Legal Tech Career Insights: Daniel Hayter, Axiom’s managing director & VP for Europe

As part of a new series focusing on the people that make the legal technology industry tick, we asked Axiom’s European managing director and vice president Daniel Hayter about his career to date, including the biggest challenges and the advice he wishes he had received.

How would you describe your current role at Axiom?

I am responsible for Axiom’s operations in Europe, which incorporate the legal markets in the UK, Switzerland,and Germany. I’m tasked with driving additional revenue and client retention, as well as generating new business opportunities with in-house legal departments across all business sectors. I maintain close business relationships with general counsel and other senior legal leaders to better understand their pain points and resourcing challenges.

How did your career to date prepare you for your current role?

Having been in the vendor space for nearly 30 years and having worked in a variety of sectors across the globe, I know how to grow a business and deal with the many challenges that come up on a day-to-day basis – both on a tactical level, as well as a strategic level. However, the best experience for my current role with Axiom was being part of the founding team at Bloomberg Law in the US in 2009. We were selling a brand-new product to in-house and private practice legal teams and aiming to displace LexisNexis and Westlaw immediately after the financial crisis. This endeavour was a formidable challenge, but it provided invaluable insight into the process of not just selling into the legal space, but more importantly, reshaping the perspectives of legal professionals entrenched in the use of well-established legal research tools. This experience has been instrumental in shaping my ability to open the minds and hearts of leaders in an industry that traditionally exhibits reluctance to adopt change.

What is your favourite aspect of your current role?

I love my job, I really do, but if I had to choose one aspect that I really enjoy, it is that I derive an immense amount of joy from seeing talented people succeed in this very competitive space. 

What are the biggest challenges?

The pace of change in the legal sector can be glacially slow, but when change does come, it tends to happen very quickly. That is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. The current laser-focus on budgets and headcount means more change is coming – particularly in Europe. However, our biggest challenges are still the competitive landscape and convincing would-be customers to engage legal services in a different way.

Looking back, what piece of advice do you wish you had received when you joined / at a key point in your career?

With any career it’s all about the journey and not the destination. The best piece of career advice I ever received was from my former boss, the CEO of Bloomberg and then Dow Jones/WSJ. He gave it to me very late in my career, so I wish he had told me earlier, but he said:Your career can be like a share price graph – there will be ups and downs, good days and bad days, even bad months, and years – but so long as the direction of travel is generally on an upward trajectory, you’re doing well. Alas, most people think that career paths are nice linear lines – the longer you work, the more money you earn, and the more responsibility you get – but that’s simply not the case.

Has your career gone as you planned?

If you had asked me 30 years ago what my career plan or trajectory would have been, I don’t think I would have come close to describing how it has worked out. Based on my experience, you never know what is coming next or what the future holds. I am looking forward to seeing what is next in that journey.

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