While innovation is often talked about in theory, the Center’s research offers a bottom-up assessment on how it is operationalized in practice. The survey’s starting point—and target audience—is a set of newly emerging innovation professionals. On the in-house side, these individuals are often called “legal operation specialists.” On the law firm side, they are often called “chief innovation partners.” Indeed, part of the survey is to precisely design to help understand who these individuals are—for example, what are their educational credentials and career backgrounds—and what do their teams look like—for example, how many members and is there a dedicated budget? The survey also asks a specific set of questions relating to what these individuals (and their teams) are charged with within their organization, particularly concerning innovation. For instance, are they charged with advancing artificial intelligence? Or knowledge management? Or cybersecurity systems? Or something else? Of particular interest are any differences between the charges of law firm and in-house departments. The survey then proceeds to ask a series of questions around specific innovation projects, including the sources and support and resistance.

Photo of post-it notes on a wall
Design thinking exercise during a 2018 Innovation Colloquium

As the project has developed, CLP faculty have increased its reach by convening industry leaders to share expertise and insights. To that end, in Fall 2016, CLP hosted the Innovation Leadership Colloquium, held at HLS (hosted in collaboration with HLS Executive Education), which brought together 25 “chief innovation officers” of law firms and 25 legal operations leaders of companies to discuss what innovation means to clients and providers and to begin a dialogue on how the two might work together. The Colloquium included presentations by the head of legal operations at Google and the General Counsel and legal design lead of IDEO; it also included breakout groups utilizing the Center’s Microsoft technology.

Since then, the Center has hosted two further colloquiums on the topic, the first in the Bay Area on June 2018, the second in New York City in October 2018, and the third at HLS in June 2019. These events collectively brought together nearly 200 innovation leaders from law firms and in-house legal departments, to discusses how innovation is “operationalized” within their organizations.

To learn more, click here to view a recent article on the events.


Want to get involved in our work? Check out our opportunities.