Digital Transformation, Diversity, and Corporate Law: A Q&A by Deirdre Leone
Digital transformation is creating enormous change and opportunity in the legal industry. Technology is making way for legal professionals to advance their skills and become greater business assets to their organizations. Along with the advancement in technology, there remains a need for greater diversity in the legal profession to help with progress. Deirdre Leone, VP of Sales, North America at ContractPodAi shares her perspective in this Q&A on the need for greater diversity in legal and corporate law.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PROMOTE WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY AND HAVE DIVERSITY IN LEGAL?
When we promote women in the legal industry, we are promoting progress. Traditionally, the legal industry has been male-dominated. According to the American Bar Association’s National Lawyer Population Survey, women made up 30 percent of the legal profession in 2007. As of 2017, the percentage of women in the legal profession rose slightly to 35 percent.
It is important for women working in the profession to not only help those looking to join the industry but to help the women within to advance to higher levels. In addition, when we promote women in the legal industry, we are promoting progress. This comes from the diversity of thought and experience. We need these different perspectives so that the legal system can continue to be fair for everyone.
DO YOU SEE A TREND OF MORE WOMEN BEING ATTRACTED INTO A CORPORATE CONTRACT MANAGEMENT SPACE SPECIFICALLY?
I do. The corporate environment is a little less intimidating than the traditional law firm environment for most women. This perspective comes from my own sales experience as a woman selling into corporate legal departments.
WHY ARE MORE WOMEN GRAVITATING TOWARDS CORPORATE GENERAL COUNSEL POSITIONS?
Female representation at the C-level which is a General Counsel position is still low. Diversity at the top is the ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, there are many of us who still feel like we have to make a choice about whether to move forward in our careers or strive to Along with advancement in technology, there remains a need for greater diversity in the legal profession. There has to be the ultimate work/life balance with raising a family and perhaps having to stall our career.
It is critical for organizations to create environments, institute policies, and further corporate mandates that remove barriers and challenges so that women do not have to choose. This work is not one-sided and needs to be undertaken by both the men and women in an organization as a collective effort.
Today we are dealing with a leftover legacy of very specific gender roles. Men must be encouraged to take parental leave and participate more fully in their family life. We also need to celebrate and support more women to develop their skills and commitment to advancing their careers. Together, we can achieve that ultimate work/life balance for us all and more diversity in legal in general.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING THEIR CAREER IN CORPORATE LAW (MALE OR FEMALE)?
The role of in-house legal departments is evolving. But, to meet the new demands and responsibilities, corporate lawyers need to understand digital transformation. They need to understand the nuances associated with the technology available to their profession and how these solutions are going to help offload some of the traditional high-volume work.
As a result, they will be able to start focusing on things such as process mapping and change management. However, these are business skills that will separate the lawyer from the lawyer/ business leader/ technology leader that every organization needs today, and improve the issue of diversity in legal.
IF YOU WERE SPEAKING TO A WOMEN-DOMINATED GRADUATING CLASS OF BUDDING LEGAL PROFESSIONALS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM ABOUT DIVERSITY IN LEGAL?
In short, don’t be afraid to take charge. Ask yourself how you can become more confident in finding solutions, pushing them forward and getting the buy-in from your colleagues. Also, make yourself an expert. Go out there and get more education. Continue to network with your peers, other females in the industry, increase diversity in legal, and increase your circle of confidence.
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