Innovatio Awards

Written by  Jennifer Brown with contributions by Yamri Taddese, Mallory Hendry and Janet Guttsman Posted Date: September 8, 2016

Disruption in the name of greater value

It has been just three years since we first launched the Innovatio Awards but, in that short time, we have seen an impressive increase in sophistication of nominations from some top legal departments from across the country — both large and small. In fact, it is often some of the smaller departments tackling projects that net big results and top marks from our judges.

If this is your first introduction to the Canadian Lawyer InHouse Innovatio Awards, it is a program designed to showcase the innovative work of Canadian legal departments and their legal service providers in Canada.

Over the past few months, I have, together with our stellar team of in-house judges, had the pleasure of reviewing the nominations from a range of in-house departments including big public companies, various levels of government from municipal, provincial to federal and non-profit organizations.

This year, we added the category of Law Department Leadership to recognize senior leaders who foster innovation in their departments. In the following pages you will read about the inspiration people like Monique Mercier, chief legal officer of Telus, and Tony Linardi, general counsel of Golder Associates bring to the people they work with.

Linardi, nominated by Nicole Clark, senior legal counsel at Golder, spoke highly of Linardi’s approach to leadership and innovation for the business — fostering a culture that makes his legal team want to stay and grow with the organization.

The overall winner this year from all categories was the legal team at Aecon Group Inc., which impressed the judges the most above all the other winners in the final round of review and was selected to receive the Innovation of the Year award for the rollout of Project Excelsior. Excelsior is a multi-pronged initiative to bring excellence in risk management to every level of Aecon. A series of programs was created to change the risk management standard of the organization: a commercial risk committee (to review significant risks and provide guidance); training of project execution personnel; collecting lessons learned across projects; a risk evaluation committee (to monitor projects during execution); enterprise risk management to identify risks, generate a heat map and assign risk weightings; risk committee of board of directors; and to ultimately develop a compliance function.

As judge Lorne O’Reilly of Dow Chemical noted in assessing this final award: “My determination on Innovation of the Year is based on how comprehensive a change was made by the legal department, and how innovative the outcome was in comparison to their previous practice and other organizations. I believe that to be innovative you have to be a game changer; disruption of present practice is a base requirement and the ultimate goal is greater value for the organization. It is always more than someone saying that something is innovative.”

Lorne really nailed it when he said: “Disruption of present practice is a base requirement.” Many of the nominations we received this year went to that next level of creating greater value, even finding new business for the organization or facilitating cost savings and efficiencies.

I hope you enjoy reading about the winners in the following pages. Change is possible and can be rewarding in so many ways.

Fernando Garcia, general counsel, Nissan Canada - Lynn Korbak, general counsel and corporate secretary, Morneau Shepell - Julia Shin Doi, general counsel and secretary of Board of Governors, Ryerson University - Dorothy Quann, vice president and general counsel, Xerox Canada - Lorne O'Reilly, senior counsel, Dow Chemical Canada ULC - Dean Scaletta, director, information and litigation, Manitoba Public Insurance - Robert Piasentin, general counsel, corporate secretary & privacy officer, Sierra Systems - Constance Crosby, Senior legal, Cisco Systems Canada - Josh Death, AVP legal, TD Bank Group

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