Between his time at Pray Walker and his associate years at Conner & Winters in Tulsa, "I really got to see all aspects of the business world," he saysfrom acquisitions and IPOs to litigation and bankruptcies.
Radcliffe's long-standing interest in technology has guided his practice. As the Internet took off in the mid- to late- nineties, he says, "I began to develop a niche as the guy who could talk to the small start-up companies." Though he doesn't claim to be an IT guru, "for a civilian, I can run with the concepts and understand the language."
For a brief time, Radcliffe ran his own start-up-oriented practice, Fogdog Legal Counsel. After the dot-com bubble burst, he redirected his career path in-house when WilTel general counsel David Newsome, a former Conner & Winters partner, brought him in to the communications company's law department. At the time he started at WilTel, the telecommunications industry was reeling from a sudden abundance of bandwidth capacity left behind by the many tech enterprises that shuttered in the early 2000s.
Working on WilTel's own bankruptcy restructuring proved a career highlight. The legal team helped turn the company around under "classic crucible" conditions, Radcliffe saysa series of dynamic, high-pressure negotiations and litigations: "It was one of the best experiences of my legal career."
For his next act, Radcliffe joined IHS, a technology information company "that was basically reinventing itself." In 2005, a year into his tenure as a securities lawyer at IHS, the firm went public. His role evolved to encompass the company's intellectual property portfolio; he also doubled as chief compliance officer.
"Every business needs to define what it means by 'compliance.' It's not something that can be assumed," Radcliffe says. "There is no standard out there that fits every business and every industry."
Radcliffe believes that while in-house lawyers can advocate for change, their ideas stand a better chance when senior business leaders get behind them. "The idea is to advocate for something in a way that allows it to become someone else's idea," says Radcliffe. "That's a success."
At Ciber, Radcliffe already knows where he has his work cut out for him: finding more cost-effective ways to deliver legal services to the business. "For the past five years," he says, "our industry has been focused on the billable hour versus value billing." But Radcliffe says that the billable hour is only the "symptom" of a larger disconnect, which is that in-house counsel and outside counsel aren't aligned on incentives.
"It's going to take not only better relationships, but new forms of relationships with our outside counsel," he says.
Meanwhile, he's excited about learning the ropes from his new colleagues. "Ciber is in the business of helping its customers deploying new technologies," Radcliffe says. For someone with a lifelong love of technology, he adds, "this is like being in a candy store."