Michele DeStefano is a professor of law at the University of Miami, Guest Faculty in Harvard Law School, Executive Education, and the founder of LawWithoutWalls, an international think-tank aimed at honing new skillsets and mindsets and creating innovations at the intersection of law, business, and technology.
As a professor of law, DeStefano researches and writes about the growing intersections between law, business, and legal innovation. Her book Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law leverages over 100 interviews of general counsels of large international corporations and heads of innovation at law firms.
Lawyers-on-Fire has spoken with Michele about her new book, her advice to students and young professionals and her view on today’s and tomorrow’s legal world. Listen and get inspired:
- Why? What was your motivation to write this book?
- What’s happening? You describe technology, shifts in socio-economics and globalization as the main forces impacting the law market today. What do these trends mean for future lawyers?
- Most wanted persona? Your book takes into account more than hundred interviews you conducted with partners of law firms, GC and other legal professionals. If you summarize their expectations, what would be the ideal persona of a lawyer they would like to hire?
- And what is the reality? You talk about the Lawyer Skills Delta…
- Why innovate? Many lawyers, particularly in BigLaw, don't see any reason to change or innovate. Business is going well, changing working system is risky and innovation may even jeopardize the status quo. Yet you argue that there is a need for change because of a New Value Equation in law. What is this new equation about?
- After the whys let's talk about the how. Your advice is to create a culture of creativity, collaboration and innovation by having an open mind, an open heart and an open door. This reminds me to a concept of leadership I once learnt at university: a good leader has a cool head, busy hands and a warm heart. What are these three rules of engagement? Do you want to give examples?
- Finally, you identified three groups you believe will be the front runners leading the change and shaping the future legal marketplace. Who are they and what can they do?