Future Leaders: Celebrating In-house Innovation

Despite the disruption of the past few years, innovation within New Zealand’s in-house legal teams is thriving. Hear Jason Wach and Gus Hazel - Partners at James & Wells, chat to the Young In-house Lawyer of the Year finalists on the work they do, what innovation means to them, and their top tips for driving clever thinking within your own teams

Despite the disruption of the past few years, innovation within New Zealand’s in-house legal teams is thriving. Hear Jason Wach and Gus Hazel - Partners at James & Wells, chat to the Young In-house Lawyer of the Year finalists Charlotte Moll (Senior Legal Counsel, Warren and Mahoney), Georgina Sanders (In-House Counsel & Privacy Officer, Mainfreight), and Jeremy Jones (Senior Legal Counsel, AIA New Zealand) on the work they do, what innovation means to them, and their top tips for driving clever thinking within your own teams:

  • What defines innovative legal work? How a different approach can achieve better results.
  • What does it mean to be an innovative lawyer? How does a creative legal team contribute to the success of an organisation?
  • Can you balance innovation with risk management?
  • Using clever thinking to overcome challenges: embracing a different way to problem solve
To view full transcript, please click here

Gus: [00:00:13] Good morning, everyone. My name is Gus Hazel, and I am one of your hosts today, along with my partner, Jason Wach. Just keeping an eye on the on the attendee numbers which appear to be evening out. So I just want to give everyone a chance to join us. All right. That appears to be. At a static level. Good. Just a few words about our topic and our panelists today. Obviously, our topic is future leaders celebrating in house innovation. And we have three excellent panel panelists with us today, all finalists in House Lawyer of the Year. So we're very fortunate to have them with us. Jason and I have been fortunate to have a few discussions with them over the past few days or weeks. And as I get older, it seems every other lawyer gets younger and smarter and this is no exception. Here we are. First of all, just a couple of words about Jason and I. We're both partners at James and Wells, intellectual property firm in New Zealand and Australia. Both Jason and I focus on litigation not exclusively, but largely. We've been lucky enough to be nominated for this role, and we found it a very interesting experience getting to know these people. Briefly, we have Charlotte Moll, who's senior legal counsel at Warren and Mahoney, Jeremy Jones, senior legal counsel at AIA New Zealand, and Georgina Sanders, in-house counsel and Privacy Officer at Mainfreight. And I'll just turn over to each of them in turn to say a few words about themselves. I might start with you, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [00:01:55] So thanks, Gus. So I'm senior legal counsel at Warren and Mahoney. It's an architecture firm worth about 400 staff and has seven studios across New Zealand and Australia, five in New Zealand and one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. I started my legal career at Russell McVeigh and I was there for four years before I kicked off into my first in-house role at Fonterra, and I've also worked at Victa and now I'm, I'm in a very small team of myself and one other person, Colleen Finley. And yeah, so I've gone from really big listed New Zealand, New Zealand listed organisations and now to a smaller one that is growing rapidly.

Gus: [00:02:40] Thanks, Charlotte. Georgina, can I turn to you next?

Georgina: [00:02:44] Yes. Hi. So I work at Mainfreight. I'm the in-house counsel. And like Charlotte, I'm part of a small team. It's just myself and our general counsel. And I've been here for five years and I actually started here at Mainfreight, so I don't have any private practice experience. I started as a graduate here and I've effectively grown up in my role as an in-house lawyer. I work mainly in the areas of sort of property, employment, corporate trademarks and privacy. So that's sort of my day to day exposure there. Yeah. Thanks, guys.

Gus: [00:03:18] Thanks, Georgina. And we agreed a few moments ago that Georgina wins. Best background for today's session. Hands down. Okay, Jeremy, over to you.

Jeremy: [00:03:30] Thank you and good morning, everyone. My name is Jeremy Jones. I'm the senior legal counsel at Air New Zealand. I joined AIA in 2008 and after starting my private practice career at Chapman, I worked in the corporate team for a number of years. I've always been fascinated by business and commerce, and after doing a back home at university, the opportunity to work within a business is really appealing. So that's why I made the Move and House and I joined at a time when the business was undergoing significant change with just acquired the sovereign insurance business from CBA. And so there's a lot of opportunities for a lawyer to assist in the integration of those two businesses.

Gus: [00:04:15] Excellent. Thanks, Jeremy. We will we'll launch into questions in just a minute. And although we do have sort of tentatively or have tentatively put aside some time at the end for questions, we have found in our previous discussions the best material seems to come out when we have people asking questions and expressing their thoughts as we go. So to all of the attendees, please feel free to post your questions as we go, and we'll try and keep up with them and pose them as they come on in. So thank you. I'll turn over now to Jason for a moment.

Jason: [00:04:51] Good morning, everyone. Now, Jeremy, Charlotte and Georgina, it's really fantastic to have the opportunity to talk to three recognised outstanding young in-house lawyers and and to have the benefit of your thoughts this morning. We've got a good turnout of attendees and I hope this will be useful for everyone. And in my own experience I really enjoy hearing about the personal side of of law and hearing war stories directly from other practitioners. And I hope there's a fair bit of interest for the attendees and other panelists this morning, so we'll get stuck in. And the first questions just for the first question, we'd like to frame the issue. The theme this morning is innovation, and I'd like to direct the first question to Jeremy. Jeremy, what does legal innovation mean to you and what do you think defines an innovative lawyer?

