In this interview, we dive into the world of Ben Ogg, MDK’s Executive Director of Legal and Compliance. MDK is a firm committed to creating uncommon paths to success for both its clients and employees. From transparency to adaptability and the power of creativity, Ben elaborates on the dynamics that drive MDK's approach to compliance and client engagement. Come join us as we explore strategies, teamwork tips, and client-centric practices in the legal landscape.
MDK: Could you share your career journey and how you ended up at MDK?
Ben: After law school, I worked in civil litigation at a medium-sized firm in Columbus for eight years. Matt Richardson, a friend and classmate from law school, mentioned a litigation position opening at MDK. Intrigued, I applied and began a journey that has evolved significantly since I joined MDK.
MDK: How did you transition from litigation to compliance?
Ben: At MDK, the demand for compliance grew following the financial crisis of 2008. This interested me, so I started organizing a team focusing on client directives. Over time, we've expanded to form a proactive compliance team, ensuring we meet compliance requirements in new jurisdictions or lines of business. We strive to bake compliance seamlessly into our operations, automating our workflow along the way.
MDK: Being proactive in compliance must have been a significant achievement. How did it impact MDK?
Ben: Being proactive was a major milestone. It took a couple of years to shift from a reactive to a proactive approach. Now, we anticipate challenges, plan ahead, and are ready for what's next. It transformed how we work and interact with the entire firm.
MDK: What sets MDK apart in the market, in your opinion?
Ben: MDK doesn't view things conventionally. We seek efficient alternatives, aiming to improve upon existing practices. We’re constantly striving to provide a more compliant product, finding innovative solutions to benefit our clients. Our innovation also extends to how we communicate and execute tasks, like our CoLab platform for efficient client interactions.
MDK: How does innovation influence your work at MDK?
Ben: Innovation at MDK is about thinking differently. We created the CoLab to streamline communication with clients, especially in specialized areas like timeshare. We innovate to improve efficiency, offering a level of visibility and execution ease that sets us apart in the industry.
MDK: How does MDK's unique operating model affect both clients and the internal culture?
Ben: Our flat-fee model, as opposed to hourly billing, provides clients with clear costs and eliminates hourly pressure. This fosters a culture where we focus on the work at hand rather than billable hours, reducing stress for attorneys and encouraging a more balanced approach to workloads.
MDK: Describe the overall culture at MDK.
Ben: MDK's culture is vibrant and engaging, similar to a startup atmosphere rather than a traditional law firm. We emphasize collaboration, encourage interaction, and value work-life balance. It's a place where getting work done efficiently is important, but so is enjoying what you do and having fun with your colleagues.
MDK: How does respect manifest in MDK's culture?
Ben: Respect is a core value at MDK. Everyone, internally and externally, is treated with the same level of respect, regardless of their position. This extends to how we interact with clients, ensuring professionalism and courtesy even in challenging situations. It's about treating everyone fairly and equally.
MDK: How does collaboration play a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity and making individuals feel heard? How is collaboration important for your teams and the work you do?
Ben: Collaboration is vital for us to simplify compliance for everyone. We actively engage with operations, communicating our compliance goals, and seeking their input. We evaluate their current practices and propose multiple options, encouraging collaborative brainstorming to enhance compliance effectively and increase efficiency. The goal is to have compliance requirements integrated directly into operational processes to make the task overall easier and faster.
MDK: I've observed this collaborative approach, and it seems to enhance engagement and the sense of being valued. Can you elaborate on the importance of engagement?
Ben: Engagement is crucial; we want everyone to feel heard. Actively involving individuals in new process creation and updates fosters a sense of ownership and investment in the firm and their roles.
MDK: Given the dynamic nature of compliance with numerous tasks, how do adaptability and flexibility come into play?
Ben: Adaptability is a must, especially as we transitioned from a reactive approach. We used to respond to immediate fires, dropping everything else. Now, with expansions and new practice areas, we flexibly support operations to ensure compliance in each state or practice area. We juggle various tasks, staying proactive to catch potential compliance issues before they become a problem.
MDK: Let's focus on transparency, especially in client interactions. How does MDK prioritize transparency for clients?
Ben: Transparency with clients is a priority at MDK. We handle client audits, engaging in open discussions about policies, files, and accounting. For instance, with CoLab, we've offered clients direct access to our case management system, promoting transparency by allowing them to track progress and view all pertinent information related to their files.
MDK: Reflect on a satisfying experience with your team.
Ben: Expanding into Pennsylvania was a good one. It showcased our team's proactive approach. We collaborated closely with operations and ensured a smooth transition, emphasizing efficient teamwork.
MDK: How do multiple state expansions and service offerings affect your work?
Ben: Organizing and keeping track of compliance requirements for each state and service type is a significant challenge, so staying updated and knowledgeable about the legal nuances in each location and line of business is key.
MDK: What motivates you and your team through these challenges?
Ben: We're all about learning and love a good challenge! We make sure to really grasp the ins and outs of different laws and practices, so we can team up smoothly with operations to ensure compliance requirements are assimilated in the legal process.
MDK: How does MDK's leadership guide and empower teams?
Ben: MDK's leadership emphasizes collaboration and aligning everyone toward strategic goals. We foster a united direction, making it easier for teams to work towards common objectives.
MDK: What do you value most about working at MDK?
Ben: At MDK, we're all about teamwork and getting everyone on the same page for our big-picture goals. We make sure everyone's rowing in the same boat and the same direction, so our teams can easily aim for those shared objectives.
To learn more about Ben, please click here.
This publication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an opinion of Manley Deas Kochalski LLC.
Do not rely on this publication without seeking legal counsel.