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“The most important thing is to meet the dual objective of growth and compliance,” says Annie Lajeunesse about her role as an in-house legal advisor. “And when you’re in the risk management business, you have to build credibility with the clients. It’s absolutely necessary if they are to have a good understanding of what their legal risks are.”
Based in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec, Annie offers legal counsel on all aspects of commercial matters and issues, including both regulatory and internal compliance.
And it’s her affinity for managing teams on legal process improvement projects that makes her an artful and resourceful lawyer. As a big believer in data-driven decisions, Annie is exceptionally skilled at identifying what businesses need to focus on in identifying new strategies for legal efficiency, then mapping and implementing processes to support them. But she insists that data analysis can only go so far. It has to go hand in hand with insights into the people who are impacted by the changes.
“I’ve always loved working in teams that like to challenge the status quo and look for the opportunity to innovate,” she says. “But solutions have to work for the people involved.”
Away from the office, you’ll most likely find Annie playing tennis, cycling and running with her dog, or better yet spending time with her family and friends. “I know it sounds ‘cliché,’ but it’s what I enjoy the most,” she says.
After graduating in law from Université de Montréal, Annie went into practice first as a Crown prosecutor in Montreal, then later made the switch to become an in-house lawyer at a private holding company. In 2002, she took up a legal position at GE Capital working on structured financing solutions. There, she developed management expertise, oversaw a team of lawyers working in operations and served as a legal audit leader. In 2012, she then moved Laurentian Bank of Canada, where she helped build a new equipment financing division, LBC Capital as VP, Legal and Compliance. Now, as Senior Legal Counsel at Simplex Legal based in the Montreal area, Annie brings her tireless energy and skills to help design new legal services for the firm’s clients.
The first thing they need to do is identify the main risks related to the business. Then find advisors who understand your industry and your reality. That’s where you’re going to get real value. They can help you set up a process for recurring requests, so that you can avoid reinventing the wheel each time in handling your legal issues. Then, as much as possible, you should make an effort to delegate or automate all the repetitive tasks, which doesn’t stop you from calling up your trusted advisor – ideally someone who know the business – when an issue arises. I also think is important for legal to develop an approach to managing expectations, which is a lot about communicating, but then sticking to establish service deadlines.
There are a number of factors to think about, beginning with the high cost of legal fees. It’s also important to look at possible improvements that can be made in reducing delays. Can we identify repetitive tasks and work stages? How many parties are involved? Are there any recurring patterns in the types of demands we’re getting?
Legal information is so much more accessible online than it used to be, and that has an impact on the way they are delivered. The legal community must adapt. We have to find a middle ground between the “one-size fits all” solutions you find online and the hourly legal advice that’s typical of external law firms where the lawyer working the file charges fees that are disproportionate with respect to what’s at stake. I believe that “legal process improvement” will allow us to reinvent legal services so that we can really match them to the client ‘s needs and cost expectations.
I really enjoy playing tennis, cycling and running with my dog but of course, what I like the most is spending time with my family and friends.
Being part of a new business division within a financial institution collaborating with various stakeholders while striking the right balance between growth and compliance.
I wanted to take on a new challenge and bring the Simplex way of providing legal services to commercial customers and entrepreneurs.
Ease of doing business without compromising the high level of expertise.
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