Jeremy: [00:05:56] Thanks, Jason. I think in a pure sense, innovation is all around the practical implementation of ideas that ultimately result in new products or improved products or new services or improved services. And I think when you apply that to a lawyer, there are really two aspects of being an innovative lawyer. And I think the first aspect is sort of how can you be innovative within your own practice when you're delivering your legal services? So from that perspective, an innovative lawyer is one who's continually challenging themselves to find ways to deliver your services faster or maybe more efficiently, or looking at using automation to provide basic legal services. And then the second aspect is how can you support your business to be innovative, and how can you support them to introduce new ideas or products, and how can you partner with your stakeholders to make their ideas turn into something that's great for your customers and great for the business? And I think both those areas are exciting and sometimes they overlap. And personally, I think I really enjoy that second aspect because you get to partner with the business stakeholders and help them deliver their ideas. And it's great to see an idea actually come to life and make a difference for your customers.

Jason: [00:07:20] Thanks, Jeremy. I think that frames the issue really well. And I agree that there's a an outward focusing aspect of what we're about to discuss today. So innovation directed at the outwards towards the marketplace, but also inward, inward focused innovation. So innovation directed towards internal stakeholders. Charlotte, do you have anything to add to this framing stage? What does innovation mean to you and what do you think defines an innovative lawyer?

Charlotte: [00:07:48] Oh, look, I think Jeremy's covered most of it, but yeah, looking to do things differently and constantly improve, I think is basically innovation from a from a lawyer's perspective in terms of what their practice is doing.

Jason: [00:08:02] Thanks, Charlotte. Anything to add? Georgina.  

Georgina: [00:08:05] Oh, thanks. Jason Look, I think the big thing as well is just is pushing out boundaries and breaking down some of the stigma associated with the traditional legal function. You know, we're not sort of stiff and and stuck in our old ways. You know, we can be new, we can push out, we can challenge the status quo. So I love that that's what we're focusing on today, because I think that's really important. And look, I think innovative lawyers, someone looking for that fresh approach, they want to break through a conventional framework and they'll take a chance on some things. Obviously, there's a balance to find there. But yeah, I think I think all in all, I think we've covered, I guess, what we see as the main elements there.


Jason: [00:08:44] Thanks, Georgina. And I think a theme we're likely to return to this morning. And this applies to Gus and I as litigators and also in an in-house role is that sometimes lawyers can be perceived as a sort of a as a blockage and as a sort of a a facility that slows things down rather than facilitates. And from our previous discussion, I know that all three or all of the panelists have have the view that in-house lawyers certainly don't have to have that perception. And I think we'll return to that. Some of the further questions, Gus, I might just pass to you now for the next question.

Gus: [00:09:23] Thanks very much, Jason. And I'll I'll start with you, Charlotte, if that's okay. And I guess we're now turning to some more practical day to day forms of innovation. So the question I want to pose to you was, if you were starting in a new in-house role today, what are some practice management techniques and or time savers that you would look to implement?

Charlotte: [00:09:48] And I found a really useful timesaver when I was at Fonterra and a really big team and a really big company. And obviously the answer to this question will vary greatly on the size and nature of the business. I found one practice management technique that worked really well was having a drop in clinic. We have a well, Fonterra had a big procurement team there and they'd often be similar questions on similar templates of contracts. And by sitting aside to ours on a fortnightly basis, everyone on the procurement team who had a legal question would drop in and there'd be a lawyer present to answer the questions on the fly as far as they could. And everyone else in the procurement team who had joined for that call would get the benefit of hearing the answers to all the other legal questions. And this really helped to to cut down on repetition and to add learnings to the procurement team to educate them more about about their legal contracts. So I thought that was really helpful. Practice management technique.

Gus: [00:10:53] Thanks, Charlotte. It's a really interesting answer. And I guess I a question that occurs to me as a result is in a lot of in-house roles, my and I don't have any house experience. I've been the external provider to in-house lawyers a lot, but my impression is that they're often seen as a discreet unit and there is a very much a not so much in other name, but I can't think of a better phrase right at the moment. What you've just described to me might encourage a more informal, regular pick up the phone, have a five minute chat type of conversation amongst you and your other business stakeholders. Did you find that was a consequence of that, that clinic you've just described?

Charlotte: [00:11:32] Particularly not directly that clinic, but I think all legal I think all in-house lawyers would agree that I'm building relationships and that informality of people pick up the phone and have a chat is really, really key to our roles. I think in-house in particular means that we have to be approachable. Yes, people, we have to encourage the business to come to us first early on and then idea and yeah, I think informal chats and ability to pick up the phone and have a five minute call to avoid going too far down the path was something that potentially just needed a legal response. Yeah, it's really important.

Jason: [00:12:15] Just just to pick up on that thread, just with a brief comment. I think that just I think that what you've identified there is it's really important for all all lawyers in 2022 to be available. And so I frequently tell my clients, look, I'm the kind of lawyer that will pick up the phone and I will talk and I won't necessarily need to spend, you know, days sweating over a formal legal answer. I'm prepared to, where appropriate, to just just have that chat and have it straight away. So I really echo that. Yeah.

Gus: [00:12:47] Yeah. Georgina, I might turn to you next same question. Some practical time saving practice management tools that you might implement if you were starting a fresh role tomorrow.

