Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law The Journal: Litigation (PLJ) recently spoke to Linda Lu, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at TransUnion, one of the country’s major consumer credit reporting agencies, about the scope of the company’s litigation portfolio, matters for which they turn to outside counsel, and what lawyers can do to add value.
PLJ: What is the total number of attorneys in the company worldwide, and how many focus on litigation? And where does litigation fall within the organizational structure?
Lu: TransUnion’s Legal & Compliance department has approximately 200 associates. Twenty-five associates manage the litigation portfolio. And as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Litigation Enforcement & Strategy, I directly report to the Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer.
PLJ: How typical or unique is the scope of responsibilities for the company’s litigation attorneys?
Lu: The litigation portfolio includes a high volume of individual lawsuits, numerous class actions, several large corporate and commercial lawsuits, and government enforcement matters. Only a handful are non-U.S. matters.
PLJ: What is keeping your company’s litigation attorneys the busiest at the moment?
Lu: In addition to proactively managing the high volume of individual lawsuits, our litigation attorneys must effectively manage increased scrutiny and legal risk as TransUnion expands into new markets, offers additional products and services, and grows in size and geography.
PLJ: Have any recent legal developments changed the way your department operates?
Lu: We must navigate increased data privacy regulations and the changing class action landscape, including constant challenges to damages. Most recently, COVID-19 has been a basis for increased litigation filings and government inquiries as well.
Additionally, there is a greater need for all companies to be operationally streamlined. As head of legal strategy, I am building a legal operations team to better use processes and technology to gain efficiencies and reporting metrics. We helped work to make sure the legal department appropriately addressed the effects of COVID-19 to our offices, operations, and associates. Like other companies, the pandemic really tested our ability to manage a crisis and highlighted opportunities for process improvements and adoptions of technology.
PLJ: What types of issues will cause you to turn to outside counsel?
Lu: We turn to outside counsel when we need jurisdiction-specific guidance in light of TransUnion’s growing geographic footprint, specific experience with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other issues important to our industry, additional data privacy and data security expertise, and assistance with matters involving increased government scrutiny. We also seek law firms with advanced artificial intelligence and technology resources that can help us be more efficient and effective.
Read the full interview in the Fall 2020 issue of Practical Law The Journal: Litigation
PLJ: What three things does a law firm need to do to impress you?
Lu: Partnerships are with lawyers, not law firms. To impress me, a lawyer should:
- Provide practical legal and business-oriented advice.
- Be a trusted advisor who my company and I can rely on to have our backs and who makes my life easier (including by appreciating how my success is measured and the limits of my time and resources).
- Communicate articulately and succinctly.
PLJ: What is the best career advice you ever received?
Lu: Develop a career path, be open to new opportunities, and take risks.
PLJ: What is one mistake you made early on in your legal career and what did you learn from that experience?
Lu: I did not appreciate the unwritten rules and politics of the work environment and believed I could change workplace culture by myself. Ultimately, I learned that improving an organization’s culture must be championed by leadership or others with influence.
PLJ: If not an attorney, what would you wish to be?
Lu: A superhero like Wonder Woman.
PLJ: What advice would you give to prospective in-house litigation counsel?
Lu: Unlike a law firm attorney who can concentrate on one legal matter for an entire day, in-house litigation counsel may have five to ten different issues they need to manage daily with an eye towards providing business-oriented solutions. Therefore, the ability to synthesize information quickly, take a business-focused approach to resolving challenges, and communicate effectively are essential for success.