Suzette Torres is not a politician, but the new general counsel of Lennar Title has put together a plan broadly outlining the key objectives for her first 100 days.
Torres, who also serves as senior vice president and corporate secretary, said the blueprint is aimed at helping her get off to a strong start while serving as a GC for the first time.
Speaking to Legal Dive in her personal capacity and not on behalf of Lennar Title, the former assistant general counsel at Opendoor described the central elements of her 100-day plan.
Torres, who started at Lennar Title in May, said forming meaningful relationships with her new colleagues is at the top of her agenda.
This includes developing a strong connection with Torres’ boss, the president of Lennar Title, and figuring out how the legal team can help the company achieve the top executives’ goals.
Torres is also working to build bonds among what she called her “small but mighty” legal department that features two direct reports.
She has set up a weekly meeting with her team in hopes of creating an environment in which its members “know how to work well together and to work really efficiently.”
“I need to know about the projects and skills of my direct reports,” Torres said. “This helps me plan and prioritize our objectives for the team. It also helps us set expectations on how to move forward.”
Torres has also endeavored to develop relationships with members of other business teams and units within the company.
This includes connecting with the productions/operations, HR and IT departments, among others.
“I want to make sure I introduce myself and make strong connections so that I can find my ‘phone a friend’ when questions pop up,” Torres said. “This also helps me figure out if I need to set up standing meetings.”
Her efforts have been aided by the fact Torres previously worked with some colleagues in other business units during her employment at North American Title Company from 2016 to 2019.
“That trust is already built up, which is kind of nice,” she said.
Another priority for Torres has been compiling a list of the key projects she and her team need to focus on.
Compliance matters, including the legal department’s role in helping Lennar Title participate in various audits, have risen to the forefront in the early going.
Torres said she wants to determine whether any issues auditors identify are new concerns or repeat issues. This information will help her and the team devise proactive steps to make sure such issues don’t arise again moving forward.
Overall, she said she is implementing a “measure twice, cut once” approach in her department that will still ensure “speed to impact.”
Torres, who previously served as interim head of legal for OS National, is also figuring out what her personal bandwidth is as a GC.
“After the first 100 days I should be able to gauge my workflow, whether I need other resources, or if I need to refresh my priorities,” she said.
Torres said making sure she keeps up to date on cutting-edge issues and technology of interest to her company is an important component of her new position as well.
One hot topic she has her eye on in the real estate industry is the use of technology to facilitate digital funds transfers.
Torres said this is an area where both legal and compliance professionals must come together to think through implementing any new systems, including assessing the potential liability involved.
She sometimes reaches out to connections she has made at other companies in the real estate industry to discuss digital funds transfers and other pressing issues of the day.
“I think we all have the same goal where we want to do right by our customers and do well,” Torres said. “So anything that we can do together to make this industry work better for the customer, I love it.”
Tapping her network
Discussing innovation with other legal leaders in the real estate industry is just one way Torres utilizes her network as a GC.
She said her connections can also come in handy when she has a question she doesn’t know the answer to, particularly in specialized areas of the law where she is not an expert.
“For any GC, you should really leverage your network when you can,” Torres said.
She said Patti Dietz, chief legal officer of Lennar Mortgage, has been an invaluable resource as well.
Additionally, Torres has joined the Women's General Counsel Network to learn from more experienced GCs and build new connections.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of this group because it had such great resources,” she said.