As associate general counsel of AI product at Meta, Ernest Hammond III supports the development and launch of AI products, features, and tools to Meta’s AI research team and others. It’s a role that not only allows him to advise on a wide range of legal issues but to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community. He does that as a board of director for BALIF, the nation’s oldest and largest association of LGBTQI attorneys in addition to serving on several other DEI-related boards.
Hammond shares the power in-house attorneys have on impacting business decisions, the harm of caring too much about what others think, and more.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions about being an attorney or the legal function itself?
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve encountered throughout my career is the notion that legal is simply a support function and a cost center. Having practiced in-house for most of my career, I have seen firsthand the tremendous value that attorneys can bring to just about every decision that a company will make whether that be protecting the company’s interests by proactively mitigating risks or by defending the company against litigation that seeks to undermine the company’s fundamental practices and functions. In my experience, many attorneys bring a nuanced perspective to both legal and nonlegal issues and can help drive innovation for an organization beyond just reacting to legal challenges after they arise.
What’s a piece of unconventional advice you’ve received that was helpful?
One of the most meaningful (and arguably unconventional) pieces of advice I received was to stop caring about others’ perceptions of you on matters that are inherently subjective. I think as an attorney coming from a historically excluded community, I often felt the same imposter syndrome that so many of my peers feel, which led me to over index on trying to understand how those I’m working with perceive me and how I could change parts of myself (my thinking, my presentation, etc.) in an effort to improve that person’s perception. I had more than one mentor explain that if you do that sort of shape-shifting long enough, you’ll eventually lose sight of how you really are which diminishes the unique value you bring to the table. And, so, while I still believe that self-awareness is incredibly important in all things, worrying too much about someone else’s perception of fundamental parts of who you are will ultimately cause more harm than good.
What song or album motivates you the most?
Renaissance by Beyoncé.
Find Hammond III on LinkedIn.