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

Two years ago I left the partnership at Cadwalader to become General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer of SAP National Security Services (SAP NS2), which was a client of mine. SAP NS2. SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software solutions. As an independent subsidiary, SAP NS2 provides industry-focused SAP products and services to the Defense Department, the Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies delivered by US persons on US soil. In this role, I advise the CEO, senior management, and the Board of Directors on all legal and compliance matters, and also have responsibility for managing the Contracts Department.

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

As a government contractor in the national security space, I need to be very attuned to the latest developments affecting the industry. There is a government relations aspect to this job that requires a degree of comfort dealing with policy issues. Thankfully, coming from DOJ and DOD and living a stone’s throw from Capitol Hill, I am in exactly the right place to make this happen.

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

Business cannot grow without the support of legal and contracts, and it is my team’s role to be available at all times with top quality advice and real-time turnaround. We work closely with the Sales Teams and company leadership to support our incredible national security customers, and that is a role I take very seriously. As far as corporate culture, SAP NS2 has been fantastic in embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and finding opportunities to recruit and promote diverse candidates. As the company’s chief legal advisor, it has been so great to help form our DEI program which I know makes SAP NS2 a stronger and better company.

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

I loved being a law firm partner, and now being in-house I can say that being at SAP NS2 is the greatest job I have ever had. I have added to my litigation and compliance law background a host of new skills, including corporate governance, contracts, labor law, intellectual property, and M&A. I also manage a team in a way that is very different from how a partner manages law firm associates. I can envision one way using my finance, project management, and government relations skills in more of an operational role, but for now there is no other job I would want than General Counsel.

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

If you want to be a trusted advisor, you need to balance being business friendly with a willingness to stand up in opposition. Early in my career I was told it was an attorney’s job to “figure out how to get to ‘yes’”. I respectfully disagree. There are times when “no” is the correct answer, and an attorney is not doing their job simply by serving as a rubber stamp. You must cultivate trust with business leadership and sometimes that means having an unpopular opinion.

Joseph Moreno

Joe is a former DOJ national security prosecutor, staffer to the FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission, and two-time US Army combat veteran. He frequently appears on BBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other news networks to discuss high-level government investigations and prosecutions, financial crimes, counterterrorism and other law enforcement matters. Joe has also testified before Congress on matters relating to money laundering and terrorist financing. Originally from New York, Joe now practices law in Washington DC and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and 9 children.