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Innovation > Tradition: Eight tips for embracing transformation

October 09, 2017
By Dennis C. Garcia
Dennis C. Garcia is an assistant general counsel for Microsoft Corp. based in Chicago. He provides a wide range of legal support to Microsoft's sales, marketing and operations groups across the United States. Dennis received his B.A. in political science from Binghamton University in New York and his J.D. from Columbia Law School. also in New York. He is admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut and Illinois (House Counsel). He serves on the Illinois Legal Aid Online Board of Directors and the Association of Corporate Counsel - Chicago chapter. Please follow Dennis on Twitter @DennisCGarcia.
Dennis.C.Garcia@microsoft.com

When Satya Nadella was named CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, he said the following in his initial companywide e-mail to Microsoft employees: “Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation.”

Although this quotation was meant for those in the information technology world, I believe it is equally relevant to the legal profession. Let me explain.

Our profession is experiencing significant change and disruption. General trends like the rapid pace of technological advancement, growing concerns about cybersecurity, the changing demographics of a younger workplace and the rise of nationalism across the globe are impacting the legal profession.

Within the legal profession we are seeing developments ranging from the growth of alternative legal providers to clients requiring their law firms to embrace alternative fee arrangements to in-house counsels being required to do more with fewer resources to intense competition among law firms.

More than ever before it is important for lawyers to transform themselves while they perform their duties so they can be more innovative and provide a higher degree of legal service to their clients. Here are some suggestions on how lawyers can better embrace transformation:

Focus on wellness

Practicing law can be highly stressful and we are unfortunately seeing a higher incidence of depression, substance abuse and other health-related issues among lawyers. If lawyers are going to be more open to change and adapting themselves, they need to be at their very best every day both mentally and physically. Be sure to embrace mindfulness practices, get proper sleep, take “real” vacations to unplug from the workplace and ask for help when needed.

Technology is a lawyer’s best friend

Embracing state-of-the-art technology can help lawyers not only achieve more, but cybersecurity can be enhanced by partnering with highly trusted and reliable technology providers. Be open to utilizing trustworthy cloud computing solutions, leading collaboration tools, best-in-class devices and artificial intelligence so you can better serve your clients in an ever-changing environment.

Embrace the growth mindset

Lawyers who adopt a “learn it all” mentality versus a “know it all” mentality will be better positioned to transform themselves and be more open to change. Avoid having a fixed mindset, be a lifelong learner, actively listen to others and always seek feedback so you can constantly improve and grow.

Champion diversity and inclusion

Legal organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion value different perspectives and will be more open to change and innovation. Studies demonstrate time and time again that diverse teams perform at a higher level than nondiverse teams. Be sure to quickly recognize and address your unconscious biases so that you do not remain static, close-minded and inflexible.

Always be client obsessed

Adopting a client-first mentality will position lawyers to better adapt their legal services to meet the evolving needs of their clients. Invest the time to deepen the relationship with their clients, immerse yourself in understanding their business and marketplace and provide bespoke legal support that addresses and anticipates their specific needs.

Be more social

Social media usage all over the world continues to increase and it has become the leading medium by which we can all quickly obtain, convey and share key information. Develop a thoughtful social media presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as they provide endless opportunities for lawyers to learn more, to develop relationships with clients (and potential clients) and to build both your brand and your organization’s brand.

Compliance is a non-negotiable

While lawyers need to be open to transformation, they should never be open to compromising their ethics and integrity. Always remain focused on compliance and professionalism since enhancing trust with clients and others are even more important during times of change.

Be bold

In our fast-paced and changing world, clients expect their legal teams to develop new, creative and “out-of-the-box” legal solutions to help move them forward. Don’t be shy in proposing such big and bold solutions.

Embracing change can be very uncomfortable for all of us. By learning to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable, lawyers can transform, innovate and better serve their clients.

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