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  • LegalBusinessWorld eZine 2023 - issue #7

    Table of Contents | eZine 2023 - issue #7 The Heart of Legal Innovation: Why Culture and Leadership Matter Most, Charlotte Smith 8 Ways to Stop Losing Time & Money in Your Law Practice: An Introduction to Lean in the Practice of Law, Karen Dunn Skinner and David Skinner Navigating AI Governance across Jurisdictions, Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen General Counsel Sustainability Leaders Insights. Bits and Bites on Trending ESG Topics, Bassam Messaike Legal Ethics, Artificial Intelligence, and Mindfulness, Oh My! Jan L. Jacobowitz Confident Leadership Series Feedback: Making a Difference, Mila Trezza Interview with Adam Becker: Proving the Value of Legal Operations, Cash Butler and Jeff Kruse Whistleblowers in the Workplace: How the EU Directive is Influencing Corporate Transparency and Accountability, Florina Thenmayer and Lisa Kulmer The Value of Creativity and Imagineering to Legal Business Strategy, Heather Suttie Risk Aversion in retaining External Counsel, Richard G. Stock, We do not need legal KM anymore, do we? Valérie M. Saintot Focus on the 3 Ps to Comply with the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, Prashant Dubey Redefining Legal Operations, Ari Kaplan speaks with Connie Brenton and Jeff Franke You can read the online version here You can download and read the PDF version here #eZine #businessoflaw #legalprofession

  • Challenges In And Strategies For Law Firms To Adopt Legal Technology In India

    By Rohit Shukla and Shreya Vajpei 1.1. Introduction As we sit in the midst of a lot of chatter around the robotic lawyer, automation and multiple whispers of ChatGPT taking over a lawyer’s job, it is important to look back at what is at the heart of all this change. The legal profession is evolving, and technology is a clear driver of it. It is making every lawyer (or their clients, and by consequence, the lawyer) relook at how legal advise and legal work is built and delivered. The change is, however, not uniform across the world. In this article, we will look at what digital transformation and adoption of legal technology look like, particularly in the context of Indian law firms. 1.2. Current State of Legal Technology in India Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the state of the Indian Legal Market. The Indian Legal Market is expected to grow at 4.3% (Projected CAGR) from 2022 to 2032. However, it is important to note that it is still much smaller than the US, UK and other evolved markets. (For reference, the Indian legal market is only 0.3% of the USA legal market size). [1] LegalTech in India is evolving but is still in very nascent stages. Even though it has over 650 startups as per a 2022 report, the legaltech market size of India is only about 2.71% of the US market (USD 380 million against USD 14 billion). In fact, the number of startups is attributable to the expected consolidation in the market. [2] Even though the legaltech market in India is relatively small, the need for law firms and legal service providers to continue to adopt technology in the delivery of legal services continues to grow. Now, more than ever, the “more for less” challenge, i.e., clients expecting more value for money. In fact, with the speed of acceleration of technology, how and what legal services are delivered is constantly changing. However, despite this, there are very limited law firms in India that are actively looking at their digital transformation strategies or even investing in legal technology. 1.3. Challenges Faced by Law Firms in Adopting Legal Technology 1.3.1. Limited Awareness and Understanding Most lawyers tend to be very unaware of the technology that impacts how legal work is delivered – ranging from AI-assisted research to cloud-based case management. Further, misconceptions about legal tech's impact on practices further inhibit adoption. Contrary to the belief that technology will replace lawyers, it mainly enhances efficiency by automating routine tasks, allowing focus on more complex issues. This problem is amplified by the educational gap in India's legal curriculum. Most law schools in the country lack formal instruction on the business of law or the impact of technology on the legal industry. This leaves aspiring lawyers ill-equipped to navigate the digital transformation reshaping the sector. This gap underscores the urgent need for integrating legal tech education into law school curriculums, preparing the next generation of lawyers for a digitally advanced legal landscape. 1.3.2. Starting with Technology and not the People and Process At the other polar end of the spectrum, is the ideology that technology is a magic bullet that can fix everything. People involved in making decisions around technology and its implementation often start with technology – rather than fixing the underlying people’s expectations/behaviours and the process. Technology, when applied to a bad process, only allows you to do that bad process faster. 1.3.3. Atypical Constraints in India Lack of fundamental technology infrastructure India's legal services sector faces substantial infrastructure deficiencies hindering full technology transformation, particularly in the disputes sector. The focus of digitisation in courts has been on individual cases, without system-level oversight, with key data often not machine-readable and dispersed across various platforms . This lack of digitised data, coupled with insufficient software capabilities to automate legal processes, hampers the effective deployment of AI technologies, despite their potential for data abstraction and case analysis. This is important to understand since most Indian law firms (even those providing services even across transactions) likely have a sizeable team and a chunk of their revenue comes from their disputes and litigation practice. Limited LegalTech Ecosystem Despite the potential product-market fit, a vibrant startup ecosystem, and ample talent, the legal tech sector in India remains largely unexplored by venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) firms. This is primarily due to law firms' low technology adoption and investment, resulting in a constrained Total Addressable Market (TAM) for legal tech startups. Consequently, there has yet to be an IPO from any Indian legal tech venture, and acquisitions are notably absent. The total investment in the Indian LegalTech market is less than USD 70 million (compare this to investments of USD ~4400 million in the USA, USD 855 in Canada, and USD ~600 in the UK). [3] Financial considerations associated with investing in legal technology A key roadblock in India's legal tech adoption is the scarcity of products tailored to our local market. This results in inflated costs, aggravating the challenge. The issue is further compounded by the support, or the lack thereof, that barely aligns with our time zone. The irony isn't lost on us when we realize that even though the tech brains behind these tools might be our neighbours, we're navigating time zones to tap into their expertise. It's like embarking on a global expedition to access what lies across the road. 1.4. Strategies for Successful Adoption of Legal Technology 1.4.1. Empowered Leadership with a Dedicated Team Empowered leadership is integral to fostering technology adoption in law firms. Leaders who prioritize technological advancements and understand their transformative potential can drive a culture of innovation. Building a dedicated team focused on technology can be a game-changer. This team, ideally a blend of legal and technical expertise, can help bridge the gap between technology and traditional legal practices. 1.4.2. Assess the Firm’s Needs and Objectives It is frequently observed that digital adoption initiatives fail to scale or achieve their intended objectives due to a short-term perspective of the requirements. Additionally, it is all too common to witness these initiatives lose momentum midway through the project. The primary causes for these shortcomings tend to be a short-term outlook on the issue at hand and firms' attraction to new technologies for their 'novelty' rather than their long-term alignment with the firm's objectives and goals. 1.4.3. Develop a Technology Roadmap and Digital Transformation Strategy Cultivating a culture of innovation and technology necessitates adopting a long-term roadmap and digital transformation strategy. This strategy must scrutinize the firm's historical growth, and the challenges encountered – then formulate the plan based on these objectives. Undeniably, in this rapidly evolving world, businesses cannot afford to wait years to witness results. Therefore, it becomes increasingly crucial to devise a comprehensive strategy interspersed with short-term deliverables to continually assess the return on investments. In a country like India, where receptivity towards technology adoption is relatively low, these short-term deliverables can serve as a means to foster interest among lawyers. Another additional challenge arises when the firm's digital teams, if present, frequently find themselves engrossed in the demands and requests of their immediate functional areas, namely lawyers and business functions within the firm. The digital transformation strategy must always keep clients at the centre of everything. 1.4.4. Foster a Culture of Innovation and Technology Adoption While the acceptance of technology adoption in Indian firms may not parallel that of Western counterparts, there exists a cohort of young, tech-aware lawyers within these firms. Such individuals could be instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation and technology. Firms, such as Khaitan & Co., have instituted dedicated innovation functions, composed of lawyers and closely aligned with the technology department. This arrangement facilitates cross-learning and cultivates a culture of innovation that aligns with the specific needs of the lawyers. 1.4.5. Embrace Agile Implementation Methodology and continuously monitor progress An Agile methodology, characterized by flexibility and iterative progress, is conducive to the monitoring and realization of digital transformation objectives. Continuous monitoring is a sine qua non for ensuring that the transformation journey remains aligned with the firm's vision and adapts as per the evolving requirements. 1.4.6. Invest in Training and Change Management Programs In implementing a digital transformation initiative, people are the most critical and central component. It is paramount to have an ongoing training program that underscores the long-term objectives, changes in work methods, and the benefits derived from these changes. Since it is unrealistic to anticipate acceptance of these changes from the talent pool without their buy-in and a concerted effort towards training and change management initiatives. 1.4.7. Promote Cross-functional Team Collaboration Digital transformation initiatives have an enterprise-wide scope, making it imperative to include all functions and establish cross-functional teams for these initiatives. In a mid to large-sized firm, almost any project will interact with numerous people, systems, and processes. Consequently, instituting a mechanism enabling systematic collaboration among cross-functional teams is crucial (such as cross-functional team meetings, project management tools, proper communication platforms, defined roles and responsibilities, etc.). Such collaboration should be buttressed by well-documented processes and workflows, supported by systems designed to handle edge cases and interactions. 1.4.8. Collaborate with Legal Tech Startups and Providers Although India is a hotbed for technological innovation and startup ecosystems, progress in the legal tech arena remains significantly limited. This situation partly stems from the tepid interest of venture capitalists. However, a major factor is the low adoption rates by firms, as products do not meet the firms' 'exact' requirements. This challenge can be effectively addressed if law firms collaborate with startups to co-develop solutions or assist startups in tailoring their products to the firms' needs. Armed with the assurance of the firm being their first customer, startups would have both guidance and confidence to invest their resources in developing a product that meets the 'Product Market Fit' criteria right from the outset. 1.4.9. Target Quick Wins Securing quick wins is a strategic approach in any digital transformation journey. By identifying and targeting initiatives that can deliver tangible results in the short term, law firms can build momentum and foster a positive attitude towards change. These 'quick wins' might be as simple as automating a routine process, adopting a new collaboration tool, or improving the client onboarding experience through digital channels. These initial successes not only demonstrate the value of digital transformation but also help to create a culture of adaptability and innovation. Moreover, they can serve as a catalyst for more complex transformation efforts in the future, providing a strong foundation for continued digital evolution. 1.5. Conclusion Law firms stand to gain significantly from establishing a well-defined digital strategy and making judicious investments in technology. By embracing digital transformation, they can enhance their efficiency, streamline operations, and deliver more value to their clients. It is, however, critical for these firms to view technology not as an end, but as a means to achieve broader business objectives. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, those firms that adeptly navigate the digital frontier will be the ones poised to thrive in the future. Notes [1] See Beyond the Bench – Promise of Indian Legal Tech Startups, CIIE.CO Available at: (Accessed: 7 June 2023). [2] Ibid. [3] Data as of 2022. See Beyond the Bench – Promise of Indian Legal Tech Startups, CIIE.CO Available at: (Accessed: 7 June 2023). About the Authors Rohit Shukla (R) is the Chief Digital Officer at Khaitan & Co. Before joining the Firm, he was the Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of legal-tech start-up – Legitquest. Prior to that, he worked with LexisNexis where he led the legal research product launches for Southeast Asia countries. Before that, he spent time with technology organisations in India, USA and UK. Rohit completed his Master of Technology from IIT Bombay. He specialises in legal tech, digital transformation, technology product development, project management, and leveraging technology to bring cost and client service improvements to the business. Shreya Vajpei (L) is a member of the Innovation team at Khaitan & Co. She operates at the intersection of law, technology, and business. Her work focuses on identifying, building, and promoting better technology and process solutions with the aim of improving the practice of law. Her experience as a practicing lawyer adds depth and practical insight to her work. #RohitShukla #ShreyaVajpei #legaltech #India #digitalstrategy #digitaltransformation