Georgina: [00:13:00] So just to echo what Charlotte said, I just think that networking within your business and creating those relationships is just so and so valuable. You need the business to know that you're there to support them. And as we see it, breaking down that stigma that you're not there to stop them. You know, you want to work with them. And I found get regular catch ups with different business units. And in a Charlotte set of with a drop in clinic we we were hosting seminars so we were teaching some of our sales reps, you know, the basics of an NDA and what they needed to look for. And, and it not only sort of empowered them, but it also made them realise that the legal side wasn't as scary as they, as they thought it was. We could talk about it in a conversation, in a mess of thing that we have here at Mainfreight is really learning the business from the floor up and really being able to understand what it is they're trying to achieve. You know, as I said, I started as a graduate here, but I spent time on the floor in the warehouse and and in the transport depot to, you know, you really need to be able to understand what it is the business is trying to achieve their objectives. So those are guess some high level things in terms of practical, practical things I've implemented. I too have some template documents that helps the business when they know what they're trying to. If they're trying to put together an SLA or an NDA, what they need to fill in check sheets have been really helpful for one team. And yeah, just dealing with some standard clauses that we see repetitively and teaching the team what what we can work with, what we can't work with and when they need to reach out for help. But just echoing the relationships that's just that's so important and house.

Gus: [00:14:40] Thanks Georgina two comments that occur to me and I'll articulate them before I forget them. There is one is the discussion early with with the lawyers that's really important. It's certainly something we see in our practice or wish we might see even a bit more in our practice. With intellectual property in particular, your ability to secure rights can evaporate or disappear or become much problematic if you don't apply for rights early in the process. And in particular, for example, if you use an invention in public or something like that, you may prevent the ability or interfere with the ability to secure rights later. So we would often the number of times I've had clients come to us and say, I wish I'd come. You'd come to me six months ago before you advertise this product and we might be able to do something useful for you. I can't count, but that's that's one example of that. Anyway, look, the other point that occurs to me there is sort of reverse innovation. We've we've recently had a dear colleague leave after a long time with us, and he's gone into a management role in a firm and he's taken his timesheet record or practice into that role. And most in-house lawyers can see some smiles. It's the last thing you might think you would want to do, but he's his feedback is it's actually been really useful to do that and to actually encourage others to do it less, less stick. Perhaps you might feel in that role with that with timesheet recorder, then you might in a private practice. But he's actually taking a very traditional legal procedure and employing it in a new context and he's finding that quite useful. Sorry, my digression. Jeremy, over to you. Time management, practice management tools, etcetera that you would like to implement if you were going into a new role.

Jeremy: [00:16:31] Yeah. I think when you first go into an organisation particularly like Fonterra or AIA or Mainfreight, they're huge, complicated organisations. And if you've come in from a private practice background or role, they can be quite daunting. So I think my piece of advice would be to really focus on your role, which is to manage legal risk within the business and try not to get too caught up in matters that you can't control because they just stop you from being an effective lawyer. I think many lawyers just have this innate drive to try and help people around them within the business. And that's a great thing because it helps you build relationships and deliver your legal services effectively, but just make sure you don't go too far and take on problems that that aren't yours. The other tip I have is just use external counsel strategically. Now I'm conscious that this is being hosted by external counsel, but we obviously use external legal counsel for their specialist legal expertise and particular areas. I think it's not a controversial fact that an in-house lawyer has to be a generalist and cover a lot of matters. But we don't have the benefit of law clerks and junior lawyers often. So, you know, you can use your external legal counsel to actually do some work that you don't want to do and keep the good work for yourself.

Gus: [00:18:08] I'm refraining from saying too much.

Charlotte: [00:18:12] To that, Jeremy as well. That and also on what Georgina said about empowering the business. It's a good idea to look at what what's what's on the to do list and what of that is strictly legal and what's not. So things like having to interpret the delegated authorities policy three times a day. Someone clever in the business can. You can probably find someone who's willing to help you to make it make it so that that's a policy that doesn't need legal interpretation to be able to make sense. So things like that that people around the business that are clever and have have digital skills or marketing comms skills that can help to actually take things off your plate is also a good thing to look out for. Just one more.

Jason: [00:19:03] Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Georgina: [00:19:04] I just I was just going to jump in on what Jeremy said about external accounts. So I think utilizing them is fantastic. And also, I don't know how you feel, but in a small legal team as well, like I've actually utilized some to learn a lot, you know, whilst they've got their special what, what we're going to use them for. I've also used it to sort of to learn more for myself and, and whilst it doesn't mean that we're taking away any of their work or anything like that, but it does enable you as an in-house lawyer to sort of take a little bit of it and know what you can do while also passing it off. So I think just utilising what you can around you to continue to grow and learn as important.

Charlotte: [00:19:43] And I think that's a really important point too, Georgina, for the private practice lawyers giving advice to and house lawyers, especially when this small team and it's not the same speciality of law to actually take the time to talk them through and explain it and help them to learn and upskill. I think that's really valuable and really appreciate it.

Gus: [00:20:03] Just a couple of comments on that. Certainly, I've benefited enormously when I've kind of been taken inside the business and shown how it works. And particularly, I guess from our technology perspective, often it's hard to explain why. But actually going onto the factory floor and seeing the product being made or seen, whatever, it's the thing is that's the heart of the problem. Talking to the people who handle it, it's just it's incredibly helpful. It helps us really understand the business drivers and the practical considerations, I suppose, within the business of how they communicate ideas, how they get information back from people lower down the chain, whatever it might be. And we have a lot to learn as external providers in that regard, I think, and I always find them providing better advice if I really understand the nuts and bolts of the business in that fashion. The other point that I'd like to make, it relates to that is that we certainly in our practice, we obviously we're driven by budgets and so on in part as well. But we're not going to report every minute that we find that we want to develop long term relationships. We want to have our clients, people such as yourselves, feel free to pick up the phone without worrying about the dollar signs starting to go up like you're at the petrol pump. And so we would develop a practice where we don't record all of those conversations. We don't charge for all of those. A lot of it's just relationship investment. And that's that's really important for both sides as well. Very well. Sorry, Jason, I'll turn over to you for the next topic.

