Peter Alford, Associate General Counsel: "We’ve always made it a point to provide industry-leading customer service. And we do—by a very large margin."
The hardest part about working for a company as an in-house attorney is battling perception.
People tend to see the legal department as this big angry giant out in the hills; it just sits over there while no one wants to talk or think about it.
A big part of our job is working with other departments, but that’s hard to do when other departments dread what you’re going to say.
But OppLoans isn’t like that. Starting at the top with our board and our CEO, Jared Kaplan, this company is fully bought into the role that our legal and compliance departments provide.
After all, if you don’t have strong compliance and legal functions, that could turn into a cataclysmic problem for you down the road. Leadership here understands that.
We have to walk that tightrope between telling other departments what changes they need to make, what items to take out or put in, and fostering that sense that you’re still all on the same team.
I approach these issues through empathy, by putting myself in the other person’s shoes and asking what their goals are, why they want the thing they’re asking for, and what this item is supposed to do for the company at large.
It’s a little bit like the old improv rule: Yes, and. When someone brings me an idea or project that they’re working on and ask for my perspective, I try not to say “no”. I try to say “Yes, and.” (Okay, sometimes it’s a little bit more like “Yes, but.”)
It goes back to understanding what the goal is and then providing the right routes to get there. It may not be the route you just proposed, but we’ll try to find a new way together.
Sure, it might take a little bit longer. But hopefully we’ll reach some kind of the same end goal, just in a much more compliant manner.
That sense of empathy is the basis for a lot of what we do here. It’s one of the things that makes us different. When someone looking for a loan gives a call, it’s not as transactional as some of the other places they would go to.
We’ve always made it a point to provide industry-leading customer service. And we do—by a very large margin.
I think that’s a credit to how our teams operate, how they’re trained to be responsive to consumers and customers—that we actually want to help them; that it’s not just a transaction.
Our team dynamic does a wonderful job balancing between autonomy and teamwork.
But at the same time, I know that I can reach out to another team member for specific insight or added perspective and they’ll step right in to help out.
It’s easy to enjoy a position when you enjoy the people you work with. Most days the legal team will gather at lunch for a game of Horse on the Pop-a-Shot machine. It gives us a great chance to bond by showing our utter dominance over the operations team. Our building also has a great roof balcony on the 11th floor that’s perfect for a team lunch or happy hour.
Even though OppLoans is starting to move past that initial startup environment, we still have so much more room to grow. What does that mean? For me, it is that I’m not coming into the office five days a week and doing X, Y, Z and assembling a widget.
Every day comes with a new challenge; there’s always something fun to look forward to.