Nick Watson Joins Centre For Legal Innovation Advisory Board

The Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI), a think tank at the College of Law in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, has appointed well-known legal tech founder Nick Watson of Ruby Datum to its Advisory Board and as the group’s UK representative.

CLI provides thought leadership, practical research, and opportunities for collaboration to support legal professionals in relation to innovation, (see interview below).

As well as managing virtual data room Ruby Datum, Watson also runs the popular LawTech London meet-ups.

CLI’s Advisory Board has representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and USA, working in law firms, in-house in legal departments, law schools, legal consultancies and legal start-ups.

The Board for 2020-2021 will be led by Co-chairs Warrick McLean, CEO, Coleman Greig Lawyers, and Caryn Sandler, Partner and Chief Knowledge & Innovation Officer, Gilbert + Tobin.

Other member of the CLI board include (among others) – Terri Mottershead, Executive Director of CLI; Sam Flynn Co-Founder and COO, Josef; Rajesh Sreenivasan, Head, Technology Media and Telecoms Practice, Rajah & Tann Singapore; and Renee Knake, Professor of Law and Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics, University of Houston Law Center.

Speaking to Artificial Lawyer about the role, Watson said: ‘I spent a few weeks in Australia last year exploring the legal scene. I discovered a lot of congruity with the scene here in the UK, but above all a sense of co-operation and friendship between the different legal tech companies.

‘With the support of Terri and CLI, I feel there is a thriving community building in Australia and around the world. We have a lot to learn from Australia, and I feel they can benefit from what we have to offer here in the UK. As the UK representative for CLI, I’m confident we can build a bridge between the two countries.’

Artificial Lawyer also caught up with Terri Mottershead, Executive Director of CLI, and asked her some more about this innovation-focused organisation operating in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region – and more broadly around the world.

Terri Mottershead, CLI

Are the international representatives a new development?

No, we had reps from Australia, New Zealand and USA on our inaugural Board from 2017. We added Singapore in 2018 and for the first time now have also added the UK. The expansion is tracking The College of Law’s expansion and CLI’s evolution and global reach. The College of Law has been around in Australia for a long time and expanded to New Zealand also some time ago. The College of Law Asia is based in Singapore. The College of Legal Practice recently launched in the UK.

What is the goal of the international reach?

We strongly believe that legal innovation and legal tech may have local nuances but really know no boundaries – we want to ensure we focus on next practices and share them with the legal industry and to do that, we need to learn from, contribute to and foster a global learning community.

How does CLI operate?

CLI is was established in 2016 to provide thought leadership, practical research (through our Fellowships and industry partnerships) and opportunities for collaboration to support the legal industry as we all navigate the disruption and new technologies transforming the way we work and deliver our services and products.

We focus on multi-disciplinary, practical solutions for change. We also support emerging talent in legal innovation through our Young Legalpreneurs Scholarship which we launched last year.

The work of CLI is, as you know, guided by an international advisory board that provides advice on all aspects of the CLI’s work, including the development of innovation-focussed courses and determining topics for our future roundtables, summits, events, labs, incubators, workshops and research papers.

We don’t think of ourselves as ‘based’ anywhere because we are virtual (a different way of looking at being ‘based’) but I am in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, as is the CLI Coordinator. I travel extensively. We have ‘office space’ wherever The College has a presence in Australia, New Zealand, Asia or the UK.

We are fully funded by The College of Law and operate as a non-revenue generating business unit (we don’t have revenue goals). We see this as really important and what differentiates us i.e. it allows CLI to provide a non-partisan platform for exchanges to occur. We are also The College’s contribution to the discourse and support of the practising professions (all the professions in the legal industry) as they transform.

It’s also why we can make a lot of our resources available for free e.g. through our CLI-Collaborate (CLIC) resource hub. I think of us as the R & D department and consultant/adviser in legal innovation (including legal tech) for The College internally and we work to serve that function externally too particularly for small and medium sized legal practices.

We have a staff of two but we have the resources and backing of senior management and all shared services in The College of Law Australia, New Zealand, Asia and The College of Legal Practice in the UK and…a huge, amazingly talented group of volunteers who donate their time and share our values, mission and passion for legal innovation (including legaltech).

Could you please expand on what the Legalpreneurs Lab and Chief Innovation Officers Forum provide?

The Legalpreneurs Lab was established in 2019 as a one stop shop for people who are time poor but want (or need) to know how the legal world is changing and what to do about it. It’s not about theory. It’s a how to do, practical solutions driven forum for and by people who are ‘doing legal transformation’. We provide lots of opportunities for members to connect and learn from each other, in-person or online. People pay to join.

The main benefits of the Lab right now are:

·         The Geeky Gurus (opportunity for a 15 min free consultation with specialists in named areas)

·         Monthly member only virtual briefing sessions – we launch the Geeky Guru in Residence monthly series on 3 Feb (tomorrow) and launch a monthly cybersecurity briefing series on 10 Feb.

·         Our incubators – these launch in Australia in May 2020 and will provide member firms the opportunity to choose an innovative practice they would like to implement and participate in monthly group coaching calls, facilitated by a specialist in that area, to work with them and support that implementation over a 6-12 month period. This will allow participants to choose something their firm/org wants/needs to change and get support from people going through the same process but also from a specialist facilitator in that area to help them actually make that happen over time or learn from failure. We’ll share key aspects of what we learn with all Lab members.

·         Our Special Interest Groups – these allow members to drill down on things of most interest to them and exchange info and connect just on these issues – we have six SIGs which you will see here:

And we will no doubt expand and revise these benefits as we work with our members through these initiatives.

The Chief Innovation Officers Forum (CIOF) was launched in Australia in 2018 and New Zealand in 2019 (we hope to launch in Singapore in 2020) as a community of senior professionals driving change and innovation initiatives who come together to share experience and exchange ideas. The work of the CIOF is guided by an international Steering Group comprising members from a range of professional service organisations who meet regularly to collaborate and design CIOF events, workshops and thought leadership activities. People pay to join.

What’s unusual about the CIOF is that it a global network of competitors, clients and consultants who have come together as a learning community or innovation tribe, committed to helping their organisations deliver better solutions and also committed to helping each other to be and do better. The CIOF is a forum ‘by the members for the members’ and where ‘collaboration’ is an integral part of its DNA.

Because innovators are often trail blazers, they do not always have access to others with the same knowledge or skill sets. Also, as the professional services innovation community has grown, so too has the need to define sets of competencies that can support the career paths of these intrapreneurs as well as specialist career coaches, mentors and sponsors. The CIOF was established with these industry deficits in mind and a commitment to finding ways to close the gaps and establish next (beyond best) practices through collaborations across professional services industries.

We will assemble our first CIOF Working Group this month to collate information, discuss and we hope make recommendations (towards the end of the year) about the emerging, common key competencies of innovation professionals around the world.

Thanks, Terri, that’s an impressive range of projects and initiatives that CLI is working on. And, congrats to Nick, hopefully that means we’ll be getting some speakers from CLI at the next LawTech London event.

To find out more about CLI or to get in contact, see here.