Corporate Counsel

Success is No Accident

CCBJ: Let’s start with what led you to your current role.

Kim Drake-Loy: First and foremost, success is no accident. Hard work, making good networking connections, and developing relationships have been the drivers of my career opportunities. With my current position, I received a call from a former colleague who told me about a general counsel opportunity at Shermco and asked if I was interested. I told him I was.

At that time, I had been in the mortgage finance real estate world, in some form or fashion, my entire career and it was time to move on to something different. The mortgage career path can be challenging with its peaks and valleys and heavy dependence on interest rates and the broader economy. I was excited about the prospect of working in an industry that was intertwined with other industries and had a stable client base. In hindsight, the timing of my career move in 2019 could not have been better orchestrated. Once Covid developed in March 2020, the mortgage industry was besieged with more instability due to the downward economy and foreclosure moratoriums. I remain thankful that I made the leap to work in an industry that had stability during the years of Covid.

What was it like transitioning from a non-industrial to an industrial practice?

Working in the mortgage industry for all those years, I not only developed subject matter expertise but also valuable transferable skills. A contract’s a contract, a lawsuit’s a lawsuit, an insurance claim is an insurance claim. However, use of those transferable skills from a non-industrial to industrial practice has required an entirely different approach and mindset when working through contracts, claims, etc. Industrial based businesses have very distinct risk profiles. This is because the lives of your operations’ staff are at the other end of the decisions made given the type of work performed.

What changes would you like to see in the legal profession?

Attorneys need to be taught how to interact and convey messages in a business context. Law school curriculum and law firms need to become more “real-world” business centric. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a treatise in response to a question that can be answered in a few sentences. Not everything can be answered with a yes or no, but generally issues can be explained succinctly. Also, business environments tend to move much faster than what attorneys are trained to expect. Legal issues can develop suddenly, and they need to be resolved with the same sense of urgency that the business partners/clients have. It is imperative to work with your business partners/clients and learn what the business risks and priorities are to resolve matters expeditiously. Successful attorneys understand these risk profiles and adapt their work to them. There is enormous value to ensure attorneys are trained to effectively communicate and operate within the demands of fast-paced business environments.

You have significant experience with mergers and acquisitions. Can you talk about M&A and investment opportunities in your field?

Our business is growing and with growth comes a need for more workers and a broader geographic footprint. Finding workers with certain skills and abilities can be challenging, as well as entering new geographies. Identifying solutions for these needs likely will involve M&A activity. Ultimately, it can be more expedient to acquire a workforce with the skills sets and the geographic location you need versus pursuing organic growth opportunities.

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