  • How can legal representatives contribute to improving workplace environments?

    In modern workplaces, the significance of legal representatives cannot be overstated. These champions of the legal realm not only ensure that businesses remain on the right side of the law, but they also act as catalysts in cultivating environments brimming with respect, inclusivity, and safety. Serving as navigators, they bridge the gap between regulations and day-to-day business operations, steering organizations towards a harmonious blend of legal compliance and positive work culture. Here are a few ways they help. Ensuring Compliance with Employment Laws Every enterprise, big or small, finds itself in the maze of state and federal employment regulations. It’s the legal representatives who illuminate the path, keeping businesses informed and compliant with evolving legal standards. They delve deep into laws ranging from wage requirements to provisions against bias, offering clarity and actionable insights. This invaluable expertise doesn’t just help businesses avoid legal landmines, but it also shapes a workspace where every individual feels recognized, safeguarded, and provided with a level playing field to succeed. Addressing Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Legal representatives play a pivotal role in fostering respectful workplace dynamics. Through comprehensive workshops and training sessions, they enlighten employers about the nuances of workplace harassment and discrimination. They stress the absolute necessity of establishing a clear, zero-tolerance stance against any form of misconduct. Additionally, they work hand in hand with organizations to set up transparent channels, encouraging employees to come forward with grievances. This proactive approach not only ensures legal compliance but also cultivates an atmosphere where every employee feels safe and valued. Promoting Fair Compensation and Benefits Fair pay isn’t just an ethical standpoint; it’s a legal mandate. Legal representatives take the helm, guiding businesses through the labyrinth of wage laws and intricate regulations. With their keen expertise, they help organizations understand and comply with standards related to minimum wage, overtime, and other compensation nuances. Moreover, they champion the cause of equitable benefits and advancement opportunities, ensuring that every employee, irrespective of their background or role, gets a fair shot at success. Through their efforts, legal representatives lay down the foundation for businesses to flourish, driven by a motivated and fairly compensated workforce. Handling Emotional and Mental Well-being Many may want to sue employer for emotional distress due to poor treatment at the workplace. The answer lies within the scope of employment laws. Legal representatives elucidate the parameters surrounding such claims, helping both employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities. They champion the necessity of emotionally supportive workspaces, recognizing the profound impact on productivity and morale. When emotional distress claims arise, these legal professionals ensure fair representation and due diligence in the process. Implementing Flexible Work Arrangements The modern workplace is evolving, and with it, the need for adaptability. Legal representatives provide invaluable insights into crafting compliant flexible work schedules and remote work policies. They underscore the importance of work-life harmony, ensuring businesses accommodate specific needs without compromising legal standards. Through their guidance, organizations can strike a balance, offering employees the flexibility they crave while maintaining operational integrity. Protecting Employee Rights during Organizational Changes Navigating mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, or even restructuring is no simple feat. It’s during these transitions that employee rights can often be overshadowed by larger corporate objectives. Legal representatives step in as the guardians of these rights. Their expertise ensures that, even amidst organizational upheaval, every employee is treated with fairness and respect. By offering guidance, they ensure that legal obligations are met, and employee interests are safeguarded. Promoting Employee Training and Education Knowledge is power, especially in a workplace setting. Legal representatives emphasize the importance of enlightening employees about their rights, responsibilities, and workplace best practices. By championing comprehensive training programs, they help employers recognize the manifold advantages of a well-informed workforce, from reducing legal liabilities to fostering a more harmonious work environment. Informed employees not only understand their rights but also their responsibilities, creating a balanced and legally compliant workspace. The Evolving Landscape of Workplace Law Laws and regulations continuously adapt to address emerging challenges. Today’s legal representatives are at the forefront of pioneering shifts, tackling modern-day issues from the nuances of remote work to the intricacies of gig economy rights. They champion diversity and inclusion, ensuring workplaces aren’t just compliant, but also vibrant and equitable. For businesses, regular consultations with these legal experts aren’t just about risk management; they’re about embracing the future, staying relevant, and fostering a thriving, forward-thinking work environment. Recap Legal representatives stand at the forefront of ushering in transformative changes within workplaces. Their persistent advocacy not only upholds employee rights but also steers organizations toward evolving and refining workplace standards, ensuring a harmonious blend of compliance and care. They are indeed the unsung heroes of modern work culture.

