Claire E. Bibby
Chief operating officer and general counsel
What are the most important transactions and litigations that you have been involved in during the last two years?
I am part of the Immediation senior executive team, together having designed and brought the concept of online dispute resolution to reality over the last two years. From setting up the business, to creating and launching the product, and securing global IP protections, Immediation has quickly penetrated the Australian and international market.
Critical to their early success was their engagement with the Australian and international general counsel market, who were brought along on the design journey. In collaboration with peers, myself and the Immediation team created a pilot client programme whereby general counsel ran mock disputes on the developing beta platform, up against other general counsel (some of whom were actual business partners). This strategy was deployed to ensure that the product brought to market was designed with the end-user in the forefront of the designers’ minds. This necessitated a combination of legal, commercial, innovation, and product design skills.
During the last 12 months, I have worked with a team of international Google alumni engineers to build and design not just a piece of technology, but rather, an entire ecosystem for dispute resolution to take place online, including the provision of all necessary agreements, institutional rules, and proforma settlement agreements.
Myself and my team also worked on raising external seed capital from a broking house, following significant due diligence. The ability to raise external capital pre-revenue was a significant market validation of the Immediation concept. The product was also vetted by the Australian Commonwealth Government, resulting in Immediation securing in March 2019 one of twelve national Accelerating Commercialisation Grants.
I am already working on the businesses international expansion, including developing vertical product offerings and international white labelling solutions.
What techniques do you use to provide commercially-focused and optimal business advice to your company?
As one of the founding investors and part of the executive team, I wear many hats. While it can be easy to get distracted by many different and sometimes competing interests, the focus always remains on executing the businesses strategic plan. In line with my role as chief operating officer, I’m also responsible for the ongoing business operations of the company. Working closely with the managing director, the board, and c-suite colleagues, I have been described by colleagues as the one who creates “order out of chaos”.
Can you describe the initiatives that you have spearheaded within your legal team or broader organisation, and how have these helped the business?
As the executive with primary responsibility for the 90 member Immediation panel, I have personally trained each of them on how to use Immediation, including former justices, Tribunal members, QCs/SCs, barristers, arbitrators, and mediators, as well as leading lawyers from top-tier and boutique specialist firms. When creating the panel, the executive team achieved their goal of a 40/40/20 balance concerning gender diversity (meaning 40% women, 40% men, and 20% of either gender). The panel members demonstrate adoption from leaders of the dispute resolution industry and set the scene for the business’ revenue journey.
Do you have any advice to give your peers looking to bring their legal departments closer to business colleagues?
An intimate knowledge of the business, and thereby your internal client’s strategy and deliverables, is critical to enable a general counsel to support the businesses goals and transactions. To effectively add value, you have to be agile and understand priorities, focussing on the high-value work so as to make a difference. Open dialogue, passion for what you do, professionalism, and delivery of high-quality service is the cornerstone of working as a capable team.
What are the most important considerations you have when recruiting new team members?
Valuing people for who they are and for their knowledge, skills, and experience. At Immediation, we foster an open and inclusive environment and treat each person fairly. We value enthusiasm, energy, and enjoyment. All team members must have a passion for our business’ goal, which is to improve access to justice through the use of technology. Our vision is to be a team that’s valued by its panel members, customers, and the broader community.
Do you use any “legal tech” products, and do you find them a helpful management device?
Over the last two years, we have taken a “legal tech” concept and made it a reality in the cloud. Our new engineering invention is based on our own design and is the subject of a pending patent. We have integrated various other tools, such as automated billing, a chat service, and a video conference facility, as well as DocuSign, Stripe, Xero, and Twilio. We are currently in discussions with our legal tech providers to provide various other functionalities, to better service both our business and our clients.
What do you feel is the best way to get more women into in-house legal leadership positions?
We encourage fairness and equality and have set ourselves goals and met them. We do more than talk the talk – we do what we say we are going to do and are passionate in our support of diversity and inclusion.
To continue to elevate women in law, our founding team takes pride in the businesses stance. Proactivity means more than just advocating though – it takes leaders to show the way and provide opportunities and support for women and others in bringing them to an elevated level.
What nominators say:
‘Claire Bibby is a first-class multi-award winning leader in law. Known for her mentoring, leadership and strategic business mind, I have enjoyed watching her enliven and entertain a full house in a key note and facilitate thought provoking panels providing meaningful insights to learn and grow from. All topped off with a warm and generous spirit, she epitomises the Tim Tam analogy she uses to describe what general counsel clients want from their external lawyers. If that makes no sense to you, you will be well served by engaging with her to find out!’