We continue our monthly feature, Upfront & Personal, a column created by Rose Ors that brings “the person behind the title” to the forefront in interviews with some of the most influential members of the legal community.
Lindsey Haswell, General Counsel and Head of Communications of the vehicle-sharing company Lime, spoke with Ms. Ors, the CEO and Founder of ClientSmart, about the transportation revolution, rethinking cities, and the significance of being a mother.
Rose Ors: What have been the most significant moments in your career?
Lindsey Haswell: The first significant moment was graduating from law school. The experience made me feel confident that there was nothing I could not analyze and understand. While law school did not specifically prepare me to be a business advisor, it did teach me how to think critically. It also helped me develop the ability to see multiple sides of an argument and consider others’ viewpoints — both important skills in business.
Leaving law firm life in 2014 to become the first litigator hired by Über was my next significant career moment. Joining Über when it was a young, growing company gave me the chance to build a litigation team and have an impact. It was at Über that I realized that I am someone who enjoys wearing different hats at work. I enjoy the diversity of issues — some not purely legal — that I handled there and now at Lime.
As both general counsel and head of communications at Lime, each of my roles has overlaps, but many of the issues are distinct. I enjoy the dual role, and it’s one that would be difficult to find in a large, mature company.
Rose Ors: Is that what lured you to Lime?
Lindsey Haswell: Part of what drew me to Lime is that as a younger company, it was such wet clay for me to mold in a positive way. Equally important, Lime provides me the opportunity to build on the mobility revolution Über started.
Now, at Lime we want to help make cities more about people and less about cars. Today, the Lime app can help you find bikes and scooters near you that will get you where you want to go in half the time, at half the cost, and with a tiny fraction of the pollution.
Rose Ors: It sounds like sustainability is something that greatly matters to you.
Lindsey Haswell: Building a better world through transportation is something I am passionate about. I have a real interest in the value that cities can bring people with innovative policies and effective infrastructure. If you look at Lime’s growth in Europe it is because many of the cities there are built to be more for people than for cars. I hope that one of the positive things that emerges from the COVID-19 crisis is a committed interest in rethinking how cities can be reorganized to focus on people.
Rose Ors: Is there a city that could serve as a model?
Lindsey Haswell: Paris. Mayor Anne Hidalgo is working on making it possible for people to get to where they need to go in the city within 15 minutes and not have to do so in a car. One way she is making the goal a reality is by adding bike and scooter lanes. Her big goal is to have no cars in central Paris by 2030.
Rose Ors: What are some of your other interests?
Lindsey Haswell: Travel is also important to me. I have many fond childhood memories of traveling with my parents and seeing the world through the eyes of people from a different culture. I love getting outside myself and getting outside the U.S. Having the opportunity to travel for business is one of the reasons I will always be interested in working for a company with a global footprint.
But my overwhelming passion is raising my two sons, ages five and three. There is nothing more significant for me than being their mother. The incredible responsibility I feel to raise them to be good men is matched only by the joy they bring me. Now that I work from home, they lighten my workday by bringing me little gifts made out of Play-doh or whatever they are playing with.
Rose Ors: If you could be a fly on the wall, what conversation would you have wanted to hear?
Lindsey Haswell: I would love to know what Hillary Clinton talked about with her husband and her staff when she decided to concede to Donald Trump. It had to be an excruciatingly painful moment.
When she conceded the loss, I was standing with 300 women, all of us in white suits, ready to celebrate her coronation. It was a rough night.
Rose Ors: How has the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown impacted the teams you lead?
Lindsey Haswell: Lime is in 125 different locations around the world. Our legal department is spread over seven locations and our communications team is spread over 10 locations. So, while it is novel for many companies and teams to meet virtually, for us it is the norm. We are comfortable seeing each other on a screen.
However, the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown have affected all of us on a very personal level. It’s a stressful time for many reasons. So, to combat stress and isolation we start all of our meetings with a moment of gratitude. This simple act settles everyone and provides comfort. In our weekly meeting, we have also added “shout outs” where we thank those who have been particularly helpful to the team. We also gather for the sole purpose of having fun and checking in on a more personal level.
Rose Ors: What are some ways the legal department is helping Lime navigate these times?
Lindsey Haswell: While the crisis has presented many challenges, it also has provided the legal department with the chance to make a true financial contribution to the company. Identifying the stimulus programs Lime qualifies for and obtaining tariff refunds on the scooters we import will bring in millions of dollars. It is satisfying to contribute in such a concrete way.
Rose Ors: Aside from legal acumen, how can outside law firms add value?
Lindsey Haswell: The biggest mistake I see law firms make is exhaustively listing the possible, rather than focusing on the probable. In business, we often have to make trade-offs and our choices are a function of what is available to us. My advice to firms is to eliminate the long memos and, instead, tell me about the risks that have a greater than 50% probability of occurring.
I would also advise law firms to understand their clients’ products and services. I will never forget when at Über one of our outside lawyers described our app during an important oral argument in federal court. Her description was wrong and clearly showed she had never used the app. This is the kind of mistake that is inexcusable.