  • Cultural Intelligence for AI Ethics in Business

    By Tatiana Caldas-Löttiger. Quote: “AI technology brings major benefits in many areas, but without the ethical guardrails, it risks reproducing real world biases and discrimination, fueling divisions and threatening fundamental human rights and freedoms.” Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for So cial and Human Sciences of UNESCO 1. Introduction Many have said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the last great human invention because AI will create a new form of discovery which in turn will create a new form of discoverer. This opens the possibilities for extreme good or extreme bad; the basic difference between the two is that one is ethical and the other one is not. Therefore, AI Ethics is the critical enabler of ethical AI because it will protect what it means to be human. This article will address one of the most common ethical challenges when it comes to developing Artificial Intelligence: BIASES - human and algorithmic-biases. In every organisation - particularly, large tech corporations and multinationals, people are expected to work harmoniously, but sometimes cultural differences can be a challenge for organisations with international teams and this is why Diversity & Inclusion policies are supposed to be implemented. However, when developing AI systems these Diversity & Inclusion programs and policies are not enough as those writing the algorithms should be subject to a higher standard not to perpetuate their biases upon the systems they help create. To actually understand someone's culture one has to be aware of one’s own identity to understand why we behave the way we do when interacting with people from other cultures, and learn about what triggers us to react in a certain way. We might have wrong ideas about our own identity, and it is not until we are exposed to other cultures that we discover who we really are. Our identity includes how we see and define ourselves and how others define us. This same concept can be applied to AI Ethics. To succeed in designing human-centric AI, it is vital to ensure diversity and fairness in data collection, algorithm design, and decision making. From the AI governance and organisational perspective, values and ethical principles are crucial for organisations to establish a framework to design human-centric AI. This is valuable not only from the ethical perspective but also from the business perspective. For instance, understanding customer’s cultural preferences may uncover why customers prefer one product over another, make certain decisions or demand certain services. The aim of this article is to explain the key role culture plays in ethics and how cultural awareness could mitigate algorithmic bias by applying Cultural Intelligence (CQ) in AI ethics. 2. Understanding AI Ethics & Cultural Intelligence What is AI Ethics? In general, AI ethics refers to the principles and guidelines that govern the ethical development and deployment of AI systems. It involves addressing concerns such as transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, and bias mitigation. Implementing ethical practices in AI is vital to maintain public trust, protect individuals' rights, and promote responsible innovation. As we will see in the following paragraphs, culture influences the behaviour of humans and determines their moral and ethical values. Therefore, there are over 400 ethical frameworks around the world and most of them include the principle of fairness and non-discrimination. According to the majority of these frameworks, AI algorithms should be designed and implemented in a way that prevents discrimination or bias based on personal characteristics such as gender, race, or age. For instance, The EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI, in chapter one states that “AI shall be based on an approach founded on fundamental rights, and identifies the ethical principles and their correlated values that must be respected in the development, deployment and use of AI systems in a way that adheres to the ethical principles of: a) respect for human autonomy, b) prevention of harm, c) fairness and explicability.”. Relevant to bias are the principle of fairness, which ensures that the AI model is fair towards everybody in particular, vulnerable groups that have historically been disadvantaged such as women and children, people of colour, neurodiverse persons and/or with disabilities as well as others who are at risk of exclusion, and in situations which are characterised by power, control of information, such as between employers and workers, or between businesses and consumers. Then, the principle of explicability ensures that AI models are explainable. For example, if an organisations gets a request from an end-user or an authority, that organisation should be able to explain the outcome and what data sets were used in order to curate that model, what methods, what expertise was the data lineage originally associated with, including the capability to explain how that model was trained to explain the outcome. What is Cultural Intelligence (CQ)? In general, Culture Intelligence (CQ) is the ability to understand and navigate cultural differences effectively. In the corporate world, it is widely acknowledged that culture has been identified as an often-overlooked barrier. For example, lawyers are expected to act in the most ethical way possible and to observe the law. But what happens when due to cultural differences what is considered morally and ethically acceptable for one legal counsel during a negotiation is not acceptable for the opposing counsel? One party might say no deal, and that would be the end of it. Another approach could be using persuasion based on empathy. 3. The Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Theory & Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Geert Hofstede (1928-2020) is a Dutch academic who has become known for pioneering research on national and organisational cultures. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, is a framework used to understand the differences in culture across countries and to discern the ways that business is done across different cultures. In other words, the framework is used to distinguish between different national cultures, the dimensions of culture, and assess their impact on a business setting. Hofstede originally identified four dimensions for defining work-related values associated with national culture: power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity. A fifth dimension, long term orientation and a sixth dimension, indulgence versus restraint were added later. At a very high level one could say that, power distance is correlated with power and the use of violence in domestic politics and with income inequality in certain countries; uncertainty avoidance is associated with Roman Catholicism and with legal obligation in developed countries; individualism is correlated with national wealth and with mobility between social classes from one generation to the next; masculinity is correlated negatively with the percent of women in democratically elected governments; long-term orientation is correlated with school results in international comparisons and indulgence is correlated with sexual freedom and a call for Human Rights like free expression of opinions. The following are some examples to illustrate how to navigate the dimension of Power Distance. As an example, we will use two regions with similar cultures: Latin American and Nordic countries. In terms of hierarchy and status, egalitarianism is the most dominant social value in the Nordic countries; consensus and compromise are ingrained in business and social life. In Sweden, there is a lack of outward signs of hierarchy and status, as opposed to other cultures, like in Latin-America, for example, where hierarchy and status are very prevalent. Most of the Latin societies are highly structured, and pay great attention to professional degrees, occupation, and social status, which may well also be a reflection of their need for certainty rather than power distance. In terms of communication styles during meetings, the communication style in some countries is direct and open. Swedes, for example, tend to keep their distance when conversing and in general think that small talk is unnecessary and awkward, so they avoid engaging in conversations with strangers or acquaintances; being able to manage on your own is looked upon with both deep respect and admiration. Even before the pandemic, social distancing was the norm in Swedish society, so there was no need to reinforce it during Covid-19. That is the reason why it is common for Swedes to avoid noisy surroundings and seek silence in nature. In contrast, this could come across as abrupt in Latin America; for example, jumping right into a meeting without any small talk can be seen as rude. Long handshakes and embracing, is also quite common, and normally, at each negotiation, friendships are established. While in the Nordics, it is customary to address a person by the first name, the opposite happens in Latin American countries, where calling someone by their first name (unless invited to do so) is considered a lack of good manners; it could create confusion and can lead to misrepresentations, if by chance two people have the same name but hold different positions. Thus, courtesy titles and full names and last names are the norm. 3.2. Uncertainty Avoidance Dimension, refers to high uncertainty avoidance vs. low uncertainty avoidance. The Hofstede analysis suggests that the Latin Europe and Latin American legal systems are a typical case of “high uncertainty avoidance”, where people prefer explicit rules (e.g., about law and religion) and formally structured activities, and employees tend to remain longer with their employers. Most of these countries have a legal system based on Civil law, also known as Continental law, which is in turn based on Roman tradition, and is the predominant system of law in the world. Latin America has one of the most unified legal systems in the world, where legal and academic opinions are very important sources in the making and interpretation of the laws, but are not of obligatory observance. Instead, several codes of law set out the main principles that guide the law. One could say that, when negotiating with lawyers and clients from Latin America, one would have to prepare much documentation to increase their trust. And since their legal system is codified, one should also make references to their codes of law and be mindful that providing only jurisprudence and academic opinions might increase their uncertainty and delay the process, as these are not of obligatory observance. Thus, it is best to provide specific rules and structures, recognize Latinos their need for information and provide lots of supporting data. Also, if appropriate, provide examples of others who have used the approach successfully, and focus on compliance with procedures and policies. On the contrary, cultures with “low uncertainty avoidance” like the Swedish culture, people have trust in the regulatory systems and prefer consensus over confrontation. Swedes also prefer implicit or flexible rules or guidelines (like with the handling of Covid-19). However, the global digital economy is affecting this dimension. In 2019, Swedbank, one of the largest banks in Sweden was fined by the Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) with a record 386 million dollars over the Baltic money-laundering breaches from mostly Russian non-residents through Estonia from 2010 to 2016. According to the FSA; “The bank's awareness of the risk of money laundering and its processes, routines and control systems were insufficient”. Many critics have said that personal trust was a gross breach of the bank's Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures. 4. How to Apply Cultural Intelligence (CQ) in AI Ethics? At a very high level, Cultural Intelligence (CQ) could be applied in AI Ethics through the following approaches: a) Cultural Contextualization: By understanding different cultural contexts, businesses can tailor their AI systems to align with specific societal norms and values. This ensures that AI technologies respect cultural sensitivities and avoid generating biassed or offensive outputs. b) Bias Detection and Mitigation: CQ can help identify biases embedded within AI algorithms by considering cultural nuances. By incorporating diverse datasets and involving individuals with different backgrounds during the training phase, businesses can reduce bias and enhance fairness in AI decision-making processes. c) Ethical Decision-Making: CQ can provide businesses with the necessary insights to address ethical dilemmas and make ethical decisions regarding AI development and deployment in complex cultural landscapes by considering cultural implications and societal expectations. d) Acknowledgment of other Values. The transfer of AI Western values to the East, for example, can be inappropriate and even unethical. Corporate culture and management practices as well as AI development may need modifying to suit local conditions. Conclusion In conclusion, when we interact and communicate, we will always have biases. As seen in the Hofstede model, cultures influence the behaviour of humans and determine their moral and ethical values. One could reckon AI Ethics need a Culture-driven approach, which means that organisations shall move towards implementing Cross-Cultural AI Ethics Frameworks, and avoid generalisations. For instance, the transfer of AI Western values to the East and other regions of the world should be considered inappropriate, and corporate culture, management practices and AI-solutions may need modifying to suit local conditions. One question that remains is if organisations have the proper AI-talent? Finding people who are culturally aware and can swiftly adapt to working with international and diverse teams is a major challenge. For example, when hiring C-suite executives and lawyers, business leaders need to be mindful of retaining talent that is knowledgeable and empathetic as they must be able to work cross-functionally and collaborate with different departments, particularly with data scientists, software developers, Research & Development, etc. Sources used in this article: Source: Conversation with Bing, 24/07/2023 (1) AI Ethics: What It Is And Why It Matters - Forbes. (2) Ethics of Artificial Intelligence | UNESCO. Responsible AI Institute Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI file:///Users/Tatiana/Downloads/ai_hleg_ethics_guidelines_for_trustworthy_ai-en_87F84A41-A6E8-F38C-BFF661481B40077B_60419.pdf The AI Act is available at: European Commission (High Level Group on Artificial Intelligence) Google AI Principles Hofstede Dimensions About the Author Tatiana Caldas-Löttiger is an international business lawyer with a Masters in European Law from Stockholm University, another LL.M in International Business & Trade Law from Chicago USA, and a J.D from Bogota, Colombia. A legal futurist and AI Ethics Advisor. She works in the intersection between law, technology and regulatory affairs within the telecom/IT law/AI industry, with solid experience in GDPR Regulatory Compliance, Ethical AI and Data Privacy & Security. Tatiana is the founding president of International Women In Business and IWIBI4AI, and ambassador and contributor at the Liquid Legal Institute, a global think-tank designing the future of law. Member of the International Association of Risk and Compliance Professionals (IARCP). Tatiana has been a regular speaker on the topic of AI Ethics and regulatory aspects of AI since 2015. #TatianaCaldasLöttiger #AI #biases #ethics #culturalintelligence #values