Jason: [00:21:39] Yeah, I just wanted to just be a slightly off script here and something occurred to me in the course of this discussion and just be interested in the panel's views on what the what the the boundaries of an in-house lawyer's role are, because an in-house lawyer is both part of the business and a professional lawyer. So in that regard, you know, there's clearly a sort of a special role that the in-house lawyer has. So to do any of the panel, have any comment on sort of what the boundaries of your role is and how far you can go to provide general advice and you know, what the parameters are and any comments. But my offer principally is to manage legal risk. But that. Quickly. strays into maybe non-legal advice and to be seen as a trusted adviser, you often have to give pragmatic advice that isn't necessarily tied up in the law. So you can easily stray outside of it. But I don't want to stray too far because there are other specialists that will be covering off those areas. But yeah, it is sometimes a very hard boundary to define. And I think when you can step outside of your traditional legal role and put your business hat on, you can start to talk to your stakeholders in their own language. And I think that's where you can really make some great progress and break down those barriers between the business and the legal team.

Charlotte: [00:23:15] I'd add to that, Jeremy, that because we want to be seen as people and not not a roadblock for the business and that actually helping them to find creative ways to do things. And instead of saying, oh, that's not legally compliant, say this as this best example is and let's think about other examples that are to the point where I was. Like helping to draft scripts for ads at Fonterra, which was really fun because I loved the creativity to do it, to do that. And I wasn't just saying, you can't say that I was helping to find other ways to say a similar thing to that. It was something that we would be comfortable with from a legal perspective.

Georgina: [00:24:03] Yeah. I mean, I just just touching it. I think I really like the word Jeremy used as a trusted business advisor and not have to wear the head of a lawyer the whole time. Know there are times I've worked with the team and you know, creating, you know, we've just been through COVID and freight has been incredibly hard to move. And so it's taken sort of all hands on deck to think of innovative ways to get things moving. You know, the team worked when we have the Christchurch earthquakes and things like that, you know, the team, it's sort of all hands on work and you can take off your illegal hair for your accountant hat or whatever it might be. And so that's really that's really encouraged here at Mainfreight that you don't need to be sort of defined by your role as such. We're sort of advising on many different things.

Jason: [00:24:51] Yeah. So I've never been an in-house lawyer, but I wonder, but obviously the in-house roles have a real attraction for, for the panellists here and, and the, the attendees and many others. So I wonder if part of the appeal of an in-house role is, is that ability to, to, to, to take part in a business beyond the strictures of the legal role. And the good example you gave Charlotte was writing that script. You know, I frankly, you know, my role as an external advisor, I haven't haven't had the opportunity to to sort of get into prose writing. I quite like to, but yeah, so I think I can, I can definitely see the appeal of health roles. So back on to, back on to, you know, having wrapped up that digression, it'd be really interesting to hear, to hone in a little more on the concept of innovation and hear a little more in terms of maybe war stories or anecdotes about a time for each of you where you or your team sought to be innovative, and that could be in the outward looking perspective or inwardly and achieved a great result. So Georgina, could we have your your comment on that? What's the time you sought to be innovative and had some success?

Georgina: [00:26:10] Yeah, look, so I sort of touched on just before, you know, COVID has presented many challenges for the freight industry. It's without sort of needing to go into it too much. I think we all understand what the challenges that are imposed there. So it meant that the team and I had to look at different ways of moving freight. We were an essential service. We needed to do that not only domestically but moving international freight as well. So look, the operational team is fantastic and they are incredibly innovative. And so working alongside myself and our general counsel, we were able to to look at new ways of moving freight, including chartering planes, chartering ships, you know, things we'd never done before. And it's all very well for operational team to put forward these wild and big ideas and things we've never done. And, you know, generally the stigma of our legal team would have been like no insurance wise. It's too difficult, liability, it's too difficult. But we sort of didn't have a choice at this point. So, look, we we went for it. We looked at the different ways and innovative ways we could manage the risk, the liability insurance sort of clauses and everything like that. And look, it has paid off. You know, we've managed to charter some planes and ships, things that we never a couple of years ago would have never have even been at the forefront of anyone's mind. So I think, yeah, it's collaborative effort within our business. So not just the legal team but in supporting them. Yeah, we were able to to achieve a great result there. Another small sort of anecdotal story was with our warehousing automatic stock picking. So it sounds sort of simple enough, but obviously that comes with IP and everything like that. So yeah, those are probably two times where we've worked alongside the business. If I, I guess come up with an innovative idea rather than us. But legally we've had to deal with what would normally be standard clauses and look at them and how we can adapt them to help the team push forward with what they're thinking so that there to to good results. And we'll leave it at that.

Jason: [00:28:16] Thanks, Georgina. That's really interesting. And it's it's interesting that you raise the well, you hinted at the pandemic there. And obviously, we've had an unprecedented business landscape in the last couple of years. And something Gus and I were discussing earlier is that sometimes adversity generates innovation. And I think that's a really good example. We might we might return to that to that point later. So I might turn now to Charlotte. Could you discuss a time you or your your team sought to be innovative and produce a good result?

