In-House Counsel For Holacracy-Powered 12-Person All-Remote SaaS Company
Hi! We’re Action Verb.
We build two Infrastructure-as-a-Service Platforms that Engineering and Marketing professionals use to power their products and services.
Our company consists of 12 (but growing to 20 by the end of the year) full time USA-based staff, as well as sales and support outposts in France, Germany, and Latin America.
Our infrastructure platforms are used by over 2,000 enterprises and SMBs, including Mozilla, Canonical, UPS, DirecTV, GoPro, Marriott, and more.
Our Success Strategy
We’ve been able to achieve the rare combination of high double-digit annual growth and industry leading profitability.
We do it by aggressively recruiting the absolute best and brightest people and structuring our company in a way that makes them want to work here forever.
It’s easy to say, but exceptionally hard to execute. Here’s how we do it.
We Practice Holacracy
We are one of the early adopters of Holacracy, a new style of running an organization in a self-organizing manner that draws inspiration from agile software development and lean manufacturing processes.
Rather than hiring people for exactly one job description, we instead look to find well rounded team members with skills in software engineering, design, marketing, sales, and our other needs who are interested in filling multiple roles within the organization.
As a self-organizing team, our people have multiple roles and our role descriptions are regularly updated via small iterations. As their interests change and our needs change, the roles people fill change dynamically over time.
"Most startups believe in iteration of their
products. Now they need to apply the same thinking to their
– Adam Pisoni, Yammer co-founder & CTO
Holacracy is not unstructured: you’ll have a clear understanding of your current roles and responsibilities, as well as a set of rules and processes for changing those roles and responsibilities in real time.
Even though Holacracy is a lot to learn, we have a great onboarding process and the rest of our team will guide you through your first few months. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend a weeklong official Holacracy training event at our expense.
We also practice Open Book Management, meaning that we share the exact details of our Balance Sheet and P&L Statement with our entire team in real-time, ensuring that our staff has the data they need to treat the business as if it were their own.
Our team members work from home and choose their own hours, allowing them to make time for family, recreation, vacations, or anything that is important to them.
Every full-time team member gets 10 company-wide holidays per year as well as 20 paid time off days intended to be used for vacations. Go have fun. Don’t work all the time.
Our team members also work hard, are constantly learning, and accomplish a ton for the company in the time that they are working.
Our team spends at least 18 days together face-to-face per year at six in-person meetings spread out through the year and hosted all over the country. We try to do these meetings in cities that are fun to visit. In the last few years, we’ve been to Austin, Orlando, Minneapolis, San Diego, Las Vegas, New York City, Detroit, and Fort Lauderdale.
The Genesis of the In-House Counsel Role
Currently, we do not have an in-house counsel, and we require all of our customers to agree to a standard Services Agreement that is consistent across all of our customers.
However, as our sales department has become more and more successful, we’ve been landing bigger prospects and more sophisicated customers for whom this one-size-fits-all legal approach doesn’t work.
For example, some of our customers are state and local governments who require that services contracts use their template rather than ours.
Other customers are larger Fortune 500-type businesses who have well-established internal requirements for technology vendors where we would need to amend our terms to account for their requirements.
Some customers are regulated by HIPAA, HITECH, GLBA, FERPA, IRS 1075, and other domestic regulations that place requirements on their technology vendors.
Additionally, because we offer services in a variety of locations (we have datacenters in UK, EU, Australia, Japan, and more), we have customers subject to a variety of regulatory regimes, including EU Data Protection Directive, UK Data Protection Act, and the Privacy Acts of various other countries.
Purpose and Accountabilities
The primary focus of this role will be to transition our company away operating around a static Services Agreement and create a more flexible approach that allows us to selectively comply with additional requirements to maximize the chance of winning each sale, while also minimizing the risk to the company to the greatest extent possible.
Additionally, you will take ownership of keeping the company compliant with legal requirements and protecting the company from legal threats.
Here are some specific things you will be accountable for:
You’ll create a more dynamic set of Services Agreements and Amendments, as well as a set of internal procedures for how we handle requests to negotiate the various points.
You will create policies for how we handle limitations of liability, venue selection, service level agreements, indemnity, confidentiality, data ownership, insurance requirements, and representations/warranties.
You will research how competing vendors handle these terms and become familiar with ‘industry standard’ approaches, such as those adopted by Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, Salesforce, etc., and steer our legal operations in a direction that is as industry-standard as possible.
You will determine whether it’s ever advantageous to use a customer-provided services agreement and if so, you will make sure that our preferred terms are included as best as possible.
You will be the primary point of contact for the legal teams of our customers and prospects, and you will work closely with our Sales department to close deals. You’ll handle red-lining and back-and-forth negotiations.
You will get on the phone with customers and prospects and persuade them to see things our way, to the extent possible.
You will take responsibility for the agreements between the Company and our Employees, as well as responsibility for reviewing the agreements we sign with our vendors.
