ARTICLE
17 April 2024

Matt Campobasso: "The Legal Team Has To Be Able To See Around Corners"

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Goodwin Procter LLP

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Matt Campobasso is general counsel (GC) and corporate secretary to Enfusion, a publicly traded fintech company that provides investment management software to asset managers.
United States Law Department Performance
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Matt Campobasso is general counsel (GC) and corporate secretary to Enfusion, a publicly traded fintech company that provides investment management software to asset managers. Over 18 years, he has been a government attorney, a law firm partner, and the general counsel for both private and publicly traded companies.

In this interview, Matt discusses his approach to leading Enfusion's legal team, advising Enfusion's CEO and board of directors, and what GCs need from outside counsel.

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

What first prompted you to consider a career in law?

Simply put, my uncle. He is one of the kindest and most gregarious people you will ever meet. When I was old enough to understand what a career was, I learned that he was the general counsel of AAA-Chicago Motor Club. We would talk about what it meant to be a lawyer, how he helped his clients, and the sorts of issues he dealt with as an attorney. The more I learned, the more I thought I might enjoy being a lawyer, especially because I've always liked problem-solving and I'm an effective communicator.

It sounds like it was about more than problem-solving and communication.

The main thing that attracted me was the opportunity to help people. I consider myself an empathetic person, and I enjoy lightening people's loads. As an attorney, I take a lot of pride in knowing I did something to make a situation better. For a large part of my career, I was a litigator at a law firm. Nothing was more fulfilling than helping a client who called me feeling like their world was caving in, and ensuring we had a clear plan to move forward by the end of the conversation. Helping people — whether colleagues, clients, or shareholders — is where I have felt the most joy in my career.

You started as a criminal prosecutor and then became a litigation partner at a law firm. How did those roles lead to your current role as GC?

As much as I loved trying cases, I found myself frustrated that so many issues got to a courtroom. By the time a lawyer is standing in front of a jury, so much has gone wrong, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent, and the fate of both parties lies in the hands of a jury. Ten years into my law firm career, I realized I needed to get closer to the decisions that ultimately led to the phone calls I got from clients. Then I joined Elevate, a legal technology and consulting company, where I did in-house legal work for companies as a consultant. From there I joined TruQua, an SAP consultancy, as their GC. When TruQua was acquired by IBM in 2020, I joined Enfusion.

As a firm lawyer, I didn't fully appreciate how diverse, high-frequency, and loud an in-house lawyer's life can be.

Do litigators make good in-house lawyers?

I think litigators make the best in-house lawyers because they are used to fighting fires. As a litigator, you are dropped into a situation where everyone is upset and significant amounts of money are at stake. You have to acclimate quickly and learn the subject matter better than the people who are living in the facts of the dispute. That's a powerful skill set for an in-house lawyer.

What did you learn about working in-house that lawyers at law firms might not appreciate or understand, particularly if they have never worked in-house themselves?

As a firm lawyer, I didn't fully appreciate how diverse, high-frequency, and loud an in-house lawyer's life can be. You have this tremendous volume and variety of things to deal with every day. The best firm lawyers understand what I'm thinking about, and how I think, at a molecular level. These lawyers are a GC's best friend. When I call an outside lawyer, the lawyer may think the issue I'm calling about is top of mind for me, and sometimes it is. But sometimes it's number 50 on my list. The best lawyers say, "Let me lighten your load. Give this to me and I'll come back to you with a path forward." And they deliver.

Our job is to find a way to "yes." That may involve taking a different path than expected, but we almost always get there.

Can you say more about the volume and variety of issues you're dealing with every day?

I joined Enfusion in 2020. At that time, we had a few hundred employees; we now have more than 1,000. We had a few hundred clients; we now have more than 850. We were a private company; now we're publicly traded. We have nine offices in eight countries. I tell my team that we have to be businesspeople first. We have to protect the company while enabling growth and Enfusion's ability execute the business strategy. Our job is to find a way to "yes." That may involve taking a different path than expected, but we almost always get there.

How do you communicate that approach to your board of directors?

Considering Enfusion's growth, and our speed of development and evolution as a technology company, it can feel like we are driving on the Autobahn. I have told our board that the legal team has to be able to see around corners. We have to be out ahead of the company so we can anticipate risks that might be coming. But we can't anticipate everything, so we also need to be sure the company is resilient and agile enough to correct course when necessary.

How do you create a culture that will help the legal team see around corners?

Each year, I pick a book on a theme we elect to focus on. In 2022, the book was "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World" by David Epstein. The idea was that everyone on our team has a specialty, but we all need to be able to stretch. Having range allows us to spot the issues and risks we may face across the entire business. This year, the book is "Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen" by Dan Heath. The premise is that most people can solve problems once they present themselves, but truly effective people identify patterns and look for root causes and prevent problems before they arise. I like to say that a problem prevented is better than a problem solved.

If you had to identify one skill that has allowed you to be effective in your role, what would it be?

I think my greatest strength is my ability to communicate. It is about more than just listening and speaking. It is about distilling complex issues into messages that make sense to the people you're working with. Different things matter to different groups, from the product and technology teams to human resources and finance. I have to be able to bridge the gap in our experiences and specialties to ensure they have what they need to do their jobs effectively.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

ARTICLE
17 April 2024

Matt Campobasso: "The Legal Team Has To Be Able To See Around Corners"

United States Law Department Performance

Contributor

At Goodwin, we partner with our clients to practice law with integrity, ingenuity, agility, and ambition. Our 1,600 lawyers across the United States, Europe, and Asia excel at complex transactions, high-stakes litigation and world-class advisory services in the technology, life sciences, real estate, private equity, and financial industries. Our unique combination of deep experience serving both the innovators and investors in a rapidly changing, technology-driven economy sets us apart.
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