Jack Terschluse describes himself this way, “In-house counsel striving to make legal relatable and impactful to our people, culture, investors, bottom line, and the community that gives us a home to grow. Dynamic experience with SaaS contracting, data privacy / DPAs, commercial contracts, procurement, partnerships, company policies and procedures, equity management, board governance, and more. Always looking out for the legal landmines that startups face.”
Please tell me a little about your journey through the legal profession and how what you experienced and learned influenced your view of the profession and of being a lawyer.
I first practiced for two years at a big law firm in St. Louis. Those two years were heavily impacted by the pandemic since I was only in the office in person for six months before we started working from home. A notoriously change-resistant profession saw, overnight, that our jobs could be done from anywhere. And like many others at the time, I re-evaluated my life's direction. I wrote up a life plan and saw that I could fast-track my experience by pursuing experience as in-house counsel at a rapidly growing startup. It just so happened that my brother had interned at one a few summers ago and I had been occasionally chatting with the startup’s founder on LinkedIn since we went to the same undergrad. The rest is history as they say.
What's your opinion of technology and its increasing influence on the practice of law and the delivery of legal services?
The following anecdote should tell you everything.
When interviewing candidates for our recently filled legal tech role at Balto, I would say 9/10 candidates asked if we had contract lifecycle management (CLM) software. One candidate even said they were looking for a new role since their current company would not adopt a CLM.
Do you think law school prepared you to practice law? Why or why not?
Yes, but not in the sense that you can review a contract right out of law school. Law school teaches you how to be a judge or a judge's clerk, to take in lots of information and hem and haw for a while. Law school reminds me of a quote allegedly from Harry Truman: "Give me a one-handed Economist. All my economists say 'on one hand...', then 'but on the other... " Working in private practice or in-house requires quick decision making. But all is not lost...law school shows you just how much work, dedication, and sacrifice are needed to be successful and impactful. It also develops your soft skills since you get to know your classmates really well.
As a younger lawyer, do you think that younger law students and lawyers are more tech-savvy and why or why not?
Yes, just naturally so because we grew up with it. But this isn't an "Ok boomer" stance. Anyone of any age can be as tech-savvy as they want, particularly since a lot of SaaS platforms are low-touch and those platforms' customer success managers are very willing to lend a helping hand.
What's your take on the relationship between data analytics and the use of data in the practice of law and delivery of legal services?
You don't need data analytics to do your basic job as in-house counsel. However, if you want to thrive in the role, you have to embrace data analytics. Contracts tell the story of your business. Those attorneys who have contract lifecycle management (CLM) software can read that story much more quickly than attorneys who do not. With the push of a button, they can read reports showing the percentage of contracts with termination for convenience clauses or, in a crisis, know by what contractual deadline they must alert customers to a data breach. Similarly, data analytics actually helps in-house counsel pivot from cost-centers to profit centers. For instance, data analytics can show you which customer contracts are due for the automatic price increases and which vendor contracts you can renegotiate since they are up for renewal (or avoid triggering automatic renewal by giving notice).