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Did you innovate in your legal department last year?

Editor's Box

A new year sparks many to evaluate their current situation and make goals for the future. Taking time to reflect on what one accomplished in the previous year can be satisfying, and for those who pursue continuous improvement it can be difficult sometimes to determine whether they really moved the needle on progress or fell short of their own, often high, expectations.

This month, we open the nominations for our fifth annual Innovatio Awards. Yes, that’s right, it’s been five years since we launched our in-house recognition program. I can honestly say that after last September’s gala event I felt we really finally moved the needle on the event’s recognition in the marketplace. We extended the program to honour public sector in-house departments and had a great response, hearing from departments I have never seen at conferences or met at association meetings.

I am always surprised when I get calls from reluctant, humble in-house leaders who will call, close to the deadline, and ask me if their project or leader would qualify for an Innovatio nomination. In so many cases, what they have done to streamline a process or improve delivery of services to the business units has been impressive, even monumental if you consider the steps they had to take to get buy-in and change thinking.

There are also the young leaders working in your departments that we would like to see more nominations for this year. Think of the young (five years or less in-house) lawyers among you who have brought their own innovative ideas to you and taken the project to fruition. Recently, a young general counsel sent me an email asking if we might be interested in her story. I was shocked at what she’d accomplished in the short time since she left law school and gone in-house to a dynamic non-profit.

Recognizing the future of the profession is important and can serve to show others what’s possible in a career in-house.

So, in the next two months, please take the time to reflect on the work you and your team did, perhaps in conjunction with external counsel, to innovate and change your department’s approach to getting work done. We have nine categories (and I encourage you to consider more than one) that range from Tomorrow’s Leaders, Dealmakers, Law Department Diversity, Best Practices in Compliance Systems, Law Department Management, Risk Management, Working with External Counsel, Litigation Management and Law Department Leadership.

We evaluate entries from small and large departments separately as well as public sector departments (also from small and large).

For those who aren’t familiar with our process, our judges are all from in-house departments from across the country. All winner selections are made by the judges.

And don’t be shy — if you have a question about our process or whether your project or initiative would make for a good nomination, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I love talking about the work being done in-house. I also encourage everyone to take a look at our past winners at the program website

Have a great year!