Member in the Spotlight allows us to get up-close and personal with some of our ACC Australia members. This week we are shining the spotlight on Marina Yastreboff, Senior Lawyer, University of New South Wales, President of the Australasian Society for Computers & Law, member of the Legal Technology and Innovation and Pro Bono Special Interest Groups and winner of the 'Not-for-Profit Lawyer of the Year' at the 2021 ACC Australia Corporate Lawyer Awards.
Tell us about your current role.
I am a senior lawyer specialising in IP and technology at the University of New South Wales, the other hat I wear is as the President of the Australasian Society for Computers & Law.
What do you believe is the most important skill(s) an in-house lawyer needs?
The ability to project manage, be curious and collaborate across disciplines. Collaboration provides incredibly important feedback from stakeholders and in my experience, helps to better define “the problem we are trying to solve”, making it much easier to find a workable and commercial ‘solution’. While true collaboration can be very powerful I think it only achievable in an environment of trust and inclusion.
What led you to pursue an in-house legal role?
I greatly enjoy the breadth, variety, and complexity of work in-house. I also enjoy being closer to where decisions are made.
What advice would you offer to in-house counsel in building relationships with their organisations
Look for patterns across the organisation, as these often highlight opportunities to share ‘lessons’ across divisions. I think another important tip is to be on the look out for ways to improve processes and your client’s ‘pain points’. It could be as simple as improving the matter intake process, or using the 0365 suite (by favourite combination being: Forms, Power Automate, Outlook + SharePoint) to automate the management of relatively simple or routine tasks, such as the generation of standard form contracts or competition terms and conditions.
What is the one thing a law degree doesn’t teach you about being an in-house lawyer?
Not everyone sees the law the way lawyers do, for example, as something that effects nearly everything. Part of the solution, I think, is being able to communicate complex legal concepts in ‘commercial speak’ (while not losing the essential meaning). Being able to show how legal or compliance risk translate to financial, operational, or reputational risk has been invaluable to achieving early buy in, otherwise legal and compliance may easily fall into the too hard basket, be stashed away in the bottom draw of a filing cabinet, or simply be reduced down to a tick the box exercise.
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed across the legal sector since you joined the profession?
Digital disruption and the pace and sheer volume of new laws being introduced across the board.
Finish this sentence… If I wasn’t a lawyer I’d be…
An educator. There is nothing more enjoyable than being in a community of scholars and students discussing grand challenges, how, why and why not.
I like being a part of the ACC Australia community because…
It is a dynamic community of in-house lawyers [who are] there for each other, and always looking to play their best game to better serve their clients and their ultimate mission.