How I got here

How I got here: Brandy Musick, Senior Manager of Legal Operations at Keurig Dr Pepper Inc

January 25, 2024
Melody Chen

Table of Contents

Brandy Musick is the Senior Manager of Legal Operations at Keurig Dr Pepper Inc. (NASDAQ: KDP)., a multinational beverage and coffee maker conglomerate. She also serves on the advisory board of Consero. Previously, she was Director of Operations at Champion LLP and Ecobat. 

You’ve made the switch from paralegal work to legal operations. What inspired you to pursue a career in legal operations? 

I have been a paralegal my entire career. I started out as a legal assistant and worked all the way up to senior paralegal. When I was working at KidKraft, a kid’s toy company in North Dallas, I reported directly to the GC and CEO as their senior paralegal. The GC was a younger GC and was very in tune with technology. He guided me into legal operations work. He had me start working on more operational tasks for our small legal department when there were only about 3 or 4 of us. We didn’t have an e-billing system in place yet because e-billing was still a new concept, so I implemented Simple Legal. I started to do things outside of typical paralegal duties, such as implementing a contract management system. I attended CLOC in Vegas for the first time in 2017, and there I realized that as a paralegal, you kind of cap out career-wise with your title and compensation. A senior paralegal title is as high as it gets, and beyond that, you’re just adding experience behind your title.

I’ve spent most of my career working for in-house legal departments and reported either directly to the CEO or the GC. I loved doing that and wanted to stay in that realm. When I started making the transition to legal operations, not a lot of companies were hiring for that. After the KidKraft GC left and I was on maternity leave, I had a company reach out to me for a Director of Legal Ops role that I ended up accepting. I’ve grown professionally from there — I've attended legal operations conferences, gotten involved in the Legal Ops community, and joined the advisory board of Consero. 

The operational side resonates with me because of my Type A personality — I’m a bit OCD. My organizational skills pair really well with the legal aspect. The role is very black-and-white, and that’s what I need. I’m able to come into companies in a new legal operations role and take the first few months making an assessment of what the company has, doesn’t have, lacks, and needs. I start putting together a plan of action for different technology, processes, and systems that need to be implemented to create efficiency and savings. It pairs very well with my personality and how I handle things in all aspects of my life. It’s always made sense and comes pretty easy to me. 

You’ve come into a few companies as the first legal ops hire. What’s your go-to plan for building out legal operations? What have been some quick wins you’ve implemented?

I joined Keurig Dr Pepper in September 2022, and our legal department has about 50 attorneys, support staff, admins, and paralegals with a legal leadership team — a leadership member over each practice area/group. I spent my first months meeting each legal leadership team member, discussing pain points, what they/their teams do daily, any processes in place, and anything they wish they had. I had them tell me what they do daily because there may be things out there they don't know about that could create efficiencies. I then put together a plan to prioritize needs, what we're lacking, and how we can start tackling them. 

For example, KDP had an e-billing system in place that I was familiar with and had implemented elsewhere. Still, the platform itself was a giant mess, so the data pulled was inaccurate. No one had any insight into legal spend or budget. The top priority was getting it cleaned up and organized so we could pull accurate data and get financial reports that made sense. 

When I noticed that communication between legal and finance was lacking, I implemented biweekly meetings to keep a cadence going. We’ve created simplified reports so attorneys can review and understand what’s going on. An in-house department needs to know what they're spending, their budget, and how they're tracking. This can even mean getting law firms to submit monthly accruals so Finance and FP&A can better plan.

We started working on implementing a CLM system in January, but that's a big, lengthy project. Some more quick wins can be updating outdated outside counsel guidelines and putting together simplified financial reports. Attorneys hate numbers, even though they need to be involved, so we simplify the reports. This has improved how Finance gets data and communication from legal.

When you’re building out the legal operations team, what does that legal operations dream team look like? What skill sets are you looking for? 

For the hard skills, it is helpful to have someone with an IT background and someone with a finance background on the team.

We hired an IT analyst from our IT department to join our Legal Operations team, and that’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made so far. We brought him up to Legal Ops because he mostly focused on working with our litigation team on discovery. He sat in IT, so it made sense to bring him over. First, he has that connection with IT, and Legal Ops regularly works with IT when implementing and maintaining technology. With him, we’ve been able to bring more e-discovery work in-house and are only outsourcing when needed, which has saved us over half a million dollars in 2023 alone.  

He has been fantastic with the implementation of new platforms, like the CLM. Whenever we need to implement a new platform, there are a lot of processes to manage — going through reviews for third-party risk management (TRPM), cybersecurity, IT procurement, and more. We sat down and worked on a plan together to split up the work. He’d work on Cybersecurity and work with IT procurement.  He had never done those tasks before and handled them seamlessly and fantastically — his background in IT obviously played a big role in that. With this project, he got to experience some of the operational aspects he wasn't exposed to previously in IT.

If I could make another hire, it would be for a financial analyst. I spend about 60-65% of my day looking at reports, budgets, spending, doing accruals, and managing law firms. I would love someone with more time or bandwidth to dig deeper into the data from our e-billing system. It would be great to have the financial analyst identify potential cost savings and present a holistic picture to the GC and the executive leadership team of where our legal spend is coming from and how we can prevent future costs by conducting different types of risk assessments. We could assess where most of our litigation is coming from, such as marketing, consumer, or labor and employment, and how we can be proactive rather than reactive.

What’s helpful to look for are people who have strong attention to detail and enjoy living outside of the box. When you're trying to assess what a company or legal department needs or ways to make things better, you have to get a little creative sometimes. That means thinking outside the box and not just doing what everybody else is doing. You need to be able to think about the company as a whole — the overall picture — especially when it comes to spend. 

In an alternate universe where you’ve won the lottery, what would you do as a career if you weren't doing legal operations?

If I were to hit the lottery tomorrow, my husband and I would still be working because we like being busy and need to have something to do. But, we would move to the mountains where there are four seasons so we can snowboard during the winter and hike during the off-season. My husband and I have three girls together, ages three to eighteen, and we've gotten the whole family into snowboarding as our hobby. It’s how we spend time together as a family. Just this past February, our three-year-old got on her snowboard for the first time right before the season ended. We have a trip planned to Breckenridge over Christmas this year.

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