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

Currently, I am General Counsel for Symend, a software company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  At Symend, we work with enterprise clients to turn everyday moments and difficult conversations they may be having with their customers into positive experiences across the entire customer journey.  With Symend’s behavioral engagement platform, every digital interaction helps build stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.  In short, we help our clients turn risks into opportunities. 

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

While optimizing customer engagement is not anything new, I feel the use of technologies, analytics, and behavioral science to gain deeper insights into customer behaviors is quite new.  It intersects with the legal world greatly since from a legal point of view, lawyers usually confront a breach of obligations on the part of the other party with notices of defaults, demand letters, or worse.  I know they say justice is blind, but that should really be more reserved for the judges when rendering judgments.  At all levels prior to that, we need more compassion which requires an empathetic vision of the other party undergoing hardships.  

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

Legal is unique in many respects and I can go on in depth about this.  If I were to choose one, it would be that because legal is (or should be) working with every department in the organization, they have a greater view than most as to what is happening. A good General Counsel should have their pulse on various matters within the company at all times. As a result, I perceive legal’s impact on business growth and corporate culture as actually an enabler.  Contrary to popular opinion, lawyers are not funbusters!  Sure, from time to time (okay, A LOT of the time), we prognosticate or portend troubles ahead.  But really, I would argue that this is for the purpose of identifying obstacles that can hinder or prevent the fun, so we may then work collaboratively with others to knock them down (or mitigate as best we can) so everyone can have that fun without worries 😊 So in other words, every organization should be hiring more lawyers!  But hey, I may be just slightly biased here 🙂

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

I love being a lawyer and I don’t see that going away any time soon.  For me, growth is about never stop learning.  And in the world of law, there is so much to learn.  So much so that it can be a little overwhelming.  I try to stick to the principles espoused in The Law of the Horse.  Learn general rules and principles so you are better prepared to apply them in an ever-changing world.  

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

There’s really no short cut to any of this.  You have to put in the work on many, many levels for both hard and “soft” skills.  I think many people have this illusion that if you work in-house, it somehow means it’s easier or that you have more free time.  I would say that’s completely false.   Rather, what changes are your role, the expectations thrusted upon you, and how you have to adapt continuously based on the current milieu of the organization.  Earlier, I spoke about being the pulse of the organization and that remains very true.  So be a business enabler by focusing on things such as building key relationships, understanding the intricacies of the business, and figuring out KPIs of others and how you can support that.  Lastly, forego the ego.   It’s not a contest of who is better than you.  When you drop the ego, you realize that everybody is actually on the same side striving towards a unified goal.

About Ron Lo

Ron Lo is a technology and privacy lawyer with extensive firm and in-house experience in software licensing and intellectual property. He is currently General Counsel at Symend, which was named as one of Canada’s fastest growing startups by LinkedIn, and a director at Canadian Technology Law Association where he chairs the Digital Identity committee. Ron has been recognized and nominated for Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in 2021 (In-House Category) by Canadian Lawyer magazine. In his spare time, Ron likes to play zookeeper with his two sons and learn about magic internet money.