This week’s Legal Innovators California Profile is with Kimberly Woodward, Senior Director Legal Operations & Chief of Staff at Okta, the pioneering customer and workforce identity provider.
– When did you first hear the term ‘legal innovation’ and what did you think at the time?
I’ve been hearing about legal innovation for years, often related to a new tool promising to be the next silver bullet to solve all of legal’s problems. Early in my career I was excited to discover the next big thing. Ultimately, I’ve yet to find that tool, but I will continue looking!
– What is your role now?
My current role covers running and managing Legal Operations and a team of Legal Ops professionals as well as serving as Chief of Staff to our CLO.
– Why did you move into this field?
I am a recovering lawyer who still dabbles in the practice of law behind the scenes when needed. As a lawyer, I have always loved rules and process and Legal Operations really lends itself to building out rules and processes in a way that makes the Legal department run smoothly and efficiently. I love to look at a difficult problem and find an elegant solution.
– What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Mentoring and developing new talent. I love delivering on my own initiatives, but nothing is more rewarding than seeing growth in others and watching them meet their own career objectives. Knowing I had even a little part in that is incredibly gratifying.
– If you looked into a crystal ball, how much do you think the everyday practice of law would change in the next five to ten years, especially given changes in AI?
I wish I had a crystal ball! All signs are pointing to significant societal change with the advances in AI so I feel like we couldn’t even guess at what is coming. That being said, I think that AI is going to become a partner to lawyers and those that don’t embrace the upcoming innovations in this space are likely to get left behind.
– What are the biggest challenges legal innovation now faces in the current climate?
Too many people are focused on solving the same problems and no-one has perfected the solutions that do exist. Throwing new tools at the same old problems leads us to constantly chasing our tails. Until someone or something can change the way Legal gets things done and moves us out of the ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mentality, it will be hard to see true innovation.
– And what are the greatest opportunities now for change across the legal sector?
The newest breakthroughs in AI are really exciting. Leveraging these technologies will really open the door for those who embrace them so that they can get out of some of the repeatable work of lawyering and really up level to focus on the creative and thoughtful parts of being a legal professional.
– And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the field of legal innovation and legal tech?
Embrace modern technologies and show the people around you how they can be leveraged to make their lives easier.
Thanks Kimberly! Looking forward to hearing you speak at Legal Innovators California, June 7 and 8 in San Francisco.
If you would like more information about the two-day event, please see here. Day One will focus on law firms and ALSPs, and Day Two will focus on inhouse and legal ops.
See you all there!
Richard Tromans, Founder of Artificial Lawyer and conference Chair