Innovation, collaboration, transformation—our clients want it, but how do we deliver it? How do we change the way we practice law to provide holistic business solutions rather than giving only technical legal advice? How do we shift the mindset in our firms and our in-house legal teams to embrace technology and change the way we deliver legal service?
These questions are being asked every day by senior law firm leaders and GCs but most don’t know where to begin.
Answer: LawWithoutWalls (LWOW).
What is LWOW?
The marketing blurb: LWOW is a part-virtual experiential learning programme designed for practicing and aspiring lawyers that brings a humancentered design perspective to law. Its mission is threefold: First, to create innovations at the intersection of law, business and technology that solve real problems and fill real needs; second, to hone skills in these areas; and, third to change how lawyers and clients collaborate.
Reality: I learned about LWOW about a year ago and was immediately intrigued by the concept and decided to jump in with two feet and sponsor a team earlier this year. I had no idea what I was getting into but I strongly believe that the only way we shift the legal profession is to start with the students – exactly what LWOW does. By creating a community of some of the world’s brightest law and MBA students and partnering them with legal leaders from law firms and corporate legal teams, real issues are solved in ways I never imagined.
LWOW is designed to spur new business ideas by combining the law and tech. Law firms and corporations sponsor a “challenge” and it is up to the LWOW team to solve it in a manner that delivers a tangible product or solution that the firm or corporate can actually implement. This is not a drill! LWOW calls them Projects of Worth, a name fitting when you see what comes out of the minds of our future legal leaders.
How does LWOW work?
As a sponsor, I created my challenge based upon a real client need focussing on the relationships between in-house legal teams and law firms. Other projects ranged from access to justice, AI in legal project management, managing GDPR, aviation regulatory compliance, access to insurance in micro economic conditions and more. All real business and legal issues that needed practical business solutions.
I was assigned a team of students with support from former LWOW participants as mentors and had access to a network of experts ranging from tech developers, venture capitalists, judges, marketing executives and even an improv coach!
We began our 16-week journey in person at a KickOff at the University of St Gallen (St Gallen, Switzerland), where everyone, from students to managing partners, were all on equal footing – no hierarchy in the room. For two solid days, we worked together to learn how to work together. I always thought I knew how to collaborate, but in those two days I was shown a set of tools I would have never used but for this experience and now use every day with my own clients.
After KickOff, the team met virtually using the 3-4-5 Method of Innovation designed by Professor Michele DeStefano, specifically for lawyers and a variety of tech tools (e.g., Skype, FaceTime, email, WhatsApp, Adobe Connect, etc.) to define and solve our problem. Working the problem through the eyes of the students and learning new ways to think, collaborate and build solutions was beyond rewarding. Ultimately, we created a product that we presented at the ConPosium in Miami and was judged along with all the other teams. Win or lose, every team in the room came out on a high.
Snippets of what we learned:
- True collaboration between people, disciplines, the law and tech
- How to apply business solutions to legal issues
- How to create a business case and proper financial plan
Marketing and pitch skills
Presentation skills – including creating a commercial
A handful of reasons why your firm should participate in and sponsor LWOW:
- It’s a great way to partner with a client to solve a client issue in a unique way
Lawyers learn new skills that truly aid in client collaboration and innovation
You build lasting relationships within the LWOW community, including your target clients
You will be part of the new practice of law
You will change the way you approach a client or firm problem
I keep in touch with my LWOW team and I feel invested in each of them as they start their legal Page 17 (316) September 2018 aka ‘The Orange Rag’ careers. I got as much out of the experience and learned as much as the students did. For example, one of my key take-aways was learning how to properly define a client issue rather than jumping to a solution. Being a “seasoned” (aka grey haired) lawyer, I remarkably learned new ways to use tech to work with my team while my students learned what a pencil was. Approaching a challenge with a group of differing mindsets and skillsets was the key to true legal innovation. Each team created viable products that firms and clients could use and technology experts wanted to invest in.
The 2019 LWOW class will be even better as each year the program grows with new experts and thought leaders and a stellar team of motivated law students.
2019 Team Sponsors confirmed as of 20 September 2018 are all here – http://lawwithoutwalls. org/2019-sponsors/ – and include Leah Cooper Consulting (obviously); Accenture; Microsoft; iManage and law firms such as Pinsent Masons and White & Case.
Deadline for Sponsorship is October 31, 2018. www.lawithoutwalls.org
Leah Cooper is both a highly skilled lawyer as well as an expert in legal services management and business development. Since 2012, Leah has worked with global corporate legal teams to create sustainable cost reduction initiatives and efficiency improvement protocols.