'We're the last line of defense': Cisco's Brandon Track on the evolving role of the in-house lawyer

The corporate counsel supports the tech giant's sales operations across Canada
'We're the last line of defense': Cisco's Brandon Track on the evolving role of the in-house lawyer

In his current role as corporate counsel, Brandon Track is part of a small but mighty team of two lawyers dedicated to supporting tech giant Cisco’s sales operations across Canada. Speaking to Lexpert, Track says his responsibilities span a wide range – from negotiating and amending licensing terms to facilitating seamless interactions between customers, partners and the company, all while playing a crucial role in safeguarding Cisco’s interests while ensuring client satisfaction.

No mean feat in an organization with over 84,000 employees globally.

"We support any of the customers or partners if they want to modify any of our licensing terms, negotiate contracts of all sizes, create sales, or make purchases with our account managers, all in collaboration with our customers and their lawyers,” Track says. “We are the last line of defence when it comes to modifying legal or commercial terms or clarifying certain privacy, legal, or financial aspects.” 

Track’s career trajectory is marked by a deliberate shift from litigation to the more dynamic realm of corporate law, specifically in the technology sector. Initially starting as a litigator at a small firm in Hamilton, Track soon realized his desire for a more innovative and ever-evolving legal practice due to his passion for the fast-paced world of technology and its legal implications. It was this realization that led him to pivot his career towards the niche yet expanding field of tech law, especially significant in a country like Canada, where such roles are relatively scarce compared to the United States.

“I see a trend where a lot of tech companies will have offices here, and maybe it'll have a few lawyers, maybe more – but most are in the United States,” Track says. “We have two lawyers in legal sales in Canada, but we have approximately 120 in the US. I think that's the trend across the board with tech companies. They have a place for account managers to hang their hats here. But primarily, I find that a lot of lawyers are in the US just because of the proximity to their global head offices in California or New York.”

One of the most challenging aspects of his role, Track notes, is staying updated with Cisco’s diverse product offerings and the rapid technological advancements. As lawyers are typically not trained in business or technology, Track had to invest significant effort to learn about Cisco’s products and how they interact. This knowledge is critical for effectively addressing product-specific queries from customers and their lawyers, many of whom, like Track, may not have an engineering background. 

“Legal tech is a rapidly evolving, changing space. And that's obviously an interesting challenge when trying to keep up to date with all the rapid changes,” Track adds.

Generative AI is another area that Track identifies as increasingly influential in the realm of tech law. He acknowledges the escalating challenges posed by cyber-attacks and data breaches, emphasizing the necessity and long-term economic sense of investing in cybersecurity.

"Studies show the average organization gets benefits estimated to be 1.8 times the spending of what they put into combating cyber-attacks,” he adds. “A lot of people think they don’t want to spend millions of dollars to prevent data or cybersecurity issues, but the money that they save in the long run actually usually outweighs what they spend.”

“I think that's what companies are hesitant about. I know no one wants to spend money… we all hear about the very tough and difficult economic times we're facing and the impending recession. Companies are really tightening their bootstraps. But this is something that is pretty much a non-negotiable going forward. Companies need to invest in the appropriate resources so they can combat these challenges – and be as aggressive as possible in doing so.”