Dell in-house legal star: 'Stay true to yourself and lead with empathy'

Jaime Frasca highlights how a challenging environment has improved flexibility for lawyers

Dell in-house legal star: 'Stay true to yourself and lead with empathy'

As a university student, Jaime Frasca channelled her love of music and the arts into an interest in protecting IP rights within this sector – an interest that led her down the path of the law. Since then, her career has soared high as she entered the in-house market, and today, she enjoys working with Dell Technologies as its senior legal director and company secretary for ANZ.

COVID-19 has created challenges for Frasca, pushing her to display her agility and adaptability as an in-house lawyer in response to rapid shifts in the business’ environment. In the process, she has learned the importance of authenticity and empathy as a leader.

In this interview, Frasca talks the pandemic’s positive impact on the legal profession’s flexibility, maintaining a competitive edge, the increasing reliance on tech innovation and Nelson Mandela as an inspiration.

What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

I have a passion for music and the arts, and I developed a strong interest in the protection of IP rights of musicians and artists when I was studying at university. It seemed a natural extension for me to combine these interests and pursue a career in law.

I love working with the business to solve problems and helping clients achieve a favourable outcome in my role as in-house counsel.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

The past year of working through the pandemic and lockdowns has been challenging for everyone in different ways, both professionally and personally. I have learnt the importance of remaining agile and being able to quickly pivot as an in-house lawyer to respond to business changes during times of uncertainty.

The advice I would give to other lawyers is to stay true to yourself and lead with empathy. 

We’re (hopefully) finally stepping out of the shadow of COVID-19 – what do you think has been the pandemic’s most important effect on the legal profession?

COVID-19 has challenged the legal profession to push beyond traditional ways of working and foster technological tools to deliver quality services. Law firms and organisations have conducted more live and on-demand CLEs online that have provided greater opportunities for lawyers to access legal training at times convenient to them.

The legal profession has also had to whole-heartedly embrace remote or hybrid working environments which I think has had a positive impact on enabling lawyers to work more flexibly. The shift away from working in the office full time has certainly engendered discussion in the legal industry on how best to support lawyers at all levels with maintaining better work-life balance.

What challenges can we expect in the industry as we transition to the “new normal”?

As we move forward, the legal industry will be challenged to determine how to maximise engagement and connectivity with clients and colleagues in the world of remote and hybrid work. The legal industry will also be challenged to maintain a competitive edge during the transition phase, particularly in some sectors where there is an expectation to do more with less resources. 

What’s on the horizon for the profession in the coming year?

We are likely to continue to see more reliance by the profession on technological tools and innovation to improve legal services and drive ongoing collaboration. Legal teams will also be focussed on transforming and automating legal processes to create more efficiencies.

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to connect in person more frequently with my work colleagues and friends, and hopefully travelling overseas again.

If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?

This is a tricky question! The first person who comes to mind is Nelson Mandela. He is one of the greatest leaders of all time and was able to rise above adversity to lead change. I think inspirational leadership is a gift worth learning.

Jaime Frasca is one of the judges for the 2022 Australasian Law Awards.

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