You’ll take responsibility for our membership in US-EU Privacy Shield, and other data protection programs.
You’ll take responsibility for our set of liability insurance polices and work to ensure that our coverage best reflects the risks created by the Services Agreements we enter into.
You will also become responsible for developing a set of marketing materials we can provide to our Sales team and publish on our website that highlight our ability to support the various types of legal and insurance requirements that our customers may have.
You will evaluate and respond to and subpoenas we may receive for customer data. (This has only happened once in our history, but as we grow, we expect that it will happen more.)
… and anything else that you feel fits within the purpose of keeping the company compliant with legal requirements and protecting the company from legal threats.
Also, if you are interested, there would also be an opportunity to take over our Tax and Audit roles as well.
We are looking for applicants who meet the following qualifications:
- JD degree from an accredited law school
- Licensed to practiced law in the U.S. and in good standing with the bar in at least one state.
- 2+ years experience with technology transactions in a corporate or well-regarded law-firm environment
- Experience with at least some of the regulations that may apply to technology service providers, such as GLBA, FERPA, HIPAA, HITECH, ITAR, IRS 1075, EU Data Protection Directive, EU Model Clauses, US-EU Privacy Shield, UK DPA, and other foreign Privacy Acts.
- Understanding of the range of accepted industry standards for commonly negotiated points in technology services contracts, including limitations of liability, venue selection, service level agreements, indemnity, confidentiality, data ownership, insurance requirements, and representations/warranties.
- Desire to work in a fast-paced startup environment where if something you need doesn’t exist, you are expected to build it!
About Full-Time vs Part-Time
In general, Action Verb only hires USA-based full-time employees. However, the position of In-House counsel is a unique one for us. We know for certain that we don’t currently have enough legal work for this to justify a full-time position. I estimate that the monthly workload currently is 10-20 hours per month.
Therefore, we are open to a few different types of arrangements for this position.
This position could be a part-time position with a fixed monthly retainer and per-hour billing for hours in excess of the monthly retainer. If we go this route, we will pay rates comparable to the rates at which you are currently billing in your law practice.
Under this arrangement, we fully understand that Action Verb would not be your main priority. However, it’s important to us that you feel like you are part of our team, participate in our Holacracy governance process, travel to participate in at least some of our in-person meetings, and stay active in our company Slack discussions.
If you wanted to grow your role within the company to take on non-legal roles (such as the tax or audit roles mentioned above, or any other role) as a way to get more hours, we would absolutely be open to that.
If you happen to meet the qualifications for this position and another one of the positions we hire for, we would consider hiring you as a full-time employee, splitting your time between the In-House counsel role and other roles. These other positions include Tax, Audit, Software Engineer (Front-End, Back-End, or Operations), Support, Sales, or Marketing. Or, if you have other interests that you think could be beneficial to the company but are not related to the roles we are currently hiring for, we are at least open to hearing your ideas.
If you join as full-time staff, our typical offer to new hires is as follows:
We will pay you $100,000 in your first year, plus a great benefits package, and a $2,500 signing bonus to purchase a new computer. If you are currently employed as an in-house counsel or at a law firm, we will match your current salary.
After your first year with Action Verb, we will update your salary based on the value that you have been able to demonstrate for the company. We continue to update salary levels every year. It is possible to reach a pay level of double the starting salary if you come in and absolutely crush it.
Some of our Core Beliefs
We believe that recruiting and hiring top talent is very hard. Our success depends on finding the best engineers out there, so we’ve invested heavily in our recruiting and interviewing processes. Making our next hire even better than the last is one of our highest priorities.
We believe that allowing and supporting 100% remote work gives us access to great people we wouldn’t otherwise be able to hire. We tend to hire folks who are later in their careers, which means they usually have their family established somewhere. By offering remote work, we can hire the best people, no matter where they’re located.
We believe that remote work is actually harder than in-office work. The biggest challenge that we experience with a remote team is keeping everyone in sync. We lean heavily on tools like Slack and holaSpirit (a Holacracy-specific productivity tool), and we are in the process of building our own project and action management system that conforms exactly to our processes.
We believe that the best way we can acquire top talent is by being an amazing place to work. Work from home, travel with the team, and surround yourself with top tier people at Action Verb.
Ready To Apply?
Working here isn’t for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, please apply.
We only read cover letters in our first screening round, so make sure yours counts. The following are topics we’d like to see addressed in your cover letter:
- Why does this opportunity specifically appeal to you?
- Are you interested in this as a part-time or full-time position? Tell us more about your existing law practice or other part-time or full-time activities so we can understand how you envision Action Verb fitting into your life.
- Would you see yourself wanting to take on additional roles with Action Verb? What types of roles would you be excited to fill?
- Are you familiar with Holacracy? Any questions or concerns?
We look forward to reading your letter!