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LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2018: Chad Pryor

Associate General Counsel, HighPoint Global LLC, Indianapolis Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 2010

May 2, 2018

Chad Pryor’s combination of ambition, analytical ability, business acumen and relationship-building make him a key player as associate general counsel of one of the nation’s fastest-growing businesses. He’s also led efforts serving people with autism and their caregivers, and he has provided free legal service to more than 150 people in central Indiana.

lil-pryor-2018How did HighPoint Global achieve a 9,000 percent growth rate in five years?

HighPoint’s mission is to transform the life of every citizen by elevating the quality of public service. The majority of HighPoint’s growth has been organic in nature and fueled by contract work helping federal agencies improve the efficiency of their programs and the satisfaction of the citizens they serve. A major driver was a large contract win with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide training, contact center optimization, IT and quality assurance services. The exponential organic growth was supplemented by inorganic growth in 2017 with the acquisition of Primescape Solutions, which will enable the combined company to take advantage of the federal priority around “digital transformation” and legacy systems modernization.

When did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?

I first became interested in the law in high school when I participated in a moot court program. In college, I studied finance and business management, thinking that body of knowledge would be useful no matter what I went on to do. During college, I had a lingering interest in becoming a lawyer but wasn’t necessarily convinced it was the right path for me. While weighing my options, I had a professor that helped me see how I could potentially combine my budding interest in business with a law degree. So, I went to law school with the goal of one day being able to help startup businesses understand and navigate the legal issues facing them. Fast forward a handful of years, and I was able to do just that as one of HighPoint’s early employees.

What’s your advice for young attorneys who want a career as in-house counsel?

Be honest with yourself and consider the following:

1. Do I care to learn about business? Companies demand not only highly skilled legal counsel but also someone who is capable of understanding business and the environment in which it is conducted. It is not acceptable to simply advise on what can or cannot legally be done; an in-house counsel’s advice must consider and suggest viable alternatives that are both legally sound and can accomplish the business’s goals.

2. Am I OK with one client? Unlike private practice where you might have many clients in a variety of industries, all with different objectives, in an in-house role, you have one client in a narrower market with a specific set of goals. While the former provides more variety, the latter provides the opportunity to better understand your client.

3. Am I OK being more of a generalist than a specialist? While not true for all in-house roles, many in-house attorneys are required to be more of a jack-of-all-trades as opposed to a narrowly focused specialist. As a generalist, you will not have the legal expertise in every issue that will arise, nor will you have the luxury of time to research every question until you are 100 percent confident in the answer. Therefore, you must be comfortable operating with a level of uncertainty and making risk-based decisions in that context.

Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?

While I am very fortunate to have many people who have invested in me and my career, one early piece of advice I received stands out. Travis Bonnell, who was a colleague of mine at Rolls-Royce, was instrumental in helping me see how, as in-house counsel, I can truly be a business partner (as opposed to just an advisor). He encouraged me to immerse myself in the business and focus on building relationships, which would enable me to assist my internal clients in exploiting opportunities and minimizing risk. This foundation is critical because businesspeople are not always looking out for legal risks (nor should they be); only when in‐house counsel is a respected member of an integrated team can he or she truly spot legal issues.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?

The most rewarding aspect of my practice is playing a critical role in carrying out my company’s mission. Whether it be through facilitating an acquisition to grow the business, developing policies and business processes to help us work more efficiently, negotiating employee benefit plans to help take care of our employees, or developing tools to ensure we conduct our business in an ethical manner, I can see the direct impact my work has on ensuring our company is making a difference for our customers, employees, and the communities in which we live and work. 

What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?

Spending time with my family. My wife, Leslie, and I have two girls, Ellie, who is 3, and Kate, who is 1. Our girls keep us hopping (as any parent can attest), but being a dad is an incredible blessing and has helped me keep the right perspective on things. As a family, we enjoy playing games, hiking, camping, traveling and are active in our church. In the little free time I have beyond that, I am active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel, and volunteer for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. I also enjoy backpacking and fishing with my friends, running, and supporting the Colts, Pacers, IU basketball, and the Indy Eleven.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

The specific role is not important as long as I enjoy what I’m doing, making a difference, and providing for my family.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I once rode a camel into the Israeli desert and spent the night, tentless under the stars.

What has been your most memorable case project?

I had the opportunity to help lead HighPoint’s efforts to acquire Primescape Solutions, Inc. last year. I helped formulate the acquisition strategy; conducted target profiling and assessment; helped lead capital raising efforts; supported and coordinated valuation, deal structuring, and negotiations; and led due diligence and integration. This strategic acquisition expanded the company’s capabilities and significantly grew the company’s earnings.

How do you see the legal profession changing in the next decade?

First, as more and more millennials enter the practice of law as well as become consumers of legal services, the profession will need to adapt to that generation’s tendency to value flexibility (and the technology that enables this), work-life balance, and mission-focused organizations. Second, there’s a growing feeling that the regulatory environment governing the practice of law inhibits the profession’s ability to innovate. The system tends to force lawyers into working in isolation. See, for example, Rule 5.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits lawyers from sharing fees with and partnering with non-lawyers. To be competitive, lawyers will need a greater ability to leverage the expertise of individuals outside the profession such as technologists, data scientists, project managers, etc.

What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?

Instead of going directly to law school from college, I deferred my admission to law school to gain some real-world experience and determine whether I truly wanted to attend law school. During that time, I worked for the Legal Division of the Indiana Department of Revenue. My colleagues and others in the legal community I was able to connect with as a result of that position were invaluable in confirming my desire to become an attorney.

If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing instead?

I think initially I would have pursued a career in financial planning or wealth management. Knowing what I know now, I could also see myself working in marketing — potentially as an entrepreneur. In particular, I’m really intrigued by what social sciences can tell us about consumer behavior. I think there’s an opportunity to leverage research-based customer insights to develop powerful brand strategies.•

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