  • Shattering the Glass Ceiling: How Salary Transparency Strengthens the Legal Profession

    By Tom Stephenson. The lack of salary transparency has been a long-standing issue in the legal profession. This obscurity not only hampers the growth of professionals but also perpetuates disparities in pay. It's high time we come together to shatter this glass ceiling, fostering an era of transparency and equity that strengthens our community. Persistent Pay Disparities and the Power of Real-Time Compensation Data The legal profession is not exempt from pay disparities. A study by Payscale in 2023 revealed that a significant salary discrepancy could hinder their professional growth or trajectory when people are in the dark about total compensation. This lack of transparency often leads to a wide pay gap, which can be detrimental to the morale and productivity of professionals. These disparities are not just numbers on a page; they have real-world consequences. They can lead to disillusionment and frustration among professionals who feel they must be fairly compensated. Over time, this can lead to decreased productivity, lower job satisfaction, and even increased turnover rates. Moreover, these disparities can also hurt the diversity of the legal profession. When certain groups are consistently paid less than others, it sends a message that their contributions are not as valued. This can discourage individuals from these groups from pursuing careers in the legal profession, leading to a less diverse and inclusive industry. Real-time compensation data can play a pivotal role in addressing these disparities. Providing an accurate and up-to-date overview of salary trends empowers professionals to negotiate their worth effectively. Moreover, it enables organizations to benchmark their compensation packages against industry standards, ensuring they remain competitive and fair. But real-time compensation data's power goes beyond individual negotiations and organizational decisions. It can also help to shift the broader conversation around pay in the legal profession. By making this data readily available, we can break down the stigma around discussing salaries and encourage more open and honest conversations about pay equity. Cultivating Community: Fostering Growth, Equity, and Inclusion Within the in-house legal community, fostering a sense of unity is paramount. The belief in the power of collaboration and continuous learning drives us to create an extensive network of legal professionals. Together, we strive to establish more equitable and inclusive legal practices by embracing diversity. Community is more than just a buzzword; it's a powerful force for change. When we come together as a community, we can share our experiences, learn from each other, and work together to tackle our challenges. In the context of salary transparency, this means sharing our salary data, discussing our experiences with pay negotiations, and supporting each other to achieve pay equity. As we harness the power of community, it becomes imperative to address issues that have long been kept in the shadows - one such issue being salary transparency. Through a united front, the in-house legal community can foster an environment where discussions about salaries are not taboo but are seen as essential for the growth and well-being of professionals. Such openness is not just empowering on an individual level but is crucial for building a foundation of fairness and inclusion within the profession. This is particularly salient for legal operations professionals, who are at the forefront of a rapidly evolving field. Addressing Salary Transparency for In-House Legal Professionals While the need for salary transparency is a universal issue in the legal profession, it holds particular relevance for the legal operations community. As a rapidly evolving field, legal operations professionals often find themselves in uncharted territory when determining fair compensation. The need for established benchmarks and the wide variety of roles and responsibilities within the field can make it difficult to determine what constitutes fair pay. By providing access to real-time compensation data, legal operations professionals can better understand their market value and negotiate their salaries more effectively. This data can provide valuable insights into market rates, helping organizations attract and retain top talent in this competitive field. Moreover, the legal operations community, focusing on efficiency and innovation, is uniquely positioned to promote salary transparency. By embracing transparency and equity in compensation, legal operations professionals can set a positive example for the rest of the legal profession. Conclusion The need for salary transparency in the legal profession is long overdue. By shattering the glass ceiling, we can promote equity, foster talent retention, and strengthen our community. It's time we embrace transparency and fairness in compensation for the betterment of our professionals and the industry. The legal profession stands at a crossroads. We can continue down the path of secrecy and disparity or choose the path of transparency, equity, and inclusion. The choice is clear with the power of community and the right tools. It's time to shatter the glass ceiling and take a significant step toward a more equitable and inclusive legal profession. About the Author Tom Stephenson is the VP of Community & Legal Operations at, the fastest-growing legal talent and community marketplace. His experience leading legal operations at Credit Karma and Teladoc Health, coupled with a decade-long tenure in law firms, has equipped Tom with a deep understanding of the legal profession. At, Tom is pioneering change through partnerships for the community that fosters continuous learning, collaboration, and career advancement. #TomStephenson #salary #transparency #equity #inclusion #legalprofession

