This short Q&A was featured in our June edition of the DisruptiveTech newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletter regularly, please click here.

Kolvin Stone, partner and head of technology, Fox Williams, spoke with Andrew Cooke, General Counsel at Fnatic.

Q1. What advice would 2021 Andy give to 2016 Andy?

If you start addressing your work life balance now, in five years time you might actually have cracked it.

Q2. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?

Changing minds around what my colleagues think a legal function is for (making contracts more quickly and cheaply than external counsel) versus what it is actually for (spotting icebergs and navigating the ship away from them).  Fundamentally, I’ve sought to show rather than tell; but I’ve also benefited from a supportive boss.

Q3. What’s the most helpful piece of advice you have received as a GC?

You do your best work when you’re happy.  We actively track team happiness. Engagement and a sense of mission are vital in chaotic, fast growth environments.

Q4. How do you see the role of the inhouse lawyer evolving with the ever increasing use of legal technology and process management tools?

In my experience, the in-house and private practice skillsets are already highly distinct; in-house is so much more management, process and outcome oriented. Effective in-house functions will continue to evolve in this direction; ineffective in-house functions will find themselves overwhelmed by customer expectations.

Q5. What are your predictions for DisruptiveTech / eSports* in 2021?

We’ll see more sophistication in the esports business model.  Several teams were operating under the assumption that increased viewership would lead automatically to increased revenue. COVID disproved that assumption, which meant changes in strategy which will play out in the medium term.

Q6. What is the most helpful lesson you’ve learnt in the journey from early stage to a more mature business and how did your role change?

My understanding of what I’m here to do hasn’t changed. I think legal teams should have a clear mission and vision in mind, suitably aligned with overall company strategy. So I’ve been aiming at a goal state from day 1.

Q7. What attracted you to the fast growth DisruptiveTech / eSports* ecosystem?

I was (and am) confident that I can add value to a growing business. 

Q8. What advice do you have for lawyers who want to succeed in this industry?

Have confidence in your value. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, make a change.

Q9. Any recommendations for reading, watching, joining or attending for the inhouse lawyer at a fast growth tech company?

Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”.  We carry perspectives on what makes us successful that might actually impede our progress. I think it’s good to understand when you’re succeeding because of what you do, rather than in spite of what you do.

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