Charlotte: [00:28:50] Yeah. So I was thinking about this question and a good example from a legal team coming up with an innovative idea to improve or improve what they do. Was the they convinced the islands satellite team could navigate. So as another example from when I was at Fonterra, that team, we had an off site day. Think about ways that we can improve, how we work and some of the issues we were having. And one of them was connectivity with other New Zealand and House lawyers who have an offshore reach. So finding out how they're doing things and managing overseas arbitrations, if they have any good examples of counsel that they would recommend in other countries, that kind of thing. And Emma Willis, who's a brilliant lawyer who's in the team at Fonterra, now manages and runs Navigate, which is a Highlands and House Lawyers Association of New Zealand, and it holds seminars and webinars and it's targeted at those people and really helps them to connect, share war stories. And it's been a great success.

Jason: [00:30:04] Thanks, Charlotte. That's interesting stuff. And Jeremy, over to you. Could we have your comment on a time you or your team sought to be innovative and produced a great result?

Jeremy: [00:30:17] So AIA is a life insurance business. But at the moment, some of the most exciting work that we're doing that I feel really strongly about. As the delivery of new products and services actually improve health outcomes for our customers and actually prevent claims from happening in the first place. And the legal team players are really important role when you're trying to establish and deliver those new services. So we've found as an insurer that by focusing on preventative steps and changing behavioural risk factors, we can really make quite a big difference to the health outcomes of our customers and reduce insurance claims, which of course has a good financial consequence for us with our claims experience. So just to provide some sort of examples of that. So at the moment we're working on this partnership program with a social enterprise called Precure. And under that program we work with this partner to work with customers that have prediabetes or Type two diabetes and support them to improve their condition through dietary intervention. And they get a really cool app and they get support. And of course, we're seeing how our customers respond to that program. And there are great outcomes for both our customers and of course us as the insurer with a reduction of claims. And there's also another one very similar to that that we've done in Australia with the cancer coach program. So you know, obviously when you're diagnosed with cancer it's a really, really scary time and to be provided with a coach and support to navigate through that, we found that our customers were a lot more involved and their own health outcomes and they felt better engaged with their health care. And again, that leads to better health outcomes for our customers and also leads to better outcomes for us because our customers come off claim quicker and we also reduce secondary claims because mental illness claims often follow from a from a claim of the nature of cancer. So just a couple of tangible examples there. And you might be asking, how are the lawyers involved with that? Well, we often deliver these programs through partnerships. So there's, of course, the contracting and the establishing the relationship for the particular partner, but maybe less obvious as the aspect around data and how we can use data that's generated from those programs and both the legal and ethical way we want to deliver these programs because they are supporting our customers, but they also are profitable and we want to be able to measure the success of these programs, both for our customers and for our business. And lawyers have a really important role to play at there, whether it be privacy, compliance, navigating the use of data, and just finding ways to tangibly measure the success of such initiatives. So those would be my examples.

Jason: [00:33:18] Thanks, Jeremy. Now, those were all really good examples of an in-house lawyer being involved in aspects of the business that are well beyond traditional black letter lawyering. And I think that's it's really interesting to hear that from you in that regard. So thanks for that. Just at this, we're about half way through the session. And as far as I can see, we haven't had any questions yet from attendees. So just a message to you all. Feel free to to fire any questions free through. And we'll put those to our panelists if they come through. And so with that, I'll pass over to you guys.

Gus: [00:34:00] Thanks, Jason. Look, I'm not meaning to pick on you, Jeremy, but I think this is a question we might carry on with. And I think it probably flows from the last point or the last question you were you would answering, and that is to comment on the challenges, the risks and rewards of innovation that you have experienced and your views on those and those balancing acts, if you like.

Jeremy: [00:34:25] Yeah, I think one of the biggest risks in the industry that I work in is actually not innovating and not innovating because we work in a really competitive life insurance industry where the core products sold by our competitors are quite similar to ours and the products are similarly priced as well. So if you don't distinguish yourself by innovating your position in the market or soon be compromised. And you know, we're talking about balancing innovation and risk. And you can see why that needs to happen, because innovation often sits right on the edge of what might be legally or ethically possible. So looking to sort of risk management techniques, getting involved early with projects so you can identify risks as is is really important. But there are other things that you can do as well. So we touched earlier on making sure that you reach out to external legal counsel for their for their special specialty areas when needed. Also engaging with your regulators early is really important, particularly when you're dealing with sort of principle based legislation, which is really common in the financial services sector. And the boundaries around where the law might be aren't necessarily crystal clear. And there are other some other techniques as well. So really trying to encourage testing and learning and sort of proof of concept environments before you launch something. I think those would be my sort of key takeaways around around managing legal risk. I think the other thing as well is that some of us are very fortunate to have have specialist risk teams within our organisation. So just reaching out to them to help you to move through risks as well as really, really important.

Gus: [00:36:19] Thanks, Jeremy. That's really interesting. I think your first point in particular really resonated with me that there's a risk in not innovating. That's absolutely right. And it's something that people don't think about very often. For those who've got a bit of a literary bent, they might call it the Red Queen Effect from Alice in Wonderland, where you've got to run fast to stay still, that if you don't, you'll just go backwards. It's a really good point to make. Alright, same question over to you, Georgina Risks rewards challenges of innovation in your view.

Georgina: [00:36:49] So look, I think I had a few of the same points noted as Jeremy is that, you know, innovation is not seen as a priority. It in itself presents its risk. You know, we're very similar. You know, it's otherwise you just get left behind and your industry and look, some of the challenges, I guess, internally that I highlighted that we've seen with innovation as is getting the buy in from the business know if it's a legally if it's legal innovation we're trying to push or it's being driven from the myself and my general counsel know it's wanting to get the end user involved and sometimes it's that's difficult you know, if they see it as potentially being more of a hindrance. So as we've sort of highlighted throughout this is getting people involved early. Failing to do that, it becomes incredibly hard. And also just the time, you know, I find time a real sort of challenge to overcome when you're looking to innovate. We spoke previously now and our sort of our topic in our previous discussions about you're working in the business versus working on the business and where you can even pull that time from. So those are probably a couple of the challenges that I'd add in there.