  • The perk paradox: How superficial benefits can undermine motivation

    By Eve Vlemincx. Introduction In today's competitive job market, firms are constantly vying to attract and retain top talent. To achieve this, many organizations have turned to the enticing world of workplace perks. From gourmet snacks and flexible schedules to game rooms and pet-friendly policies, these benefits are often seen as a surefire way to boost associate motivation and engagement. However, there's a paradox at play. While perks may initially seem like a valuable incentive, they can inadvertently become the enemy of true motivation, creating a superficial façade that masks deeper issues... The perk mirage Perks, on the surface, seem like a win-win solution. Associates get to enjoy appealing extras, and firms appear more attractive to potential hires. But this veneer can hide a crucial truth: relying solely on perks to motivate people can have a detrimental impact in the long run. Short-Term gratification: Perks offer immediate gratification. People might appreciate the in-office yoga classes or the gourmet coffee, but these short-term pleasures do not address the underlying factors that drive motivation over the long haul. Distraction from intrinsic motivation: Perks can distract people from intrinsic motivations that are far more influential. Factors such as a sense of purpose, professional growth opportunities, and a clear career path are a greater sway over job satisfaction. The perk honeymoon effect: The initial allure of perks can create a "honeymoon period" where people are excited about the job simply because of the perks. Do you like the job or the perks? It can blindsight them. This perk enthusiasm can quickly wane if deeper motivations and career aspirations are not met. The Motivation behind motivation “Do you want your people to be comfortable or to feel alive?” To understand why perks can be the enemy of motivation, it's crucial to explore what truly motivates people. Intrinsic motivation: People are most motivated when they find their work inherently meaningful and fulfilling. A sense of purpose, mastery of their craft and autonomy over their tasks are powerful drivers of job satisfaction. Long-Term engagement: Sustainable engagement is not achieved through superficial benefits. It thrives in an environment that encourages professional development, acknowledges individual contributions, and fosters a sense of belonging. Compensation vs. Perks: While perks can enhance the overall work experience, fair compensation remains a foundation for motivation. People must feel valued and a fair compensation is inevitably part of that. The peril of perks “the answer is the misfortune of the question” As long as we focus our conversations solely or mainly on the perks we will never be able to increase employee engagement and lower burnout figures. The peril of overemphasizing perks is twofold: Perks can mask problems: When organizations focus excessively on perks, they may inadvertently ignore deeper issues within the workplace, such as poor management, inadequate career growth opportunities or a lack of alignment with values and goals. Short-lived satisfaction: Perks offer a fleeting sense of satisfaction, often dissipating quickly. What initially drew people to a job may not be enough to keep them engaged and motivated over time. Conclusion While perks can add some value to the workplace and contribute to a positive experience, they should not be the primary driver of motivation and engagement. Relying solely on superficial benefits can create a deceptive façade that conceals deeper issues and ultimately leads to a workforce that lacks true motivation. To cultivate a motivated and engaged workforce, organizations must invest in a more holistic approach, addressing intrinsic motivations, providing opportunities for growth, fostering a sense of purpose, and ensuring fair compensation. By understanding the limits of perks and embracing a more comprehensive strategy, companies can unlock the full potential of their employees and create a workplace that inspires genuine, long-term motivation. About the Author Eve Vlemincx is a strategic advisor with expertise in a wide array of areas including legal digital transformation, innovation and leadership. She serves as an advisory council member for Harvard Business Review and is a Course Facilitator at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Eve is highly sought after as a keynote speaker and guest lecturer in various professional settings. Notably, she has been honored as a five-time recipient of the Stanford GSB LEAD Award. Operating at the dynamic intersection of legal and business, Eve holds certifications from esteemed institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Kellogg and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Additionally, she brings substantial experience as a seasoned lawyer specializing in corporate law and restructurings. Eve's guiding philosophy is centered on working smarter, not harder, as she helps individuals and organizations navigate the complexities of today's rapidly evolving landscape. #EveVlemincx #legalbusiness #perks #recruitment #talent #motivation #engagement #HRM

