| Blue Apron
General counsel and secretary
After seven years of working in private practice and developing expertise in technology M&A, venture financings, private equity and other corporate and commercial transactions, Benjamin Singer moved in-house to join leading e-commerce company Gilt Groupe, pioneer of the “flash sales” and “daily deals” business models in the US. Initially working as associate general counsel before adding vice president and assistant corporate secretary responsibilities, Singer managed novel businesses deals as the company was operating in a completely new market. He recalls his outlook toward taking on such challenges: ‘[It was] incredibly exciting from an in-house perspective, finding innovative solutions to complex business problems with little precedent’. After nearly four years of cutting his teeth at Gilt, in late 2014 Singer joined Blue Apron, the fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service known for developing and bringing meal kits to market. Excited about building a legal department at Blue Apron from scratch, he impressed peers by rapidly developing and implementing critical policies, processes and practices, creating a strong and growing legal team of 12, and establishing and building out the company’s regulatory affairs and governmental affairs functions, among others, whilst simultaneously ensuring the legal function operated in lockstep with the business. ‘We partner closely with the business on various initiatives, getting involved early in the process to ensure we’re able to get ahead of any significant issues that could delay or derail the project’, he says, adding, ‘my executive team colleagues have a good understanding of what value we provide, such as ways to mitigate and manage risks inherent in the company’s activities’. Leading the governmental affairs efforts for Blue Apron, Singer has excelled at this part of his role and highlights some of the challenges faced in this arena: ‘Blue Apron operates in a highly regulated space, yet its business model is novel and doesn’t fit squarely within existing regulatory regimes. One of the ways we try to address the challenges that presents is by putting ourselves in the regulators shoes to devise solutions we believe they would recommend or support. We also proactively engage with regulators from time to time to educate them on our business and our approach to issues important to them. Building and maintaining those relationships is an important part of how we do business’. Giving advice to aspiring in-house lawyers, Singer shares the following: ‘Not all in-house opportunities are created equal. Every company is different, and so are the legal roles within them; make sure you know what you want and what you’re hoping to accomplish in your move. If you want to go in-house because you think the lifestyle is better, be aware that that’s not always the case. It’s important to understand the culture of the company and its values and to ensure they align with yours’.