Gus: [00:38:00] Yeah. Thanks, Georgina. That's really good. And look, just I will turn to Charlotte in a minute, but I've just seen a question pop up, which I'll just note so you can all think about it while Charlotte's adding her comments, and that is any examples. It's self conscious now. Any examples of how an external law firm has helped you to innovate? So just think about that as I turn to Charlotte to comment on the same question. Risks rewards challenges of innovation.

Charlotte: [00:38:28] Yeah. I think the risks where people don't like change and don't really want things differently. And it's it's basically a it's a communication strategy, taking them along, taking them along for the ride, explaining what the benefits are for them, helping an idea to land properly once and once an innovative idea is rejected. It's quite hard to get back get back on track to to re pitch. So yeah, that first impression I'd suggest to anyone who has an idea to change something if they have to take it to someone senior to really think about how they're going to pitch that idea and how it's going to benefit the business, the business in the long run, because some things like innovation and the and the introduction of software, it's a cost and it takes a lot of time. So that end game that that rewards and and what you really want to get out of it and what you expect in the long run to make it worth the sort of pain and the and the cost. That's that's the thing to focus on most of all and and take the time to prepare yourself for that discussion.

Gus: [00:39:39] That's an excellent point. I like getting getting buy in from the key stakeholders. It's a really good point. Certainly something we encounter in our practice where we have brilliant people with fantastic inventions but don't know how to translate that into business, speak for want of a better term, to how to actually sell the idea as a practical in the market idea. It's a really common problem.

Charlotte: [00:40:01] For I guess I also think in a team and having the time set aside to discuss innovative ideas and what could change because there might be people in the team who have something brilliant but feel a bit silly raising it or don't have the right forum or don't feel supported or just think that change is not something that's possible. So yeah, it's creating the forums and having those discussions and taking the time out of the day to day. Being on the tools is also valuable.

Gus: [00:40:32] All right. I did pose the question a minute ago. If you've encountered external law firms who've assisted you in being innovative. Do any of you have any comments on that?

Jason: [00:40:46] We won't we won't accept. It's never happened as an answer in this case.

Jeremy: [00:40:53] I think you touched earlier on that concept of availability. I know that's not particularly innovative, but I'd like to hope we're moving further and further away from long written opinions and just having those informal conversations, particularly when you're talking lawyer to lawyer to lawyer, you don't necessarily need those big, lengthy opinions. You know, I've seen some pretty cool software solutions from external legal counsel that sort of make you take stock of what's what's out there and what can help you manage your practice from from simple things like AMP verification, doing that electronically. You know, as a financial service provider, we have parts of our business that require amount, due diligence and screening, etc.. So, you know, I've seen some pretty cool examples from lawyers of what you can do in that space, managing documents efficiently when you're going through large transactions and utilizing the technology that external legal counsel have available to them as well. That's probably another good example.

Gus: [00:42:05] Excellent. Anyone else to comment on that topic?

Jason: [00:42:11] I guess I'd like to pick up on the three of I'd like to pick up on the threat of software if we can. And look, this is old. This is old hat now. But to give an example, when I first started using speech recognition software maybe about eight years ago, I found it was a huge it's a simple piece of software. It's comparatively cheap. And it was it produced really huge efficiency gains. So I found it was particularly useful for me in drafting long documents, and I estimate that my drafting sped up by about 20% by by by using software and there was a few sort of challenges to overcome because you need to learn to, to speak as you would like a person to read your text. So but once I hit a little hurdles like that, I just found huge gains. Now, as I say, that's that's not a new software solution. But I'm interested to hear from some of the panelists about how specific pieces of software have have have led to efficiency gains or other improvements in the business. Any comments on that?

Charlotte: [00:43:17] I've got an example, Jason. So we use Salesforce here as our CRM tool for our keeping our client information and we get an RFP here at Warren and Mahoney and opportunities to submit for a project. I was getting emails from individuals in the marketing team to tell me where the where the contract was and where the project was and these kinds of things. But through Salesforce, I was able to find a way of automating, automating that information so that it was all filled in, in a form when the marketing person received the opportunity. And it's, it's a one stop shop where everyone can look and see exactly what the project is, what the construction value is, where it is, the contract, all the RFP documentation, all in one place. And it meant that I wasn't I didn't have to go back and forth for the for the information over and over. I was able to just automate it by getting an automated email to my inbox. So I think I'm looking at the software that already exists before jumping in, buying something new, and that's particularly focused at legal. You might find that you can find shortcuts just through what's already been.

Jason: [00:44:38] Great answer, Charlotte, about how the answer might be be there and there in front of you. And it's just a matter of looking, looking to see it. Any comment on the use of software? Georgina.  