  • Living in a VUCA World

    By Marco Imperiale If I were to choose a word to describe the world we live in, I would go for VUCA. This acronym, which stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, represents quite accurately the world we inhabit today[1]. The concept was firstly developed by professors Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their book “Leaders. The strategies for Taking Change”[2]; later, it spread in the military industry and gained significant traction in the business and leadership context[3]. It is mostly used to describe the challenges and conditions that organizations, leaders, and individuals face in our rapidly changing and unpredictable world. From geopolitical tensions to climate crisis, from reverse mentoring to exponential innovation, from artificial intelligence to new paradigms for the society we live in, most aspects of our lives are affected by a constant spiral of change. In this article, I will discuss what this acronym means and why it is important for the legal profession, providing practical takeaways in order to face these challenges (or at least limit the damages). Each Letter Has a Meaning Each aspect of the VUCA acronym requires thorough analysis: V means Volatility. Volatility refers to the nature and dynamics of change, signifying the speed and unpredictability with which situations, markets, or environments can shift. Volatile conditions can lead to sudden disruptions, requiring organizations and leaders to be flexible and agile in decision-making. U means Uncertainty. Uncertainty relates to the lack of predictability and clarity about future events or outcomes. In VUCA environments, forecasting or anticipating events is limited, making planning and strategizing more challenging, and requiring more adaptability. C means Complexity. Complexity encompasses the intricacy and interdependence of various factors within a system. In VUCA situations, issues can be multifaceted and difficult to fully comprehend. They demand a systemic approach and deeper understanding of relationships between components. A means Ambiguity. Ambiguity involves the haziness or multiple interpretations of information and events. VUCA environments often lack clear cause-and-effect relationships, making interpretation and confident decision-making difficult. Leaders must operate with incomplete data and take calculated risks. VUCA and the Legal Profession How would the VUCA concept resonate in the legal market and in the legal profession? Providing a clear answer is not easy, also because the four concepts tend to overlap. A regulatory change impacts volatility or complexity? The management of policies for Gen Z professionals relates to uncertainty or ambiguity? And what about technological innovation? In this analysis, I tried to notice three ways each factor impacts the legal scenario. Volatility Rapid Advancements. In a world where technological advancements occur at a breakneck pace, legal professionals must stay abreast of new developments. This may include understanding new technologies that influence laws or regulations, such as blockchain, cybersecurity, or data governance, but also taking into account how technology impacts current practices (from m&a to banking and finance or litigation). Different Clients’ Preferences. Clients' expectations are evolving rapidly. They demand more transparent, efficient, and personalized legal services, and they are more interested in the processes that lead to legal advice. Adapting to these preferences requires an agile approach and may involve leveraging technology to provide more accessible and client-centric services. Stagnation without Innovation. In such a volatile environment, there are consequence also for lawyers and law firms that do not innovate, who may find themselves falling behind. Stagnation can lead to loss of clients, decreased relevance in the market, and ultimately, a decline in business. Uncertainty An Evolving Regulatory Scenario. The legal landscape is often affected by changing regulations and laws. For instance, new regulations around AI, antitrust laws, or environmental protections may create a shifting terrain that requires constant vigilance and adaptability. However, legal updates are way more and way faster than in the past, and fear of missing out is becoming a constant despite the practice. Unpredictable Factors. Beyond regulation, there are other unpredictable factors, such as political changes, economic fluctuations, and social dynamics, which can lead to massive uncertainty. This requires legal professionals to have a broad understanding of various fields and to be prepared to respond swiftly to unexpected changes. Fierce Competition. The legal market is becoming increasingly competitive, and the competition is not only related to law firms. Whether it is alternative legal service providers, a.i. platforms, or other technological solutions, the market we know is evolving rapidly and, most of the times, differently than the way we expect. Complexity Intricate Problems. Modern legal problems can be highly complex, often involving multiple jurisdictions, intricate contractual obligations, or sophisticated relationship among parties. On the other hand, we are required to provide our advice in a fast-paced scenario, leveraging on our deep knowledge base, strong analytical skills, and the ability to synthesize large amounts of information quickly. Interdisciplinarity. VUCA times demand a multi-disciplinary approach. This – most of the times, does not mean only different lawyers working together, but also a collaboration with experts in other fields (such as engineers, software developers, designers, economists, psychologists, etc.) Merging tendency. It is noticeable in the market a relevant shift towards merging – whether it is two big law firms, several professionals combining different practices, or a solo practitioner looking for a full-service to join. The main reason of this trend is facing complex scenarios with interdisciplinary teams – benefitting on different backgrounds, methods of operation, and points of view on specific projects. Ambiguity Blurriness. Ambiguity in the legal context may come from vague laws, conflicting precedents, or unclear client expectations. Legal professionals must have the ability to interpret unclear or contradictory information, and adapt their strategies accordingly. Different interpretations. Laws and regulations can sometimes be open to multiple interpretations as well. This requires a nuanced understanding, strong critical thinking skills, and the ability to navigate and argue various interpretations to serve the client's interests best. Unclear Data. In some cases, the information available may be incomplete or conflicting. Legal professionals must develop the skills to work with imperfect data, make reasoned judgments, and be prepared to pivot as new information becomes available. How to face a VUCA world Facing the challenges of VUCA requires different skills and approaches than those needed in traditional stable environments. Lawyers and in-house counsels must cultivate adaptability, resilience, creativity, and learn from failures. Strategies should be flexible, iterative, and decision-making distributed across various organizational levels to respond effectively to change. I tried to analyze the single elements of the VUCA acronym, identifying three simple strategies for each one. To face volatility Invest in habits. More than developing a goal-oriented mindset, we should work with a habit mindset, which tend to be more reliable, and trackable[4]. Habits can relate to everything, from the way we reply to emails, to the way we organize meetings or answer to client’s request of advice. The more we will be able to have a habit-oriented mindset, the more we will be balanced in an unbalanced world. Analyze what is not going to change. We tend to focus about the aspects that are going to change, but the ones that are not going to change are equally important. What are the things that are not going to change in our profession or firm in a 1, 3, 10 year timeframe? Foster a culture of innovation. We should encourage professionals, business services, and partners to be agile and adaptable, whether investing in research, promoting internal and external flexibility, or constantly adapting to different situation. Only this way we can stay ahead of competitors and swiftly respond to market shifts. To face uncertainty Invest on processes. I am aware of the fact that lawyers tend not to be process oriented, but the more we can stress the process part, the more we will be able to limit the impact of uncertainty. Processes can help us analyzing deeply our strong assets, intervene on our weaknesses, and – more in general – adopt a more kpi/roi oriented approach. Develop better market research and customer insights. Market research and client feedback can help us gaining insights into changing preferences and emerging trends, allowing us to face client demand in a tailored way. How much do we know about our clients and our markets? Are we spreading the knowledge we have in a homogenous way in our firm? Can we understand not only the services that the clients ask for, but the ones that they really need? Plan different scenarios. Flexible planning, e.g. developing multiple scenarios for potential outcomes and responses, will help us adjust strategies based on emerging information and market dynamics. Maybe we are used to make a budget for the incoming year, which includes potential revenues and cash-flow analysis. How about making three instead of 1, such as worse case scenario, reasonable scenario, and best-case scenario? To face complexity Invest in simplicity. Leonardo da Vinci used to say that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, underlying the difficulty of simple processes. Whether it is internal meetings, the management of multiple tasks, or the way we show our associates how to face a specific matter, if there’s one way to do things in an easier way, we should be able to promote it and implement it. Enhance collaboration among departments and professionals. As identified by Heidi Gardner in her two books: “Smart Collaboration” and “Smarter Collaboration”[5] collaboration between departments and experts from different domains to tackle complex challenges will have a positive impact on both kpis and rois. On the other hand, we should take into account that- while collaboration is a significant pro, it is also harder to achieve than we think. Smart collaboration means dedicated resources, openness to negative feedback, and difficult conversations. Learn to prototype. Learning how to prototype solutions and models is a very useful tool in order to challenge complexity. Prototyping can tell us in a faster time which approach works and which doesn’t, what are the strategies that can be successful, and what are the internal and external reactions to our work. To face ambiguity Embrace clear communication. Clear communication within teams and organizations is a great way to reduce ambiguity and misunderstandings. For example, a partner might conduct regular meetings to clarify objectives and expectations with team members. Or we can organize a follow-up session after the deal to notice the what has worked well and develop/share best practices within our team. Learn how to fail. Encouraging a culture of experimentation and continuous learning means also implementing a "fail fast, learn fast" approach, where teams are encouraged to experiment with new technologies and learn from both successes and failures. We cannot expect every project or lateral hiring to be successful, but we can work to promote a culture where failure is an added value, and not something to be afraid of. Prioritize Ethical Decision-making, In ambiguous situations, we should prioritize ethical decision-making to maintain integrity and trust. We could establish Ethical Guidelines, or a Code of Values, to address gray areas and ensure compliance with legal and ethical standards. Maybe we can promote a reflection regarding our values and our purpose as professionals and as firm. In times of ambiguity, investing on values is always a safe bet. Conclusions VUCA elements permeate various aspects of both business and legal industries. Embracing these challenges - continuously adopting new strategies - is key to navigating the complexities and uncertainties effectively. On the other hand, we should remember that our clients are impacted by VUCA times as well. For this reason, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations can offer opportunities to develop collaborations and work together on exciting tasks and projects. Facing VUCA times require proactive measures, open-mindedness, and adaptability. However, by implementing effective strategies, law firms, in-house department, and professionals can position themselves to thrive in dynamic and unpredictable environments. As I tend to say, maybe because of my Italian background, the glass is half-full. This is an exciting moment to be a lawyer, and the VUCA scenario offers new opportunities for both old and new generations. Will we be able to ride the tiger? Notes [1] Levent Işıklıgöz proposed to change the "C" of VUCA from Complexity to Chaos, arguing that it is more suitable according to our era [2] New York: Harper & Row, 1985 [3] Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, developed an acronym to represent a leadership response to VUCA: which he calls VUCA 2.0. V stands for Vision, U for Understanding, C for Courage and A for Adaptability [4] For an interesting perspective about habits, I would suggest Charles Duhigg’s book “The power of Habit” (Random House, 2012) [5] H. Gardner “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos”, HBR Press, 2017; H. Garder, I. Matviak, “Smarter Collaboration. A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work”, HBR Press, 2022 About the Author Marco is the founder and managing director of Better Ipsum, a consultancy focused on legal design, legal innovation, and legal well-being. He is also a frequent keynote speaker (100+ national and international events). A true legal design and innovation pioneer, Marco wrote (with Barbara de Muro) the first Italian book on legal design and lectured the course on legal design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. At Harvard, where he graduated as Fulbright Scholar, he also worked as visiting researcher. #MarcoImperiale #vuca #complex #uncertainty #unpredictable #strategy #legal

