Lawyers As Technology Drivers
I have always believed that a lawyer must be “where the action is.”
Whether an organization is dealing with a merger or acquisition, internal restructuring, bidding for new business, engaging a new supplier, or handling any other important matter, there will always be legal implications to consider and manage.
Typically the person handling such matters would reach out to the relevant lawyer (in-house or external) in need of support. This is how a lawyer might become passively involved in the action.
However, I find it far more interesting when lawyers become actively involved.
Indeed, as professionals and leaders, lawyers should not only have the right to get involved “where the action is,” but also the responsibility to promote and drive such action.
Technological initiatives are a great example of that. In my opinion, lawyers must take a particularly “active” role to sponsor and drive these and are in a great position to do so. Here is why:
First, lawyers have access to a broad spectrum of key initiatives happening in their own organizations and are used to dealing with third parties. This can become especially useful in order to become aware of what technology is available in the market (e.g., used by the organization’s external stakeholders) and the implications of introducing technological enhancements in their organizations.
Second, because of the nature of their work, lawyers are optimal at imagining how the future could look, for example, when anticipating risk. When thinking of technology, it is all about visualizing what could be possible–and the more scenarios a lawyer is able to come up with, the higher the potential to enhance the organization’s digital landscape would be.
Third, lawyers tend to be very process-oriented and logical thinkers. These are great skills when dealing with technology. Technology is merely an enabler of process and, if existing processes are fundamentally flawed, the implementation of technology will be equally unsuccessful.
Fourth, while technology can certainly help to accelerate efficiency and have a positive impact, it can also involve some risks. In this regard, lawyers would, in any case, lead risk mitigation matters as part of their roles, e.g., by properly assessing IT vendors or by ensuring proper contracts are in place, which protects their organizations in case things go wrong.
Finally, as respected leaders, most lawyers possess the right level of influence within their organizations to enable change. This is a key aspect as many technological enhancements need funding and might impact the organization’s P&L in the short term.
Therefore, and to conclude, I am now convinced that lawyers must not only be “where the action is,” but, in particular, when referring to technology, they must “DRIVE the action”