I began my career in Big Law as a litigator and government enforcement defense attorney representing financial institutions and a variety of other Fortune 500 clients. I was trained in the technical practice of law by some excellent lawyers, and – with the charitable benefit of hindsight – developed the grit necessary for a career in law. That said, Big Law wasn’t for me, although I didn’t fully understand the “why” until I embarked on a long career as an in-house attorney in a Fortune 50 financial services company. There I was able to develop into a true corporate generalist, with many roles over the years. I served as the Chief Legal Officer for all corporate functions – corporate governance, securities, M&A, contracts, technology transactions, and employment – and later, for all of the bank’s highly regulated consumer business lines. And as Chief Deputy of the 1000+ member legal department, I was privileged to lead large-scale transformation initiatives and oversee finance and operations functions, including resource and budget planning for the department. In-house work played to my strengths: I loved learning everything I could about the multiple businesses in a large company and the mechanics of the corporate engine that ran those businesses. I loved developing relationships with a broad multi-disciplinary group of really smart partners and stakeholders with differing strengths, skills, and perspectives, and collaborating with those teams to develop business solutions to complex problems. And in doing so I developed my strongly held (and yes, perhaps biased) belief that a talented, well-functioning, and T-shaped in-house legal department with the stature and resources to operate on all cylinders is one of the most valuable functions in any company.
That said, in-house legal departments face challenges. First and foremost, they are incredibly busy addressing the daily onslaught of incoming crises, urgent matters, and unguided missiles heading their way. And being viewed as a cost center, they are often under-resourced in the people, processes, technology that could increase their efficiency and effectiveness. Indeed, due to outdated precedent or lack of skills in other parts of a company, in-house legal departments may even be doing work that could more efficiently be completed elsewhere. They may have the desire, but not the bandwidth, to transform their function. And once they embark on such initiatives, they must carefully balance the interests of multiple stakeholders, manage through internal company dynamics, and ensure the continued development and wellbeing of the legal team.
For all these reasons, I have become a champion of in-house legal, and have a passion for providing advice, support, and services to legal departments in order to enable their GC, leadership team, attorneys, and other professionals to work at the top of their game, and be the valued trusted advisors to their companies that they can and should be. Wouldn’t it be great if by doing so, we made in-house work even more awesome and the profession more diverse and inclusive? (Big dreams, I have.) But all that starts with truly listening to an in-house customer’s needs and pain points and collaborating with them to develop solutions that not only address those issues in their individual context but that also effectively balance competing stakeholder interests and provide the advocacy and “wins” for the legal department team necessary to demonstrate their value (and need for ongoing investment) in the broader company.
So why did I join ElevateNext and Elevate Services? Simply put, because they both get it, and do it. I know that my experience provides the much needed “voice of the customer” angle to make sure that the solutions we bring to the table truly hit the mark. And because at Elevate, every conversation begins with the right question: “What does the customer need?”
Heidi is a Partner at ElevateNext Law who leverages a customer-centered blend of business and culture acumen, intellectual curiosity, and multi-disciplinary collaboration to develop practical and innovative business solutions to complex problems. As the former Chief Deputy of a 1000+ member Fortune 50 legal department, Heidi has substantial experience in large-scale legal department management and legal services delivery transformation in highly regulated businesses. Throughout her 15+ year in-house career, Heidi led legal teams supporting all corporate functions – including corporate governance, securities, M&A, contracts, technology transactions, and employment – as well as litigation, and multiple financial services business lines. In addition, she led the representation of the company in numerous high-profile matters, including substantial government enforcement actions and resolutions. Heidi also oversaw legal department finance and operations functions and led resource and budget planning for the department.
Heidi began her career at an AmLaw 10 firm as a litigator and government enforcement defense attorney representing financial institutions and a variety of other Fortune 500 clients across industries.
Heidi received her J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center and B.S., with distinction, from Iowa State University.
- Avid runner, hiker, and Lindsey Vonn wannabe
- Traveler on and off the beaten path
- Big fan of the Midwest – and the winters build character!
- Director, United Way of Central Iowa
- Director, One Economy Financial Development Corporation