  • Clientele and Reputation: How Law Firm Image Attracts Top Legal Talent

    Austin, Texas, is home to numerous law firms, ranging from boutique practices to large, full-service firms. These firms cater to a diverse clientele, including local startups, tech giants, and various multi-million dollar corporations that contribute to Texas’s economic vibrancy. To be able to win big clients, every law firm wants to have a good reputation for winning cases and providing stellar legal services. And to deliver such quality, the firm must have top legal talents working behind it. In essence, law firms must strive to attract top legal talents if they wish to work with the biggest clients. But it is a vicious cycle—well, in the positive sense. If your law firm is known for working with high-profile clients, it boosts your reputation and makes your firm attractive to top talents. The Benefits of Serving Prestigious Clients Prestigious clients are often well-known corporations, Fortune 500 companies, high-net-worth individuals, or influential organizations. Association with such prestigious clients can significantly enhance a law firm's reputation in the legal industry by bringing the following to the table: 1. Prestige and influence 2. Complex and high-profile cases 3. Networking opportunities Reputation as a Talent Magnet A good reputation can act as a magnet for top legal talent, while a negative one can deter potential candidates. Let's explore how a law firm's reputation influences the decision-making process of legal professionals. 1. Credibility and Trustworthiness As the state's capital and a thriving technology and business hub, Austin has become a hotspot for legal professionals. But no big talent wants to swim in a small river; they are on the lookout for big law firms in Austin with a strong reputation, an environment that can foster their career growth. They search for law firms with a commendable track record of success, ethical practices, and client satisfaction. Legal professionals are drawn to firms that uphold high ethical values and integrity. And of course, a positive reputation in this regard can signal a commitment to ethical practices, which is essential for both attorneys and clients. 2. Work-Life Balance and Firm Culture A positive reputation can also reflect a law firm's commitment to work-life balance and a healthy firm culture. Attorneys seek environments where they can thrive professionally while maintaining a reasonable work-life balance. Big law firms with reputations for employee satisfaction are more likely to attract these top talents. 3. Professional Development The best legal professionals are often on a continuous quest for growth and learning. Law firms known for their commitment to professional development, mentorship programs, and opportunities for advancement are highly appealing to ambitious attorneys. The Role of Marketing and Branding A law firm's image, which is closely tied to its clientele and reputation, is shaped by effective marketing and branding efforts. Let's examine how these factors contribute to attracting the best legal team. 1. Branding Consistency Consistency in branding, including a professional website, well-designed marketing materials, and a strong online presence, conveys a law firm's commitment to excellence. This consistency reinforces the firm's image as a reputable and reliable place to work. 2. Thought Leadership Law firms that engage in thought leadership activities, such as publishing articles, giving talks, and participating in legal discussions, are often seen as leaders in their field. Lawyers looking to get hired are naturally attracted to firms at the forefront of legal developments. 3. Employee Testimonials Employee testimonials and reviews on platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor can significantly influence potential candidates. Positive testimonials from current and former employees can reinforce the law firm's image as a great place to work. Strategies for Building a Positive Image To attract top legal talent through clientele and reputation, law firms can adopt the following strategies: 1. Selective Clientele Knowing how your clientele impacts your law firm’s reputation, you have to carefully curate your client base to include prestigious clients known for their excellence and high standards. 2. Commit to Excellence Maintain a commitment to excellence in legal practice, ethical standards, and client service. When your firm is known for excellence all around, it becomes a magnet for top legal talents and big-time clients. 3. Invest in Professional Development Since the best attorneys want to be in a firm conducive to their professional growth, you ideally should create a culture of continuous learning and professional development to demonstrate the firm's dedication to its attorneys' growth. 4. Showcase Success Stories Highlight successful cases, client testimonials, and employee success stories on the firm's website and marketing materials. Showcases everything that puts your firm in a positive light in the public. 5. Foster a Positive Work Environment Promote a positive work environment that values work-life balance, diversity, and inclusion. Ensure you mention them in your job descriptions, as many professionals look out for these attributes. 6. Engage in Thought Leadership As mentioned, being a thought leader bolsters your reputation. So, encourage attorneys to engage in writing articles, giving presentations, and participating in legal associations in order to position your firm as a thought leader in the legal industry. The Bottom Line Prestigious clients and a positive reputation help to draw in the best attorneys who seek challenging work, professional growth, and a supportive work environment. And when you have the best talents in your service, you produce the best results for clients, thereby attracting even higher-profile clients. It’s a continuous journey of growth and achievement for you. So, commit to excellence, curate your clientele, and invest in branding and marketing efforts to position your law firm as a thought leader in the competitive Austin legal industry.

  • A (Law) Firm Foundation: How Addressing Mental Health in Law Offices Leads to Corporate Success

