General Counsel Q&A: The Law Department Should Engage with Business Colleagues to Understand their Objectives, Says Anna-Lisa Corrales of Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC

Topics: Client Relations, Corporate Legal, Efficiency, General Counsel, Practical Law, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts

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Anna-Lisa Corrales, General Counsel of Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC, recently spoke with Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business (PLJ) about the law department’s top goals and the best career advice she has ever received.

PLJ: How is the legal function structured?

Corrales: We have four attorneys and three paralegals, each of whom has areas of focus, but we flexibly collaborate. Reporting directly to me are a Deputy General Counsel (who specializes in consumer warranty litigation, franchise law, retail operations support, and other advice matters), a Senior Corporate Counsel (who handles intellectual property matters, advertising and marketing law, privacy issues, sponsorship and event-related agreements, and other commercial agreements), a Product Analysis Manager (who focuses on technical and engineering aspects of managing our product liability and related cases), and a paralegal (who is involved in legal operations, litigation support, and reporting).

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Anna-Lisa Corrales, General Counsel of Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC

Reporting to the Deputy General Counsel are a Corporate Counsel (who handles employment law matters) and a paralegal (who supports consumer warranty and product liability matters). Our paralegal who supports advertising and marketing law and various licensing matters reports to our Senior Corporate Counsel. I focus on class actions, product liability matters, regulatory issues, commercial agreements, corporate governance, and “everything else.”

We utilize our small size to be nimble in the face of the multifaceted needs of the business locally and globally.

PLJ: What are the top goals or areas of focus for the law department? Are there any innovative ideas the law department has adopted to further its goals?

Corrales: One goal is to improve our use of technology to better measure our value and improve reporting and metrics. We recently implemented an innovative system for matter management and electronic billing that has already transformed our processes and ways of preserving and transferring knowledge within the law department. We aim to further develop how we use the system to manage our budget and deliver results, as well as improve reporting to the wider business.

PLJ: How does the law department avoid being perceived as the “office of no” while still ensuring it helps the client avoid liability?

Corrales: We pride ourselves on engaging closely with our business colleagues to understand their objectives and give them a range of options that will mitigate potential liability. We identify the risks in various contexts and provide the information they need to make calculated business judgments. Our role is not to be an “office of no,” but rather to explain when risks are heightened and what that means for the business.

PLJ: What are your favorite books?

Corrales: My all-time favorite books are Homer’s The Odyssey and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Both involve undertaking journeys of self-discovery, utilizing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately letting love win out over darkness.

PLJ: What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Corrales: Identify and be confident in your areas of expertise and talents, while also making a list of the practical skills you would like to develop further. That way, you can enjoy working within your strengths, but also know how to best invest in your own development. Also, constantly imagine yourself in the shoes of your boss(es), so that you remain empathetic to the pressures they face. Following this advice has helped me be more self-aware and continue growing.

Read the full interview in the December/January issue of Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business.

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