GC Spotlight: Andrew Janis, Legal Director APAC at Uber.

This month we cast the spotlight on the Transportation and Logistics industry. With lockdown and the impacts of Covid, demand for travelling has been reducing. We reached out to Andrew Janis, Legal Director APAC at Uber to find out how the ride-hailing technology platform is pivoting during the pandemic. Although the demand for travelling has reduced, there's been a strike on the food delivery sector of the business. Let's find out more about their journey in this interesting GC spotlight:

  1. What have been your biggest challenges over the last few months?

    Because movement, people and human interaction are at the core of Uber’s business, we’re constantly adjusting our operations to account for what’s happening in the real world. COVID has led to the creation of new rules and laws, as well as many exceptions to the existing ones, so what’s correct at one point could be incorrect within a few hours or days. It’s been a challenge to keep up with the latest and advise our clients accordingly, but it’s also been especially satisfying given the importance of getting it right. 

  1. Has your role in your organization changed / is it changing? If yes, in what way?

    The expectations haven’t changed drastically, but the mix of work has. As the business pivots in response to COVID, the APAC Legal Team has had to do the same. For example, we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of product development in our UberEats business. To provide adequate support, we’ve had to reprioritize and adjust some lawyers’ roles to accommodate this need. We’re an organization that’s accustomed to (and thrives on) change, but 2020 has forced us to exercise that muscle even more than usual.   
  1. How do you think about the use of data relating to your legal department’ activities (e.g. data relating to contracts, risk, tracking workflows, performance metrics, costs)

    There is a huge emphasis on data at Uber, and the APAC Legal Team has been pretty innovative on that front. For example, our Australia Legal Team implemented a sophisticated intake process where clients submit requests for legal assistance using an online form that captures information about business impact, timeline and risks if they don’t receive the requested support. This feeds into a tracking and prioritization tool that gives our clients a real-time view of where their matter is on the list, which lawyer is handling it, and what’s been done so far. 

    One consideration that I think sometimes gets overlooked is that getting good data often comes at the cost of asking lawyers to take a number of administrative steps in addition to their substantive work. As a result, I do a lot of pressure testing before pushing for a new process and try to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, as different business clients have vastly different needs. The Australia process described above works well for that business but may not be a great fit for our North Asia businesses given their different management structure. 

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