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30 Best Leaders to Watch 2021

In conversation with Catherine Tyler, Baer Reed Founder and CEO: “...there was a clear need for lower-cost legal expertise that could be delivered at scale.”

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“Baer Reed only works with barred attorneys from top Universities. We offer high-quality business and legal support services, at a fraction of the cost of alternatives.”

Baer Reed is the leading, woman-owned, business and legal services provider for law firms, corporate law departments, and regulated industries. The company was incorporated in 2011.

Baer Reed and its systems were built from the ground-up to service global businesses. The company’s established training, communications, security, review, and HR systems enable clients to scale their projects quickly while maintaining flexibility and the ability to customize solutions. Its managers are experts in large-scale project management and help clients design processes to streamline their projects.

Catherine Tyler, Founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Baer Reed. She graduated cum laude from Georgetown University and received her law degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center. Following law school, Ms. Tyler worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Winston & Strawn LLP.

In 2007, Ms. Tyler moved to the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. She was a member of the firm’s Litigation Department where her practice focused on domestic and international antitrust and competition law matters. It was there that she got the idea to start a legal support company. So, she left Gibson Dunn in 2010 to found Baer Reed.

Catherine Tyler, Baer Reed Founder and CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Can you take us through the journey of the company right from its beginning to the point where it unwaveringly stands today?

In 2009, I was an antitrust lawyer at a major U.S. law firm and one aspect of my job was overseeing large-scale document review and production. During this same period, the ABA issued ABA 08-451, which clarified that work done by attorneys in offshore legal outsourcing would be protected by attorney-client privilege, as long as it met certain standards for quality and training. This led me to look into legal outsourcing, as there was a clear need for lower-cost legal expertise that could be delivered at scale. I decided to leave my law firm and move to the Philippines to build Baer Reed in 2010. We opened our doors in 2011 and for five years, I worked in Manila along-side our outstanding team in the Philippines, giving them my insights into U.S. legal culture. Later, I moved back to the U.S. and focused on client-side work, including business development, and the overall business strategy. Our company has grown from there, largely through word of mouth and our expert work product, with many Fortune 100 and Am Law 100 firms as clients.

Q. Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to taking that first step and setting up your own business?

Yes, my favorite way to spend time as a child was to have a lemonade stand! I have always been one to go after an opportunity. This led me to take the first step to building Baer Reed once I identified the need for lower-cost legal services performed at high standards.

Q. What motivated you to focus on both legal and transformation aspects of business, at once?

The timing was the perfect opportunity between my own professional career as a lawyer at a top U.S. firm and identifying this need. I saw over and over that clients wanted to maintain their U.S. law firms for high-level strategy and also wanted to complement that firm with high-quality lower-cost legal support from a company like Baer Reed.

Q. Providing high-quality support services needs extremely dedicated and talented individuals. How did you manage to form your dream team?

I was first drawn to the Philippines because of their notoriously difficult law school and bar exam.

Graduates of Philippine law schools earn a professional degree like their U.S. counterparts -- attending a four-year graduate law school after completing their undergraduate degree. All Philippine law schools use the English language as their medium of instruction. All textbooks and reference materials are written in English, and all oral and written examinations and lectures are conducted in English. Graduates of Philippine law schools must be fluent in and have a superior understanding of the English language, because laws in the Philippines are largely written in English.

After finishing law school, Philippines attorneys must take a bar examination. The bar exam is a four-day exam given in English similar to the U.S. bar exam. And in fact, the current exam is a mix of legal writing and multiple-choice questions based on the NY bar exam. It is so tough that typically only about 25 percent of the takers pass the bar. That created an opportunity, because I could use bar-passage as a screening for identifying the Philippines top legal talent. 

Baer Reed only works with barred attorneys from top Universities and we have a homegrown team of expert attorney managers.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Flexibility, level-headed, and a willingness to take risks!

Keeping in mind the social and cultural bondages which generally trim down the freedom, confidence and boldness of women, what steps you would like to suggest for the women who want to be successful like you?

Don’t be afraid to identify places where there is inherent bias against women. If we do not speak up, then nothing ever changes.

Q. What other leaders do you look up to? Why?

There are so many across a variety of industries, such as Shonda Rhimes, Arlan Hamiliton, Sara Blakely, Sonia Sotomayor, Reshma Saujani, Dolly Parton, and Doris Magsaysay Ho, to name a few.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out as an entrepreneur, what would it be?

Leap before you look—don’t let the fear of failure hold you back.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

When I received my first business cards for Baer Reed, it was a very significant moment. While it legitimized what I had achieved to that point, I also became acutely aware of how much work I would need to put into the company to make it a success.

“The timing was the perfect opportunity between my own professional career as a lawyer at a top U.S. firm and identifying this need. I saw over and over that clients wanted to maintain their U.S. law firms for high-level strategy and also wanted to complement that firm with high-quality lower-cost legal support from a company like Baer Reed.”