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Black Mountain Sand GC Kelli Roach dishes on being a solo GC, her best day on the job, how she hires outside counsel, mentoring and her hero in life.
Texas Lawbook: What is it like being a solo GC?
Kelli Roach: As a department of one, it is essential that my clients are able to operate self-sufficiently. Therefore, a large amount of my time is spent teaching the “whys” behind the advice I give so that they can issue-spot on their own and come to me with only the most critical legal issues and concerns.
To read Mark Curriden’s full profile of Kelli Roach click here.
Lawbook: Who is your hero in life?
Roach: My hero is not a single person. Theodore Roosevelt is described as the “man in the arena.” There so many contexts for the man in the arena, and in each I find my heroes. I work, socialize and see heroes every day. But the context that I am most connected to these days is that of everyday life where regardless of goals, desires, choices, hard work or achievements, things happen. In this context, my heroes are carrying on despite these things: Parents can no longer take care of themselves, a loved one dies, a child is born with special needs, health issues arise, relationships end, jobs/careers end, aging brings about physical and mental changes and even how one is perceived, to name just a few. Some of my family, friends and colleagues have faced these things and others are facing them now. All of us will face one or more of these at some point. I am sure I will never know just how heroic they are, but I am constantly amazed that with the vulnerability, pain, heartbreak and challenges that these things can bring, these heroes are able to summon grace, hope, love, strength and an overall appreciation for and belief in the goodness of life.
Lawbook: What has been your best day at Black Mountain Sand?
Roach: It is a best day any day that in working with the relevant stakeholders, we are able to find a solution for an issue that meets the needs across the board; commercial/business, team members directly affected by the issue, risk mitigation — and across the board it is believed to be the right thing to do. I am fortunate to have many best days at Black Mountain Sand.
Lawbook: Tell us about the importance of mentoring and what you see as the key to successful mentoring.
Roach: Mentoring is important in the growth of a human being. Since the dawn of time, knowledge and skills have passed from one generation to another: from one more experienced to one less experienced. Mentoring provides tools to navigate life generally and the varying paths to specific goals. It provides an example of possibilities. It can expand your sphere of influence and connections. It can cut through incorrect information and perceptions. It has the effect of bringing people up and along. Mentoring is especially important to those who are seeking a profession in which no one they know has been in, those who do not see people like themselves or in the same circumstances in the profession they are seeking, or those who do not have friends, family or other peers to talk with about what they are experiencing.
The key to successful mentoring for both the mentor and mentee is a commitment to the process, a willingness to be vulnerable and an openness to the dialogue, advice and counsel. For a mentor, I think it imperative that you are a nonjudgmental sounding board and that you work to instill in your mentee knowledge of his/her own value in whatever choices they make.
Lawbook: What do you look for in hiring outside counsel?
Roach: I look for competency first. From there, there are a myriad of factors I consider depending on whether it is litigation, contractual assistance or advice/guidance. I consider the diversity of the team, who will be doing the work, how credit for the matter is handled, the ability to generate and stick to a reasonably accurate budget, a proactive management of the matter and the willingness to be collaborative and curious.
Outside experts are critical to my effectiveness. I rely on outside counsel to be more than a naysayer or mere scribe. I seek outside counsels’ creativity, expertise and guidance.
Lawbook: Are you involved in any pro bono or public service efforts.
Roach: I am a member of the Leaders Circle at the Center for Women in Law from the University of Texas. The Center is devoted to the success of the entire spectrum of women in law, from first-year law students to the most experienced and accomplished attorneys. It combines theory with practice, identifying and addressing the persistent issues facing individual women and the profession as a whole.