Georgina: [00:44:47] Yeah. So Jason, I guess I'm speaking from, you know, we're right in the sort of the beginning stages of implementing software. So we're, we're living through this innovative process at the moment in looking at sort of a contract management mesh management type of software. And I know someone ask the question about how external councils help you to innovate. Well, I guess not strictly speaking, but, you know, I reached out to a lot of other in-house counsel to ask what software they were using, what they found help, what didn't. But as I've sort of harped on about, you know, here at Mainfreight, we're all very collaborative and empowering the team. And so I was able to through presenting the software to the team, they were able to see that they would actually take back a lot of autonomy over, you know, automating some of these contracts that they can do themselves, obviously with checks and balances required for legal risk and everything like that. But so we're right in the middle of that now and we've realised where the software is going to help us. And so yeah, maybe check back in a couple of months and see how my innovative idea has taken flight. But yeah, I, I see the transparency in the workflow and enables the team, as Charlotte sort of said, you know, everyone to see it where it's at and you don't have constant sort of questions and have you reviewed this or where's this at? So we're, we're starting our software journey.

Jason: [00:46:08] Yeah, I think thanks to Georgina, I think workflow software, workflow facilitating software packages are increasingly sort of widely used and I think something that must be looked at in the case of most businesses. So, Gus, we've had an interesting question.

Gus: [00:46:28] Yes, I was going to relay it. I'm sure you can all see it, but we've had a question posed. Can you provide examples where people have come to you, cynical or frustrated about including in-house legal and how you change their mind? We can either put you on the spot with that or give you a couple of minutes to think about it while we turn to another topic. I might opt for the latter and turn over to Jason to ask one of the other questions we've discussed and return to that one.

Jason: [00:46:57] Yeah. So the theme of today's talk is innovation. But there's just something else that that would interest that I'd like to hear about from the panelists about in-house roles. And that's that flows from the fact that lawyers have a special skill set. I'm not saying we're any better than anyone else, but there's a particular method and way of thinking that a lot of lawyers deploy. And that comes about through, I think, legal training. And I'd be interested to know the ways that legal skills assist you in in for the benefit of your your role and the business as you work with it, even outside of when you're doing traditional legal work. Would anyone like to comment on that? I've got a few things in mind, but someone might want to jump in. So for example, if you go to jail.

Charlotte: [00:47:57] I think a legal skill that is really useful for this is that an innovation you really want to pin down the problem that you're trying to solve? And that's probably the most important thing. You can come up with lots of interesting ideas, but what is actually the issue I think really nutting down into that is something that lawyers are naturally good at. I think our skills mean that we get right to the crunch as fast as we can.

Jason: [00:48:24] And that's an analysis, isn't it? And when you when you've worked in an external as an external lawyer and when times of the essence, it becomes really important to develop that analytical skill and roll it out really quickly. And so, yeah, that resonates with me. Charlotte, any, any comment on that, Jeremy and Jeremy.

Jeremy: [00:48:47] One of the other things as well is more of a soft skill than a technical skill is. You know, lawyers are often facing very high stress situations where there are a lot of things happening all at once, whether that be in a commercial setting or in or in a courtroom setting. So bringing that level of calm, breaking things down into their components, having that sort of analytical view, figuring out what's the most important to tackle first. And instead of working at things that are methodical level, I think are all things that lawyers are good at.

Georgina: [00:49:21] I'd just touch base, I guess, with just objectivity. A lot of the times and problems that are raised in the business and the team have a very sort of narrow minded approach and that's very subjective. So I think as lawyers we can take that objective view on a problem or an issue and deal with it that way.

Jason: [00:49:37] So yeah, I wonder if having the sort of dual roles as both a legal professional and a person within the business might might help with that objectivity because you sort of you've got those two sides to yourself, don't you? Georgina.  

Georgina: [00:49:50] Yeah.

Jeremy: [00:49:52] Great. That's some that's interesting to hear. So would you like to pose the thorny question to the to the.

Gus: [00:49:59] Well, exactly. Just has anyone thought of an example that answers that question or response to that question about where people have come to you, cynical and frustrated about in-house legal and how you've changed their minds? Any any comments or stories on that?

Charlotte: [00:50:17] I've found marketing and comms teams in particular, because legal compliance can really get in the way of a good story. So it's that's a good example of really trying to be solutions focused rather than just redlining through their work. And I think that's depending from business to business, that can be an area where they might be a bit reluctant to get legal involved, but actually that's extremely important. So you want to build those relationships to get them on board early.

Gus: [00:50:56] One that occurs to me is that we've engaged in very large pieces of litigation over the years, and we often do a sort of a review when the heat has died down and the dust has settled, or whatever your your cliche is, come back and as honestly as possible, assess what went well, what went badly for both the client and the practitioner, and try genuinely to learn from that. And and, you know, frankly, the older I get, the more I realize you learn much more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. But the important thing is to recognize the mistakes, so to speak, and try and extract the correct the correct lesson, if there is one there. So that kind of reflection or active reflection, I think is certainly a way in which you can certainly constantly improve your performance. Certainly in our role, I guess that's innovation. I'm not sure if it's directly innovation, but it's certainly a way to constantly improve.

Jason: [00:51:51] Having been part of an exercise like that for a really substantial client, I can attest that it's a really useful exercise, but it's quite a daunting one. But. But in the end, really, really useful. Oh, Gus, go ahead.

Gus: [00:52:03] One one final comment I was going to make on that particular topic. And it relates to something you said earlier, Charlotte, that oftentimes we're at the end of a chain of decisions and there may be problems by the time the decision that's almost been made comes to us. Typically, this comes up, for example, in trademarks where it's gone through a marketing team and external advertising consultant, etc. They've come up with what they think is a fantastic mark or a fantastic campaign. They've spent a lot of money on it. They come to our trademark attorneys who then go, Yeah, there's three marks already like that on the register in multiple countries where you want to go, So what do you want to do? You've probably wasted a lot of that investment. Obviously, the answer is to get us in a little bit early, give us a list of potentials we can start searching earlier, etc.. It's it's a simple example, but it can save enormous amounts of money and frustration and a lot of time. It's certainly one that occurs to me, yeah.

