CEO Corner: Gilead Sciences – A Lesson in How Legal Ops Empowers Business Continuity

Mike Williams |

At our Virtual Summit, Continuity Beyond Coronavirus, the keynote session starting everything off will feature a Legal Ops leader who’s seen his company skyrocket to national – even global – prominence over the last several weeks.

I’ll have the pleasure of sharing our virtual stage with Gary Tully, Head of Legal Operations at Gilead Sciences.   Their research and development efforts around remdesivir have grabbed headlines worldwide.  So, too, has their willingness to step up and do the right thing as a corporate citizen by donating their entire current supply to doctors and patients.

He and I will be opening the Virtual Summit with a discussion, as Gary puts it, of “how Legal Operations has enabled the legal workforce in the midst of this pandemic.”

When one thinks about it, this is a perfect example for why Legal Ops is so important … in the business world.  In this case, biosciences research and pharmaceutical companies rely on developing and protecting intellectual property, so the patent and licensing side of the industry is complex and challenging.  At the same time, their legal teams need to contend with the copious and ever-changing government regulations being imposed.

During a public health crisis like COVID-19, when there’s an “all hands on deck” call to arms across every aspect of the healthcare industry, and as product research and development are accelerated, those stresses are ramped up enormously. On top of that, the Legal Ops team at a company like Gilead Sciences has to make sure operations continue to run smoothly despite the fact they’ve suddenly been forced to transition to a work-from-home environment for everyone.

The value of being prepared

Fortunately, Gary and his team have for some time embraced technology as a means of empowering smarter, more efficient operational performance. For years, they’ve been configured to have staff work from home – continuity planning that’s paid off tremendously during the pandemic.

That doesn’t mean they weren’t confronted with challenges, of course, and Gary will dig into those.  The very velocity at which changes had to happen, for instance.  But the agility they’d already instilled in their processes, the quality of the people working in Legal Ops roles, and leadership’s willingness to make quick decisions that allowed them to press forward, all contributed to keeping their operations on track.

It’s an outstanding lesson in sustaining business continuity, and an emblematic example of how Legal Operations can and should be a beacon of excellence and innovation for the rest of an organization.

What does tomorrow hold for Legal Operations?

Beyond this, we’ll talk about what tomorrow may hold for Legal Operations teams, and the questions the future holds.

Are some of the adaptations being made today for remote workforces here to stay? How will the role of Legal Ops have changed once we emerge from this crisis? How can it provide leadership in driving Business Continuity Transformation, so greater resilience and flexibility are added to an organization?

Our discussion will be just the beginning of things, as we’ve got a stellar lineup of Legal Ops leaders besides Gary on hand to address tactics and strategies for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.  All of them will be serving up the kind of immediately applicable insights and information that the community really values, and we’ll be welcoming attendee questions.

I expect it to be a lively half-day event, and we’re looking forward to how it can help and inspire Legal Operations professionals, so they can do the same for the companies they serve.

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