“Helping clients to navigate complexity”: David Cambria joins Bakers as director of legal ops

Described by online US publication Legal Evolution as the Godfather of legal operations, David Cambria has left Fortune 500 company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to become Baker McKenzie’s first ever global director of legal operations, a role that has been developed within and is normally associated with corporate counsel legal teams.
Cambria, who as director of global operations at ADM reduced legal spend by $22M+ in his first two years through innovative pricing models and performance-based pricing, will be responsible for ensuring that the strategies for Bakers’ pricing, legal project management, and other commercial activities are closely matched to increasingly sophisticated client needs and expectations.
He will extend the work done by Bakers’ former director of global pricing and legal project management, Stuart Dodds, who left the global firm in January to found independent management consultancy Positive Pricing.
Cambria’s role will have a strong, outward facing client focus and in a press release Bakers said: “He brings a unique “voice of the client” to the leadership of Baker McKenzie and will work directly with major clients to both help shape delivery of the firm’s services and to assist clients in addressing the development of their own operations.”
Cambria will initially focus on expanding the firm’s already sizable legal project management team, implementing advanced pricing capabilities, and participating actively in firm-wide initiatives to develop new and rethink some of the firm’s core service lines.
Writing about the appointment, Legal Evolution editor Bill Henderson said: “It is hard to predict whether this is the beginning of a trend, or a one-and-done experiment. It all depends on whether the desired benefits show up within a reasonable period of time. In this instance there are only two certainties: 1) Cambria is being compensated for the risk, and 2) the Fortune 500 will take him back if the boulder gets too heavy or the mountain gets too steep.”
Cambria said, “Many people talk about legal operations as a role within a company rather than a set of disciplines that drive better coordination, better outcomes and greater value.  I am thrilled to be joining a global firm that understands that it must evolve the way it delivers legal services if it is going to provide the value clients are demanding.”
Cambria will report to Ilnort Rueda, Baker McKenzie’s new chief services officer, who joined this year from US global management firm A.T. Kearney, where he was a partner in the financial institutions practice based in Zurich, Sao Paulo and New York. Rueda said: “Being a good lawyer is no longer enough – in order to truly meet and exceed our global clients’ expectations we need to ensure that our services directly meet emerging client needs and provide demonstrable value in solving client challenges. We are delighted with David’s appointment and the wealth of knowledge he brings.”
Paul Rawlinson, global chair for Baker McKenzie said: “David’s appointment is another important step in our strategy to seize this moment of change for our industry. Building on our history of innovation and adaptation, the decision to add a very senior leader from an in-house legal operations role will help only help us sharpen our focus on helping our clients navigate complexity and create value.”