Jason: [00:53:04] There's a questions come in and I think it might be a useful final question if the panel agrees, because it looks forward to the in-house lawyers of the future or or the more senior in-house lawyers of the future. While it's not not tied to innovation and the question is from an anonymous attendee, what types of what type what areas of expertise do the panelists look for when hiring new team members? So let's let's perhaps close with that question. I might start with with you, Charlotte. What types of expertise do you look for in a new potential new team member in your legal team?

Charlotte: [00:53:47] So the answer again would depend on the nature of the business and the skills that were required for that particular role. But I recently hired someone in my team here at Warren and Mahoney, and I was looking for someone with really good contract drafting skills, good negotiation skills, and someone who's willing to roll up their sleeves and give anything a go and someone who's really interested in solving problems and building relationships. Basically, it sounds like I found the perfect person, but that does sound like kind of plus. But yeah. You want someone who is a. Got those really hard legal skills but is also fixable and likes problem solving and and getting them to the nitty gritty of any kind of issue.

Jason: [00:54:39] Thanks Charlotte and Georgina, can I just point that question to you? What would you. What areas of expertise or qualities might you look for when hiring a new team member?

Georgina: [00:54:49] Well, look, you know, as I said, I started straight in-house. So, look, I whilst legal skills, you know, those hard legal skills would be fantastic. You know, some of the words that Charlotte in those qualities at Charlotte say, look, flexibility, adaptability, you know, really wanting to just get in and learn that desire to continue learning is a big probably a big one for us, you know, a cultural fit for the business. You know, I think Charlotte said it really depends where you're working and everything like that. But especially here at Mainfreight, you know, we have a cultural fit which would be given consideration to. And the desire to grow with the business I think is really important. We're a small legal team, but we're a big business and just yet just really wanting to get in, give it a go, maybe being able to throw out some of those hard, you know, the things you've learnt in private practice in terms of your structure and everything like that. Because I mean your day can go from one thing to another to this to that. So just flexibility really again, yeah.

Jason: [00:55:49] Georgina That's some I really echo that because you can learn legal skills, but attitudinal orientation, you know, being that, being having the right sort of outlook and perspective is something that's maybe not impossible to learn but much, much harder. And so, so yeah, I really echo there. And so Jeremy, just to say.

Georgina: [00:56:07] Oh, sorry, sorry, just one last thing and it sounds really cliche and people probably put it on job applications, you know, a people person, but I think it's really is an in-house role. As we've said, you know, fostering relationships is really important. So you need to have that ability to work with everyone to get.

Jason: [00:56:24] That to get that buy in. That's been a theme that's recurred throughout the talk. Absolutely. And so thanks, Georgina. And so the last, last word I think to you, Jeremy, what would you look for in terms of qualities and expertise in a new team member?

Jeremy: [00:56:41] Well, we've had great answers from from Charlotte and Georgina. I think some of the things that really resonate with me is that your technical skills are great, but it's all about relationships. And I really echo Georgina's quote around that cultural fit where we're organisations that have quite a clear purpose and you've got to actually be motivated by that purpose and be excited about what the business is doing. Otherwise you're just not going to be the right fit for our team. We're a team that works really well together. We always have each other's back. And to ban that supportive environment where you know, everyone has your back, you can go on leave and your matters will be looked after nicely. And it's just a really, really reassuring environment to be in when you have that cultural balance really, really right. And that's set from the top. The CEO is your general counsel through the entire team. There needs to be that that cultural tone that flows right through.

Jason: [00:57:39] Thanks Jeremy, that's. Look, I. All of that resonates with me. So, Gus, would you like to. I think we've got 2 minutes left, so I might pass it to you for the absolute final word.

Gus: [00:57:51] Oh, dear. Thanks, Jason, and thanks to everybody. I found that a really interesting discussion, really useful with the kind of discussion I could carry on for quite a long time. Frankly, there's a lot to learn from you, and I found it really, really interesting. One of the things that I guess is echoing in my head just because of the the last two and a half years we've been through that Georgina touched on, is the innovation being forced on us or new practices and new methods being forced on us by adversity and. No one wants adversity, but it can have useful outcomes. And this very webinar we're having is an example, I suppose, of just that the use of this kind of software is has kind of been forced on us over the last two and a half years and we have used and did use it before, but nothing like the way we do now. And it has changed our day to day practice and it's a really obvious one. We all we're all kind of sick of Zoom, but it's also really a blessing. So it works. Yeah, it does. And look, in our practice in litigation, it's saved me trips which I couldn't have taken anyway to go to courts in Australia for very short hearings. And I've had judges say this is much better than having everyone milling around in my court room for hours to have their 10 minutes little hearing. So that certainly probably resonates a lot with me. In any event, I just wanted to say thank you very much to Jeremy, Georgina and Charlotte. You've been excellent panelists and really interesting people to to have just private as well as this public discussion with one of you apparently is going to end up being a winner of the in-house award or the in-house lawyer award. I think I couldn't pick you. You're all excellent. So thank you very much for your time and effort on this.

Charlotte: [00:59:36] Thank you, Gus. Thank you, Jason.  

Georgina: [00:59:37] Thanks everyone.

Jeremy: [00:59:37] Appreciate it very much.

Jason: [00:59:39] Great to get to know you. Thank you. Cheers.

Charlotte: [00:59:41] Thanks.