    By Elizabeth C. Ortega & Fernando Garcia Two colleagues share an elevator ride up to the penthouse of their office building. She says, “Good morning.” He nods her way in response, and they lapse into silence. He’s trying to shake off the grogginess from a week of late nights as he prepares for trial. She’s silently replaying the argument she had with her partner at breakfast…again. The elevator stops, and before the door opens, they both take a deep breath, pull their shoulders back, and paste on a smile. Just like every other young lawyer in this firm, they’ve learned to check themselves at the door. There is only one option if they want to achieve partnership one day…execute. And so they will, all the while carefully concealing the warning signs of increasing mental distress. Beyond the individual, the impact of mental health on the economy and employers is staggering. In the United States, $200 billion is spent annually on mental health issues. This outweighs the costs of heart disease and cancer. Alcohol abuse is costing employers $249 billion annually. In Canada, with about a tenth of the population of the United States, the economic cost of mental illness is estimated to be over $50 billion per year and in any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental illness. As noted by the World Health Organization, the “consequences of mental health problems in the workplace include increased physical health problems, increased absenteeism, reduction of productivity, increased errors, loss of motivation, high turnover, and conflicts among colleagues,” among other issues. When burned out employees have to be replaced, the cost to the company is estimated to be at least 50% more than intervening on behalf of the distressed employee. For more than thirty years, the demanding, results-oriented culture of law firms has been the subject of mental health studies in the USA and Canada, yet little has been done to change the culture of the business of law.. The general populace experiences major depressive disorder (MDD) at an estimated rate of 3-5%, yet among law firms, it affects two-to-three times as many. The 2016 Krill Study on mental health in the legal profession revealed 28.3% of lawyers suffered from depression, 19.3% from anxiety, and 45.7% have experienced depression at some part of their careers. This is consistent with 70% of lawyers developing alcohol issues over the course of their careers. Facing the culture In order to understand the “how come” behind these statistics, the law firm culture must be considered. The standard assessment measure for lawyers is billable hours. While this is a very convenient- and easily measured approach, it has an adverse impact on lawyers. Annual minimums of 1800 or even 2200 billable hours depend on 36-44 billable hours a week. To achieve this rate, lawyers can expect to work 49-61 hours per week…and these are minimum standards. Those wishing to advance are expected to contribute much more to the firm’s success. There is no reward for efficiency and productivity in completing tasks. There is no reward for working smarter, not harder and longer. Where atomism, the belief that society is comprised of self-sufficient individuals motivated by their own interests, is the prevailing assumption, lawyers must fight, strategize, and compete against each other to get ahead. Weakness cannot be shown, and human limitations, such as the need for regular sleep, authentic relationships, decompression, family time, and work-life balance are perceived as weaknesses. The decay in mental and emotional health these pressures and expectations create remains the elephant in the room in most practices. “Sure, everyone knows lawyers that drink too much…but I can’t admit that I’m one of them.” Yes, we know that lawyers battle anxiety and depression. Of course they do. This is part of the price of pursuing this career. “But I can handle it… and I’d better, or I’ll be passed over for the challenging and rewarding assignments, for the promotion, or worse.” An Am Law 200 survey reported that 75% of lawyers perceive a prevailing stigma against anxiety, 81% against depression, and 94% against substance abuse. So lawyers suffer in silence and alone. Affecting change one person and one relationship at a time It’s time to challenge the status quo. The enduring success and evolution of the legal profession depends upon it. This is how we invite change. Those suffering from mental illness and dangerous coping strategies need allies who will use their voices and their actions to provide strength and support. Allyship means working proactively to destigmatize mental illness and challenging the prevailing competitive culture to create a healthier work environment. It’s leadership by example, education, and advocacy. Take a moment to take stock of your own assumptions about mental illness. Do you see it as a weakness? Shameful? Challenge these assumptions and learn the truth. Evaluate your own experiences and behaviors regarding mental health. Are you projecting an image of cool confidence, yet your personal life is crumbling around you and you can’t remember the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Learn to identify the warning signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety in yourself and others, and, when you recognize them, don’t wait to seek help. When you see colleagues suffering, step in on their behalf. Provide a safe space to talk and respond with respect and concern. Speak up about your own mental health journey. One person’s choice to lead the way into authenticity opens the door for other colleagues to bring themselves unprejudiced into the workplace. At the corporate level The bottom line? Lawyers cannot afford to ignore the fact that mental health impacts their bottom line as much, if not more, than billable hours do. If law firms learn to measure success in terms of healthy, productive colleagues instead of an iron-clad billable hours competition, all parties benefit. Those struggling will be buoyed by the support they receive, and the shame and isolation of mental illness will be mitigated. Healthy and committed lawyers will stay in the profession, in an office climate of teamwork and collaboration and clients will receive excellent service. In the end, it’s a new path to business growth, leaving casualties along the way. About the Authors Elizabeth Ortega of ECO Strategic Communications counsels professional service firms and thought leaders. As an expert in business development strategies and litigation public relations, she advises firms and their clients in high-profile international legal matters. Her emphasis on straightforward communications encompasses wellness programming. Fernando Garcia has over 15 years of experience as a General Counsel. His practice has included providing strategic and legal advice on Canada-wide and international operations, labor relations and employment law and all general legal matters. #ElizabethOrtega #FernandoGarcia #mentalhealth #wellbeing #workplace #lawyers

  • Redefining Legal Operations

    Ari Kaplan speaks with Connie Brenton and Jeff Franke, the founders of, a membership community providing legal operations and other professionals with resources and events including an inaugural conference in October. Ari Kaplan You have served as the VP of Legal for NetApp for over a decade and also founded and served as the first CEO of CLOC. How did your career move from legal in the traditional practice sense to focus on legal operations as a unique discipline? Connie Brenton I was very fortunate to have started early on in the evolution of the legal operations role. I had a fantastic general counsel, who saw the bigger picture and looked at legal as a competitive advantage. He truly understood the value of running legal like a business. I stepped into that role with a team of 23 almost 20 years ago. The role was unique and at that point, it was almost unheard of to have a team of that size. I was also active in the legal process outsourcing space and visited India to find LPO partners. We built a legal operations team that bridged all of the different groups within the company into one optimized team and produced a true general counsel/legal operations partnership to help provide value beyond the strict delivery of legal services. Ari Kaplan You are also a co-founder of CLOC and like Connie have practiced in a legal department while leading legal operations. How does combine those two elements? Jeff Franke At its core, legal operations is really about delivering legal services. I spent about 10 years practicing law and received an MBA when I got my JD so I have always focused on the bigger picture. This function is multidisciplinary and there are three components to it: (1) finding the right tools to help deliver services; (2) the delivery of those services; and (3) the core elements of the business, from finance and communication to technology and organizational design. If you were going to design the perfect person for the most senior role in operations, it would be somebody who had a JD, an MBA, and a background in IT. Ari Kaplan How has legal operations changed since you led the team to formalize it from a book club, as you've described it in the past, into a global community? Connie Brenton There have been some big advancements and the number of professionals in the role has expanded exponentially. When we started the book club, there were probably 150 executives who labeled themselves as legal operations leaders. Now, the vast majority of legal departments in the Fortune 500 have a legal operations position. The progression of the role itself has been slower and one of the reasons we started CLOC was to define the role. As the role of the general counsel evolves, the remit of the legal operations executive changes, so we have seen quite a bit of change recently, with those responsibilities now including strategy, HR, and technology. Jeff Franke People still ask: “What is legal operations?” It is unusual because almost all of the roles within a corporation are defined while this one is not because: (1) the initial role of the general counsel was as a risk manager and there was no legal operations support; (2) the GC evolved into a business partner as legal departments focused on helping the business move forward; (3) GC's are now strategic and trusted advisors; and, (4) the ultimate paradigm is the general counsel who is helping to create a competitive advantage for the business. Those four paradigms result in four distinct legal operations roles, from tactical, cost-cutting, and efficiency-focused to supporting and driving strategy. The strategic GC, however, needs a chief of staff, who can extend the reach of the law department. And the ultimate result is merging the role of operations with legal, with legal operations woven into the fabric of the general counsel to deliver legal services, where everyone in the legal department is a legal operations professional. Connie Brenton Redefining legal operations is really about helping GCs understand those four paradigms and the stage in which their legal departments exist to support their growth, as well as explain to CEOs, CFOs, and COOs the breadth of legal operations. Ari Kaplan How do you see’s first conference distinguishing itself from others that focus on this topic? Connie Brenton We will have the entire legal ecosystem in a room together. The conference is being produced in partnership with the Women's General Counsel Network and LawVision, which largely supports law firms. In addition, we curate all of the content so that attendees will leave with additional knowledge that improves their performance and an expanded network to increase the available resources when people have specific questions. In fact, we are dedicating the entire afternoon of the first day of the “Running Legal Like a Business Conference” to personal development. Jeff Franke We are also creating a community to both discuss and apply the concepts that help law departments thrive. We see this as an educational event and also an opportunity to share new ideas to help drive the profession forward. We created the CLOC Core Competencies or CLOC 12, which is still a great paradigm, but we have also created the Personal Effectiveness Skills and Traits Competency Model and will provide training around it, as well as on a third model we will be introducing at the conference. In an ideal world, business and law schools would already have the content and incorporate it into their curricula. Ari Kaplan Where do you see legal operations headed? Connie Brenton Legal operations will follow the evolution of the general counsel and align the delivery of legal services to the creation of a competitive advantage for the business. Law firms are also now creating their own technology solutions and overhauling the way they are thinking about delivering services. As alternative legal services providers, law firms, and technology companies change so do legal operations professionals. Jeff Franke Changes in technology, including ChatGPT and the expanded use of automated workflows, will impact legal operations, as will creative staffing models and ALSPs. Regulators will also influence this shift because the regulatory environment will become more complex and increase the relevance of legal. We are even breaking certain services, such as legal project management, into components and identifying their true value in a process of de-aggregating and re-aggregating. The evolution of the role of the GC and legal operations, in general, is largely driven by changes in the law. *Editor’s Note: This transcript was originally published by the ABA Journal at Ari Kaplan ( regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspectives highlight transformative change, and introduce new technology at Listen to his conversation with Connie Brenton and Jeff Franke here:

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