Lise Damelet, a member of our Paris team, is a co-founder of the Paris Bar Incubator, an initiative of the Bar Association to inspire legal innovation in Paris. The Incubator advocates on behalf of the legal profession and legal startups to remove structural impediments to innovation. In addition to its advocacy work, the Incubator has formed a Think Tank that is sparking conversation among lawyers, legal directors and academics. It studies trends like the effect of the digital revolution on lawyers. And it seeks to inspire disruptive initiatives by lawyers and legal startups with an annual Innovation Award.
Can human-centered design improve the way we practice law? Why not? We’re inspired by our
sponsorship of the Stanford Legal Design Lab, which works at the intersection of human-centered design, technology and the law. Led by Margaret Hagan, a lecturer at Stanford Law School and Stanford’s Institute of Design, the Legal Design Lab studies how people interact with and experience the legal system to explore how human-centered design can improve the legal service experience.
One example of how we’re working with the Stanford Legal Design Lab is seeing how design theory can help solve one of our own business questions: Can we reduce the cost of legal services without compromising quality? We invited professors and students from law, engineering and d.schools to observe how we deliver legal work in two areas – wage and hour class actions and renewable energy project financings. We’re now implementing the great feedback we received. This project was recently commended by Financial Times in its Innovative Lawyers Report.
If you’ve visited our Women @Orrick page, then you already know that we’re focused on promoting women’s leadership, both at Orrick and in the profession. One way we’re doing this is by participating in the Women in Law Hackathon – a Shark Tank-style pitch competition created by the Diversity Lab in collaboration with Stanford Law School and Bloomberg Law.
The Hackathon’s goal is to generate innovative ideas and solutions that will lead to greater retention and advancement of experienced women in law firms. Our litigation partner and board member Christina Guerola Sarchio is a team member. In describing for The American Lawyer her reasons for participating in the contest, Christina noted that as a commercial litigator she’s often the only woman in the room, let alone the only Hispanic woman. Christina is part of a team that is competing with other senior partners from U.S. law firms to devise an innovative project or initiative that helps crack the code.
We’re looking forward to learning from the results.
A few years ago, we introduced the annual $50,000 Orrick Innovation Prize to engage all of our lawyers and staff in working on ways we can improve and innovate. Winners have developed and implemented all kinds of ideas – from a new way to reward teamwork to the development of a software program to better analyze the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket to a transformation in the way we support our associates in investing in client relationships. Of course, the greatest benefit of the prize is the many more innovative ideas – large and small – that our team members submit and we put into practice throughout the year.
Our partners are committed to making Orrick and our profession better. One way they do this is through 2% Time. Each Orrick partner dedicates 2% of his or her time each year to an original initiative. Partners have used this time to tackle an incredibly diverse set of projects, from extraordinary mentoring efforts to leading a budding international pro bono organization. One partner created a TED Talk-style training series for our Public Finance team members. Our Veterans’ Legal Career Fair was another 2% Time idea.
As a tech-focused firm, we’re inspired to bring legal innovation to the entrepreneurial community. We’re known for working with tech companies, especially those just starting out – Law360 has named us Tech Group of the Year for the past two years. Because of our work with startups, we’re intimately aware of the challenges they face. We wondered how we could simplify the business of forming and growing a great company.
We came up with a number of ways. Through Total Access, we host panel events and give our clients networking opportunities to help with those important early introductions. We sponsor a fundraising series and coaching sessions to improve our clients’ pitches and relationships with investors. We created a market-recognized Forms Library and Term-Sheet Generator to make the legal formation process more transparent. Lately, we’ve tackled the obstacles to legal incorporation on a global scale. With our client Stripe, we’re collaborating on Atlas, a program designed to help startups from around the world incorporate more easily in the U.S. And in Paris, we’re teaming up with Partech Ventures on Europe Made Easy, a new service to help international tech businesses enter the European market.