Diversity and inclusion are key criteria when selecting external counsel partners, says Silverberg
The success of Dell’s legal team is driven by diverse perspectives which allow them to provide a broader lens of advice and guidance to their in-house clients, according to Barbara Silverberg, head of legal at Dell Canada.
“We’ve been consistently held up as one of the most efficient and lean teams, supporting a very complex legal environment in Canada with different provincial legislation requirements, federal requirements and common law,” said Silverberg, who spoke during Canadian Lawyer’s recent Inside In-house Counsel series.
Agility was a key strength of the team throughout the ongoing pandemic crisis, allowing them to continue delivering real-time legal advice, and to work more efficiently and effectively than ever before, Silverberg said. She is also proud of her team’s focus on physical and mental health during pandemic lockdowns and remote work.
Silberberg and her team are preparing for new challenges in 2022, including adapting to a long-term hybrid work model, and ensuring that they maintain impact and influence with the business teams. They are also preparing for increased risks in cybersecurity and privacy.
“There hasn’t been a business that hasn’t either been hacked or is going to be hacked in the short-term, so we’re all going to be impacted, or our clients are going to be impacted by those threats,” said Silverberg.
Vaccine mandates and COVID-related issues will also continue to be top of mind this year as requirements evolve, Silverberg said.
“When booster shots become available, I’m not going to be totally surprised if some customers start making boosters a condition of access to their premises,” she said. “What are our appropriate conditions for hiring? What limitations are there going to be under applicable privacy laws that limit our ability to put in place certain requirements? I’m pretty sure 2022 is going to come with no shortage of new and interesting challenges for us.”
Silverberg considers a number of criteria when selecting external counsel partners. In addition to the standard requirements for good technical skills, responsiveness, and a strong understanding of the business, she also looks for diversity and inclusion among law firms. This includes examining hiring practices and internal metrics. Silverberg also tries to partner with law firms that are developing the pipeline by providing diverse law students with opportunities, and doing mentoring or training within the firm or in the broader community.
“We are looking for firms that are helping to build a more diverse legal professional pipeline because that’s going to be so critical for us,” said Silverberg. “We are increasingly focused on hiring outside counsel who are diverse or minorities, or women-run firms wherever we can.”