68: Walmart Stores’ Alan Bryan on Team Diversity and Earning New Business

Walmart Stores – A Culture of Being Respectful to All

Alan Bryan is the leader of the Office of Outside Counsel Management & Legal Operations for Walmart Stores. He transitioned from law firm partnership to in-house counsel managing litigation for the world’s largest retailer.  Today his office oversees his company’s relationships with all outside counsel measuring performance, cost and diversity.

Alan Bryan Bio

4 personal strengths that can lead to success in a changing environment:

1 – Patience with yourself as you transition. Give yourself time. Know that others will give you time.

2 – Honesty and humility. Successful change has a lot to do with attitude.

3 – Communication skills become increasingly important as teams and responsibilities grow.

4 – Passion for what you do.

On the transition from a firm to in-house legal and ultimately legal operations: As a firm lawyer you dive deep into a specialty. As an in-house lawyer and specifically a legal operations professional; your attention turns to costs, internal processes, vendor management and strategically looking at legal department operations as a whole. This effort has grown to include a Legal and Data Analytics team.

When asked what Walmart Stores looks for in their legal and business partners: Cost, diversity, and performance are a few of the top priorities.

We do not want to feel like we’re ‘the prize’ that was won: Often when a firm is awarded a matter they focus on the revenue and not the relationship they should be building. Get to know the people – we’re all people.

Be patient:  It’s highly likely your bidding against an incumbent and others in the market – there’s a lot of competition.

Explain why you’re unique: Why we should consider you and your firm versus the others in the market. Make it about us, do your research know our industry, what’s occurring, and present a resolution that highlights your differentiator.

A growth success story: A firm partner recommended an approach that resulted in an effective resolution and significantly less work for her and her firm than alternative approaches. By thinking about the long-term relationship versus short-term financial gain, this approach helped build an effective business relationship and lead to future assignments.

Get to know the person before you pitch:  Have patience, be in it for the long haul.

The problem with firm marketing materials: They talk about the lawyers and what they’ve done which is instructive but not unique. Focus on what you bring to the table that’s different.

Bring, assign and deliver a diverse working team: When bidding on matters with Walmart Stores.

Change is a constant in the legal profession:  The disaggregation of legal services has been a surprising and significant change in the market.    E-discovery, document review services, technology-enabled, and many other solutions have taken and will continue to take services out of the traditional law firm model.

AI will not replace lawyers but it will replace tasks: Like e-discovery, AI and the focus on Cyber Security will become part of the way we do business.

We have yet to see broadly scalable AFAs across the industry:  The organization that can expand AFAs across the industry and gets both in-house lawyers and outside counsel comfortable with them has a market advantage.

Risk and the billable hour:  Both sides have to be comfortable and it has to be of value to the client.

Walmart supports supplier diversity: Working with solos, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, AM Law 200, and virtual law firms.

In-house legal departments get into assignment habits: Walmart is doing more RFPs to add more firm variety into their firm mix.

Diversity is engrained in the culture at Walmart Stores: Around 260M people walk into a Walmart Store around the globe each week.  It’s Walmart’s culture to be respectful of all.

This episode is sponsored by Diversity Lab:

Diversity Lab Logo Color New Tagline