Intrapreneurs with impact
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Life as an intrapreneur at a law firm these days can be closer to being part of in-house IT — but doing a lot more than telling less tech-savvy partners to switch it off and on again. In fact, all our showcased lawyers have used IT as a business enabler; some even as a business consultancy opportunity. The best, and our winner, have ensured the efficiency benefits are felt by both co-workers and corporate clients.
Profiles compiled by RSGI researchers and FT editors. “Winner” indicates an Innovative Lawyers 2022 award, the rest are in alphabetical order
The alternative legal service provider
WINNER: Katherine Lowry, chief information officer, BakerHostetler
After the firm launched a research and development team, it was Katherine Lowry’s task to transform it into an in-house alternative service provider, now called IncuBaker. Its role is to help the firm and its clients undergo digital transformation.
Lowry has been responsible for IncuBaker’s 125 per cent growth since 2016, by automating processes for clients, setting up global privacy programmes, and streamlining commercial contracting. Within BakerHostetler, she has promoted the visualisation of work, by using dashboards, and helped it become a leader in using legal tech internally and for clients. She was appointed overall chief information officer in October 2022.
Lisa Chamandy, chief knowledge and innovation officer, Borden Ladner Gervais
By implementing its first-ever five-year innovation strategy, Lisa Chamandy has brought the Canadian law firm into the 21st century.
Her 40-strong team has digitised the firm and developed non-legal consulting services to clients. They manage the firm’s operations, its library services, knowledge and learning, and a digital hub. Chamandy has driven the growth of agile working at the firm, where more than 50 leaders have had agile leadership training. She has also been at the heart of core initiatives, such as the firm’s in-house alternative legal service provider, BLG Beyond, and a flexible staffing service, Beyond Legal Talent.
The data-driven budgeter
Bill Garcia, chief practice innovation officer, Thompson Hine
Bill Garcia was one of the first law firm practice managers to spot the power of data and artificial intelligence, when he helped the firm develop SmartPaTH, which enables Thompson Hine to predict legal project costs accurately and stick to client budgets.
His foresight in collecting and curating 12 years of firm data has contributed to the tool’s success. Garcia’s background as both a general counsel and consultant stood him in good stead to take on a digital transformation role at the firm.
Andy Gastwirth, chief innovation officer, DLA Piper
A record at Microsoft as a digital adviser who has worked on big technology projects in the public sector gave Andy Gastwirth the clout to effect significant change when he moved to DLA Piper.
In his five years at the firm, Gastwirth has turned the IT team into a business partner and enabler for the lawyers, driving new revenues while also reducing costs by 25 per cent. Projects include migrating the firm to the cloud, revamping the finance system, putting rigour into the firm’s information governance, improving cyber security after a big breach in 2017, and redesigning systems for managing employee and new business intake.
Gastwirth was also an important contributor to the development of the firm’s tokenisation platform, Toko. In addition, he has initiated several pro bono projects to improve access to justice.
The mindset changer
Kate Orr, global head of practice innovation, Orrick
With a 16-year record at Orrick, first as a lawyer and then in the innovation team, Kate Orr has made an art of enacting change. Her approach is deeply empathetic: she focuses on “walking in the lawyer’s shoes” before suggesting they work differently.
Orr has been involved in some of the biggest practice changes at the firm. These include building CaseStream, a transaction and litigation management system that is now widely used, and working with more than 100 clients on their own innovation projects.
She has moved systematically through the firm’s practice areas to reimagine how they can work better, leads hackathons involving 1,500 people at a time, and has trained hundreds of new associates on the firm’s approach to innovation.
The wellness guru
Lori Pines, chief wellness officer, Weil, Gotshal & Manges
A self-described gym-junkie and student of biology and public health, litigator Lori Pines was appointed as the firm’s chief wellness officer in April 2022.
One of the few such officers in Big Law, Pines is an unusually senior appointment in this role having been a partner for more than 20 years. Her task is to oversee the firm’s wellbeing programme, which seeks to promote physical, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing alongside work satisfaction in the firm’s staff of 2,700.
Recent achievements include the launch of a wellbeing challenge, in which 400 lawyers participated to improve their sleep, exercise, meditation, and relaxation habits.
The experience maker
Dan Pulka, chief client experience officer, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders
With a background in marketing, Dan Pulka recognised that commercial law firms must change how they interact with clients. Borrowing ideas from the customer experience strategies of consumer brands, he set up a new department to transition the firm from delivering services to delivering memorable experiences.
Pulka has since launched Troutman Pepper Plus, to focus on how the firm can more effectively listen to clients and expand its offering to them, as well as a separate initiative that sets service standards for the whole firm and encourages its business professionals to spot new commercial opportunities at the client.
The tech-savvy integrator
Mike Tyler, director of IT client services, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
Persuading a 230-year-old law firm to embrace technology and understand its value was always going to be an uphill battle. So, for Mike Tyler, the trick was to convince its lawyers that technology could help them to become the very best in their fields.
His teams of IT professionals are integrated with the firm’s lawyers to help solve problems for clients.
Tyler has created a tech-savvy legal workforce at the firm that has ranged from using AI to make changes to Libor contracts, bespoke document assembly for structured finance deals, and using blockchain technology in commercial mortgage-backed securities work.
For the Intrapreneur awards, winners were selected by a panel of judges from a shortlist compiled by RSGI.
The judging panel comprised: Matthew Vincent, editor, FT Project Publishing (panel chair); Harriet Arnold, assistant editor, FT Project Publishing; David Fisher, chief executive, Integra Ledger; Yasmin Lambert, managing director, RSGI; Kirsten Maslen, director, inbound product marketing — legal tech, Thomson Reuters; Curt Meltzer, evangelist, Litera; Patrick Temple-West, governance reporter, FT; Stephanie Vaughan, global legal practice director, iManage