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13. October 2020
People @ Personio – Matthias Leister, Senior Legal Counsel / Teamlead Legal
What is your responsibility as Senior Legal Counsel / Teamlead Legal at Personio?
As the title implies, there are two parts to it. One part is about ensuring compliance with all major regulations and giving advice to teams and stakeholders regarding their daily legal questions. And the second part is related to building a team and its processes, to help us grow into a full-fledged, modern legal department. As legal counsel, you need to be able to cover a broad spectrum while maintaining the balance and the ability to go into the specifics and details, as required. Legal areas include anything from “Arbeitsrecht/labor law” to “Zoom Licenses”.
What is the most memorable experience you have been part of while working at Personio?
On a personal note, there are quite a few, as the culture and the people here are unique and I genuinely enjoy working with all these bright and talented people every day, so I could tell you more than one memorable experience.
Working at Personio leads to the ongoing opportunity to interact with a wide range of different ideas and backgrounds, which I'm convinced has a positive impact on our legal work.
From a professional standpoint, corporate law and M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) will always have a special place in my “legal heart”. Therefore I would definitely say that my involvement in our Series B/C funding rounds and my participation in the merger and acquisition of a Spanish company that is now part of Personio are definitely on the top of my memorable experiences list so far.
Next to those experiences I also remember one or two great negotiations with our customers. Negotiations are always about finding the balance, and I am particularly happy when we are able to help our customers on the one hand, and we are also able to explain and maintain our processes on the other hand.
Let’s talk about financing rounds, what is the most challenging part about it?
There are quite a few challenges. On one side, you have teams of expert lawyers reviewing all the contracts that you drafted in the course of the year (due diligence), which is a bit stressful and can feel like going to the dentist.
On the other side, you need to coordinate a lot of requests and deadlines to make sure that all stakeholders are aligned.
Lastly, you also need to attend a lot of meetings and coordinate with our external expert lawyers on wording and consequence of contract terms.
Which steps did you follow to set it up?
A financing round is always a team effort and not the result of one individual contributor. So step one is working with great people.
Then you start by creating a digital data room. This is basically just a typical folder structure in which you add all the relevant legal documents to be reviewed. After the review process, then you start the calls to discuss and clarify any “findings” with the lawyers of the potential investors.
You then facilitate meetings and calls in regards to legal documents such as the shareholder agreements or the investment agreements. You review and redline those documents and maintain the communication with the external lawyers, the management team, and the potential investors.
Lastly, somebody from Personio goes to the notary and has to listen to the entire contract being read out aloud and then finally signed.
What are the upcoming exciting things at Personio that you are looking forward to being a part of?
Building and scaling the department with great people to achieve true business partnering. It’s our goal to be proactive, quick to respond, and do our best to enable the great work and ideas of our colleagues.
Of course, a legal department sometimes needs to act as an anchor and we might not always be able to sign off on everything but in my experience it’s more fun and a greater challenge to find solutions rather than being a blocker.
As you may have noticed we had a lot of things to take care of. Would you like to put your hands on these challenges?
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