Law Department Operations Profile: Steve Harmon, Cisco Systems, Inc.
While at LegalTech West Coast 2012, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with Steve Harmon from Cisco Systems, Inc. Steve runs Cisco Systems’ legal technology efforts and operations. If David Cambria is the Godfather of law department operations (Vito Corleone – Marlon Brando’s character in the Godfather), then Steve is certainly Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). Seriously, that is how David and Steve were referred to me by one of the execs sitting in the audience at one of the sessions Steve participated in. With a reference like that, I knew I had to get his profile up on LDOBuzz.com.
Steve is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, with a BS in Business Management with a Management Information Systems emphasis. He also has a JD from BYU.
He did not come from the law firm side, like so many that enter the corporate legal realm rather started his career working directly for the General Counsel of Novell. As an extension of that role he began supporting the strategic investments function at the company and was offered a role in strategic business development assisting the management of Novell’s internal venture capital group. He later joined Cisco in a business role as the global lead of their strategic alliance with HP.
In 2000, Steve returned to practice law in the in-house environment at Cisco and practiced on their Licensing team supporting a variety of groups. Over the years, he has been the lead lawyer on procurement, marketing, privacy, copyright and several other practice areas. His last role prior to accepting the management position over Cisco’s Legal Technology Solutions (Operations) was as the lead lawyer for their mid-range routing and Telepresence business units. Today, Steve’s title is Senior Director, Legal and he reports to the General Counsel, Mark Chandler.
Cisco’s legal department is organized functionally with practice leads for litigation, M&A, Corporate, Licensing, etc, with an overly of geography leads. There are approximately 300 professionals in legal, with 165 attorneys. Steve is the practice lead for the Legal Technology Solutions group with 40 direct reports. He also manages Cisco’s global Export compliance function. And, his #1 metric? The number of legal professionals per Billion dollars of company revenue.
Steve’s team is responsible for all traditional systems for department management except for e-discovery. Representative tools include: matter management, e-billing, document management, knowledge management, contract automation and document assembly, electronic signature systems, etc. They manage the deployment of commercial tools and also have a rich history of developing their own tools when commercial alternatives are not available. He also manages a captive LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) within the department with global 24×7 availability to support their lawyers.
A recent article highlighting Cisco’s law operations, written by Legal Executive Leadership, is certainly a highlight of Steve’s career (click here to view the article), but he’s equally proud of the entire organization they’ve assembled to support Cisco’s Legal operations. He believes their combination of knowledge and business management, operational consulting, tools, processes, and organization adoption strategies are best in class in nearly every respect.
Steve and his family reside in Las Vegas, where he primarily works out of his home office, utilizing teleconferencing whenever possible. He has a blended family with six children ranging from 5 to 18 (four boys and two girls). He also has two chocolate labs.
Steve is an avid woodworker and restores classic sports cars. His current project is a 1963 Corvette.
You may connect with Steve on LinkedIn here.