A guest post by Anna Lozynski, General Counsel at L'Oréal

Ah, Innovation. Eternally Sexy. Relevant. Aspirational. Favourite Child. The Headline Act.

With the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, hail the evergreen buzzword and business badge of honour. It’s like a powerful Silicon Valley channelling cocktail designed to be shaken and/or stirred, depending on its end consumer.  

OK Google. Tell. Us. More.

Since popping the lid on the legal transformation jar in 2015, legal innovation has totally become my jam. It’s a topic and a mindset about which I am deeply passionate, and find myself easily able to geek out on.

One day in the middle of 2017, after repeatedly being asked how I came to drink the “legal innovation Kool-Aid” and feeling as if the momentum around the concept needed greater action and cut through, I decided to go out on a whim and write an e-book hoping to spread the word on a wider scale.

In essence, I believe that legal innovation is invigorating, change is energising, and efficiency will never go out of fashion.

In today’s ever changing and dynamic business environment, it is my humble view that the time is upon our profession to dramatically enhance the way we deliver our legal services, and to maximise our legal W.O.W [Ways of Working].

Our natural lawyer-esque attitudes towards legal innovation and transformation are contagious. As Jonathan Cainer forecasts, it’s as if each of us is a stately home, with rooms – even entire floors – waiting to be explored. And the doors to the legal innovation mansion are yet to be fully opened and discovered. For some of us, our mindset, relationships and legal presence may just need a new lick of paint. For others, a full scale renovation may be required.

Like any lawyer, I am “busy”, stretched and am managing a to-do list and email inbox that could do with a serious diet. What is legally unknown and legally unanticipated keeps me lying awake at night. As does the ongoing pressure of doing more with less, (or doing more with the same head count), and being perceived as proactive.

In 2015, three years into my role as an executive level General Counsel for the Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries of the world’s largest beauty company, two things came acutely to light.

First, as a small legal team it was becoming an insurmountable challenge to both effectively and responsively service our growing fast-paced businesses.

Secondly, as the Company announced its global ambition to lead a digital revolution of its industry, it seemed obvious that so too innovation and digitisation should become part of the legal function’s strategy, in order to be able to do more, and to align with the Company’s global and local digital objectives.

It wasn’t enough to consider innovation as a “project”, it needed to be core.

However, the whole concept of legal innovation can tightly trap us generally risk averse and change resistant lawyers into fear-based thinking. It can also generate strong scepticism about whether it is even a lawyer’s role to innovate. Indeed, working with technology takes us firmly out of our lawyering comfort zones. It can leave us potentially worried for our jobs, and concerned about how we may be perceived (less favourably) by others, and manage change effectively. Granted, there is no textbook on the subject. It’s not yet a core part of our legal education systems or formal training.

Digital transformation is a bit like government nutrition guidelines to eat five serves of vegetables a day: almost everyone knows what they should be doing – yet few manage to achieve the goal.[1]

It seems then that the transformation of the legal industry is happening magnificently slowly, despite our constant discussion about it. There isn’t enough data being collected to dazzle our business colleagues about our productivity and value, or to understand the legal function’s blind spots and/or areas for improvement. There needs to be a greater willingness and tolerance to give legal innovation a chance. We need to nurture and recruit more innovation mavens to spread the legal innovation yuletide.

We may have to question and break some rules and then ask for grace afterwards, as we learn and iterate from our pilot efforts. But that’s the messy stuff of innovation everywhere.

So, find a standing desk (they say sitting is the new smoking), step away from your inbox, and be ready to take a sip of that Legal Innovation Kool-Aid.

Let’s get down to the business of being Legally Innovative.

Are you in?