ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand

INNOVATION – WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN INNOVATIVE GC – A VIEW INTO ANNA LOZYNSKI’S WORLD

INNOVATION – WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN INNOVATIVE GC – A VIEW INTO ANNA LOZYNSKI’S WORLD

By Sian Wingate, President ILANZ committee| 11 March 2019

Innovation is a buzz word right now. It can mean a range of things though. I decided to ask a GC who has thought a lot about what it means for her. I had the opportunity to read Anna Lozynski’s e-book Legally Innovative- How to maximise your W.O.W [Ways of Working].

This blog explores some of the thoughts behind that book.

Sian: What does ‘innovation’ mean to you?

Anna: This was actually one of the first topics I wrote about in my own blog, click here to read.

In essence, it’s a mindset. It’s an attitude. It’s a practice. It’s a journey of continuous improvement. It means being bold, curious and disruptive in your everyday - not just talking or pondering about it. 

Sian: What gap did you see that you wanted your e-book to fill?

Anna: Legally Innovative is practical, deliberately provocative and cuts to the chase. After each of the three parts to the ebook, there are transformation focused exercises aka W.O.W Goals to help unlock your legal innovation potential, be an innovation maven and claim your innovation power. 

The ebook is a call to action for law students and lawyers of all stripes everywhere to “do law” differently by adopting a progressive mindset. In today’s ever changing and dynamic business environment, 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] in order to stay relevant. In other words, we need to get with the times!

And while there has been a surge of consistent discussion around legal innovation, I believe that the momentum around the concept still needs greater action and cut through, particularly here in Australia and New Zealand.

As Professor Scott Westfahl puts it in the foreword: “We need to be preparing the next generation of lawyers with a different mindset and different tools. It’s a monumental opportunity to not just talk about, but through implementation, evolve our innovation intelligence across the profession”.

Sian: You say that ‘expanding your network is critical to problem solving’. Could you share an example of a kind of problem you have solved and what kind of person helped you?

Anna: There have been countless instances in my career and life where networking has shined and served.

In a working context, being connected internally means you can solve a problem more efficiently if you know who to contact to garner further information; externally it means you can more effectively cut through a business problem between companies from lawyer to lawyer. In a career context, it means you can learn about a prospective employer from the inside, which is invaluable. In an innovation context, it can lead to the ability to have IT sponsor the build cost of a new legal app, or to know which legal tech provider to use to drive efficiency.

Sian: Why do you think the legal industry is slow to transform?

Anna: There are indeed many reasons.

However, in short, I have observed a pattern in the responses from lawyers about legal innovation, which spans the full gamut of emojis. If I were to group all these reactions, they would fall into one big bucket labelled “Fear”. Fear of the unknown. Fear of driving change. Fear of failure. Fear of stepping out of our comfort zones. Fear of being judged. Fear of the technology not being perfect enough.

(Sian: I’ve written a blog post about this topic too!)

Sian: You mention service level agreements with business colleagues. Does L’Oréal have these? Could you share some insight into what kind of SLAs you have and how you agree them?

Anna: In 2017 we created a ‘How Legal Supports You’ playbook for L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand with the support of our CEO and executive team, which is a living document on our company’s intranet. (We are actually currently trying to work out how to better digitally animate it). It sets out the types by subject matter of legal support available, who to contact to solve the problem (in-house lawyers, legal tech or our external service providers), and the average turnaround time.

To date, we haven’t enforced the Guide too strictly, as we need to be agile and responsive to the extremely dynamic and fast-paced nature of the business, which has 28 brands in Australia and 19 brands in New Zealand as well as Corporate functions.

Finally….I also met with Anna at the Global Legal Hackathon in Melbourne late last month. Anna was judging the hackathon alongside some other experienced professionals. Anna noted that she has exercised her own initiative to educate herself about new or unfamiliar aspects of technology. She has attended basic coding courses to ensure she can ‘speak the right language’ when she asks developers to design another L’Oreal legal app (now over a dozen in place).

My takeaway from this is that you have the choice in deciding how you embrace innovation.  If a legal software or app has been developed already and that works for your team, that’s a great example of taking the plunge to use an innovative approach to delivery of your team’s legal services.

Or you can be the innovator yourself and create methods to deliver your legal service that are bespoke for your team and your business. For this you just need to embrace an inquisitive and proactive mindset.

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