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General Counsel

Ascend

Ascend

Legal
Arlington, VA, USA
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2024
About Ascend

Ascend empowers entrepreneurial CPAs to reach their goals with an innovative growth model that brings their firms into the new age. Backed by private equity from people-focused Alpine Investors, Ascend is building a modern platform for regional accounting firms that enables them to stay independent while accessing the resources of a large CPA firm to help them grow. Ascend provides access to growth capital, robust talent acquisition, best-of-breed technology, a catalytic leadership system, shared back-office services, and modernized equity incentives so that firms can surmount today’s industry challenges and reach their full potential. Founded in January 2023, the Company attained revenues sufficient to qualify it as a Top 100 U.S. accounting firm within six months of operation. For more information, visit ascendtogether.com.

About Alpine Investors

Alpine Investors is a people-driven private equity firm that is committed to building great companies by working with, learning from, and developing exceptional people. Alpine prides itself on fostering cultures where people value empowerment, diversity, fairness, integrity, and intellectual honesty. Founded in 2001, Alpine specializes in investments in companies in the software and services industries. Alpine has over $15 billion in AUM and has offices in San Francisco, New York, and Salt Lake City.

For more information on the firm, visit www.alpineinvestors.com

Position Summary

Reporting to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the General Counsel will develop, implement, and lead Ascend's legal function. The General Counsel will provide counsel to the executive leadership team and business operations across a variety of subject areas, including corporate law, governance, contracts, and national and state-specific regulatory compliance, with additional exposure to employment law, mergers and acquisitions, and financing transactions. The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of corporate legal practices, regulatory rules governing alternative practice structures and the accounting industry (or possess the ability to develop these quickly), and document management.

This role represents a unique opportunity for an individual to join a startup with ambitious goals, yet one that has the sophistication, resources, and leadership caliber of a much larger firm. The General Counsel will work in an exciting, fast-paced, and entrepreneurial environment, and will help promote a team-oriented culture that values treating people well.

Location: Arlington, VA (hybrid)

Key Responsibilities

The General Counsel will be responsible for standing up and leading a world class legal function at Ascend.

Organizational

  • Advise the executive leadership team (ELT) on the legal, regulatory, and reputational risks and implications resulting from corporate strategy.
  • Provide legal advice to the ELT on a variety of other topics, including, but not limited to, contracts, employment, intellectual property, and data privacy. The General Counsel will also be responsible for helping to represent the company in legal proceedings, if necessary.
  • Serve as an overarching connector and visionary when it comes to security and risk. Be a model for collaboration across all functions.
  • Provide general training to Ascend and its subsidiary employees on legal issues.
  • Manage outside counsel relationships to ensure cost-effective and efficient working relationships; delegate workstreams that should be handled externally.
  • Review and opine on the corporate entity structures and build an in-depth understanding of tax laws and industry trends with respect to ‘buy and build’ strategies in accounting.

Compliance

  • Oversee the Company's compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and conduct legal research and analysis to stay up to date on changes that may impact Ascend and its subsidiaries. Eventually, consider publishing industry whitepapers with key findings to establish Ascend’s legal thought leadership.
  • Manage the Company’s AICPA and state board regulatory strategy, compliance, and communication, developing state-specific regulatory expertise.
  • Become an expert on alternative practice structures and Attest entity requirements, acting as an advisor to firms in peer reviews, quality control procedures, and independence requirements. Communicate compliance requirements internally and help subsidiaries stay up to speed.
  • Partner with HR on employment practices, employment handbook updates, insurance documentation, and minimizing EPLI exposure. Manage international employment arrangements at Ascend and its subsidiaries.
  • Advise on compliance matters related to financial reporting, anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering.
  • Collaborate with Finance & IT to formulate Ascend’s data security requirements and risk management plans.
  • Establish KPIs to track and communicate the Company’s compliance and legal risk profile.

Documentation

  • Develop, implement, and standardize documentation processes to improve efficiency and mitigate legal risks. Cascade ‘acceptable changes’ guides to other team members and assist in negotiations.
  • Review and advise on a variety of contracts and agreements, including organizational, employment, equity, vendor, buyside, and consulting agreements.
  • Organize all contracts and other legal documents for easy access and maintenance (e.g., expiration dates); oversee Ascend's contract lifecycle and document management systems.
  • Work with external counsel to draft and negotiate transaction documents, including NDAs, term sheets, LOIs, purchase agreements, and operating agreements. Assist in lender agreement negotiations.

Education And Experience

  • Juris Doctor degree from a top tier law school and admission to practice law in at least one state.
  • Minimum of 8-10+ years of experience at a reputable law firm and/or in-house legal department (ideally both), with a focus on corporate law.
  • Demonstrated success building, implementing, and improving legal processes from the ground up.
  • A firm understanding of the regulatory rules governing alternative practice structures and the accounting industry, or an ability to develop these quickly.
  • Substantial exposure to mergers and acquisitions, ideally in a private equity or multi-entity environment.

Knowledge, Skills, And Abilities

  • Accomplished legal professional with unquestionable integrity and a strong work ethic.
  • A ‘can-do’, solution-oriented individual and initiative-taking problem solver; intellectually curious and committed to self-improvement.
  • Commercially minded with strong analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to identify legal issues and provide practical solutions.
  • Willingness to be a ‘doer’ and roll up your sleeves, and not view more administrative legal work as ‘beneath you’.
  • Excellent communication (both written and verbal) and interpersonal skills, with the ability to build strong relationships with internal stakeholders and external partners.
  • Ability to work independently, manage multiple priorities, and meet deadlines in a very fast-paced environment.
  • Ability to respond in a level-headed yet expedient manner in the face of legal issues, bringing an incredible eye for detail, catching issues, and ensuring excellence in all legal matters.
  • Effective at navigating gray areas with an eye toward practicality, while ensuring compliance and alignment with Ascend’s values.
  • Natural forward-looking orientation; scan the horizon and be three steps ahead through competitive landscaping, industry publications, and critical thinking.
  • Highly proficient with the Microsoft Office Suite.

What You Can Count On At Ascend

We live by our values:

  • Own it. We seize growth opportunities with the passion, speed, and accountability of an entrepreneur.
  • Serve wholeheartedly. We love our people and serve them with positivity and kindness.
  • Be excellent. We set a high bar because our mission matters.
  • Win together. We stay in sync, achieve as a team, and celebrate each other.
  • Bring the sunshine. We have fun and bring enthusiasm to make the journey joyful.

Compensation And Other

  • Highly competitive cash and equity compensation package, including attractive benefits.

At Ascend, we provide a fair and equal employment opportunity for all candidates regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, marital status, disability, or any other legally protected characteristic. Ascend hires and promotes individuals solely based on qualifications for the position to be filled and business needs.