GC Fireside

TechGC chats with Shana Simmons, General Counsel at Everlaw

Shana Simmons
April 27, 2022

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

I’m the General Counsel at Everlaw, which is the first cloud-native, most advanced e-discovery software. We enable our customers to simplify complex legal work.

Everlaw recruited me from my role at Google supporting Google Cloud. I was really happy at Google, but AJ (our CEO) and the Board did an outstanding job demonstrating the huge impact Everlaw has on customers, the company’s growth potential, and highlighting the opportunity to build the legal foundation to support Everlaw as it scales.   

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

 What’s interesting about legal tech is that our customers are lawyers, and we tend to be incredibly risk averse. The core challenges that legal tech faces stem from the risks that we face, whether in rapidly changing laws and regulations (like in the field of privacy) or in cyber security threats that are high on the list of the current administration. It’s on us to have the deepest possible level of understanding of those risks and mitigate them without shutting down the business. 

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

I’m the executive responsible for leading the Legal Department and for assuring that the company grows and scales in a way that takes into account all the obligations and risks that face enterprises. We can never eliminate risks, but it’s our job to find creative and effective ways to mitigate risks daily.

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

I aim to grow both personally and professionally every day, and something I’ve noticed recently with my growth is that my focus has broadened so I’m not just thinking about my own growth but also about the growth of the people around me, especially my team. I want to make sure that my team is thriving and growing, that we’re working alongside interesting people, and that we’re solving the right problems at the right time. 

My legal department and I are laser focused on being partners to the business, and in this capacity, I have the opportunity to advise on GTM strategy and on the company’s operations, generally. Because I have the right balance for me at the moment, I don’t see a need to transition to a non-legal role, but I’m always looking for personal and professional growth, so never say never! 

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

 On a practical level, I recommend saying yes to every assignment you can get to supplement the deep knowledge you have of your practice area (which is table stakes) with a broad understanding of what’s going on around you and how you fit into the big picture. This is in part because this will enable you to demonstrate business and legal acumen when doing your job and in part because it’s critical to get out of your comfort zone and grow 

When it comes to getting hired and impressing executive teams – it’s critical that women of color not look for external affirmation or wait for their bosses to recognize you. Know your worth, understand your personal compass, so that when you are undervalued, you are willing to leave and find a place that recognizes your business and legal acumen and values you. When an employer undervalues you, do not conform, do not change everything about yourself to fit in – leave. To be able to do this, you have to keep in regular contact with recruiters, feed and water your network, and do market research, but do not leave your career development in the hands of people who expect you to be something or someone that you are not.

Shana Simmons
Shana Simmons is the General Counsel (GC) at Everlaw. In this role, Shana leads the legal department and is responsible for all legal, regulatory, privacy and governance, risk and compliance issues across the company. As a GC, Shana also partners with the Executive Leadership team and Board to scale the business and revenue. Previously, Shana was Head of Google’s Cloud Go-To-Market Legal team, where she worked with internal and external stakeholders to guide the company’s cloud growth and success in new markets around the world, including in the U.S, Canada, and many other countries around the globe. Shana started her legal practice as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Stein & Hamilton LLP in New York and London. She received a JD from the Berkeley School of Law where she served on the managing boards of the California Law Review and Berkeley Journal of African American Law & Policy, in addition to being Co-President of Law Students of African Descent. She earned her BA with honors from Wesleyan University where she recently served as a trustee.