04 August 2022
Adrian Warren began at Plexus as Associate Commercial Director before being promoted to Commercial Director and then Senior Commercial Director. He plays a key role in helping connect in-house Legal teams with the technology and talent required to execute faster and focus on higher value work.
It's a long and a short story. I used to work in HR at News Corp. I worked on a big HR transformation project and my manager at the time went back to work for a big law firm - she'd grown up in big law firms and banks and so on. And she pulled me across to join the HR function at that law firm (Corrs).
I worked at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and helped them with another HR transformation project. Working there exposed me to the difference between working for a big top-tier private practice law firm and any other corporation. It was slow and everything was impossible. It just worked really differently from any other company I’d worked in.
I ended up helping Corrs launch Orbit, which was a flexible legal resourcing business. They were the first big law firm in Australia to launch something like that, as a competitor to things like Plexus at the time. It was their reaction to the change happening in legal practice, and what clients want from their law firms. They were realising that the new law players that were starting to come up were really going to erode their business. After helping them launch Orbit, I got tapped on the shoulder by a recruiter to join Plexus, to take the Plexus solutions to in-house legal functions.
The Plexus opportunity was really compelling for two reasons. One, in a traditional law firm, nobody talks to the clients except for the partners. While I was part of launching Orbit, my role was behind the scenes. While all the partners went out and spoke to all the clients, I did all the work. And that gets frustrating when you want to be working with your clients on the solutions. Plexus was an opportunity to skip all that and go straight to the client, actually talking to them about the solution, which is what I was used to from working in corporate.
The other reason it was interesting to me was that Plexus was just launching into the technology space. At the time we were entering the market with Promotion Wizard, and that was super exciting. No one was doing legal service delivered through automation, it was unheard of. The long-term strategy of increasingly applying technology to the more repetitive sides of legal work was really interesting because it was obviously a huge opportunity. Having seen how big law firms work, I knew that really needed to happen. So that's how I ended up joining Plexus.
My day is primarily talking to in-house legal teams. That's basically all I do. Consulting with them about the issues they have, the challenges they face as a function, and how they can improve those things; ideally through the solutions that Plexus offers. Such as, how can they be more agile with their resourcing? How can they improve their processes and the efficiency of the work that comes through? How can they apply technology to the work that they're doing? How can they enable the business to handle more work that would normally go through the legal team?
Nowadays I spend most of my day on video calls. It used to be face-to-face meetings all around the country, but now it's mainly video calls, mostly with General Counsel. Working with them on how we structure the solution and how to sell the opportunity for improving efficiencies through technology internally. One of the big challenges that legal teams have is that they just don't have a budget for things like technology. They've never done technology before. So a lot of what we do is helping in-house legal teams sell to the business that the legal team is something that should be invested in.
I like multiple things. The major reason I still do this job is I really enjoy working with the customer to solve their problems. Every business has similar issues, but they’re all completely different. It's really interesting getting to understand the business you're working with and getting to understand their challenges. It's really rewarding to help them to solve their challenges and see the impact of the work that we do actually supporting their business. Getting the chance to work with and solve challenges for big household names like Woolworths, Optus, Coke, Nike, Pepsi and Australian Post (and many, many more) has been a great experience.
The other thing I like about Plexus is that we were ahead of the curve. We've been around since about 2010 and back then what we do was completely brand new. I'd talk to legal counsel and the idea of not just sending all of their work to Freehills was completely foreign. Nowadays what we do is much more accepted, but it's still in its infancy as an industry. The idea of applying technology to the legal processes within a business is still a relatively fledgling thing, but it's hugely necessary. The opportunity is massive, it’s a really interesting place to be.
I’ve been with Plexus for a while and I’ve had a lot of growth in that time. I've learned a lot in working with Plexus. It's been a very supportive place around my individual development, as well as how I can contribute to the broader business.
I started as an Associate Commercial Director, I'm now Senior Commercial Director and I’m discussing the next opportunity for me here at Plexus which is really cool. It's been great to have that kind of growth in my role, but I also now have people reporting to me, who I mentor and help develop. All the way through my time at Plexus I’ve learned a lot and I continue to learn every day.
There is a massive opportunity in this space. We're a relatively new kind of offering in the corporate space. And in that regard, it's relatively untapped. It's really unusual in the SaaS sales space that you're selling to a customer that does not have anything. Normally you would be selling against an existing solution that they have, and you'd be talking about how “we’re newer, better, and shinier”. In our space it’s more “you should stop doing everything in outlook and tracking things on spreadsheets. You need some systems”. It's quite a greenfield role. Which is really exciting, it’s the opportunity, the untapped market is massive.
The other thing that is really exciting is our product market fit. It's really interesting when I talk to clients and say “What are the challenges you're looking to solve? How are you thinking about those?” and Plexus just fits perfectly. I actually had a client last week send me a big word document listing “here are all of our challenges, here's what we want to try and do to solve those challenges”. The alignment with the solutions that we offer was pretty much 100%. It's really amazing.
It's very rare that you have the opportunity to sell in a space where you're selling to customers that have nothing that solves this. And your solution perfectly solves all the challenges that they have. It's really exciting.
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