in on strategic business matters.

What is the best advice you can give for In-House Counsel?

Be an attentive and active listener. Legal is a support/enabling function and before you can become a trusted partner, you need to have earned that trust. As a lawyer, whether it’s inhouse or as outside counsel, you get brought in to solve a business issue. Make sure you understand the underlying business before you provide your legal advice. But also recognize that things move fast, especially in a start-up, so get comfortable with the idea of providing feedback under pressure with imperfect or incomplete information!

Soft skills get ignored but they are so important: kindness (which is wrongly perceived as a weakness by many), integrity, respect, humility and empathy go a long way in what we do.

Approach people you admire in the field and get them to share with you what made them successful, what keeps them motivated, building your own network is a huge asset.

Finally, get out of your comfort zone, even if that means you will need to show some vulnerability along the way, the reward is huge!

About Caroline Paranikas

Caroline Paranikas is General Counsel with KUDO Inc., a SaaS provider of simultaneous interpretation services. Previously, she was Associate General Counsel and Chief M&A Counsel at JLL, a professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Caroline also has over 10 years’ experience in private practice handling corporate, private equity and asset finance matters.