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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, And Innovation in Law

Legal UpheavalMichele DeStefano (Miami) Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law (2018):

In today’s legal marketplace, clients are demanding services that require a new skill set and a new mindset from lawyers. In Legal Upheaval, Professor Michele DeStefano lays out the trifecta for success in a changed legal landscape: creativity, collaboration, and innovation. DeStefano, a former marketing executive, now a professor at the University of Miami and guest faculty at Harvard Law School’s Executive Education program, has spent more than a decade researching the evolving legal marketplace. The book provides powerful evidence that collaboration toward innovation is the new value equation in law, creating stickier and more profitable client relationships.

In a conversational fashion, DeStefano takes us on a journey from why lawyers need to innovate to how they can do so. She unveils the Lawyer Skills Delta and maps out a methodology for filling the gaps in current legal skill sets: The 3 Rules of Engagement and The 3-4-5 Method of Innovation for Lawyers. Full of points of reflection, as well as concrete directions, Legal Upheaval makes innovation accessible.

Why should you learn how to innovate? Even if you agree that lawyers could use a refresher on creativity and collaboration, you might still be skeptical. This book is written to inspire lawyers and legal professionals to embrace innovation practices, even if their business model isn’t “broken.” In the process of innovating, lawyers hone the mindsets, skills, and habits that clients desire—and, in the future, that clients will require. The book is divided into three parts:

Part I: Why Lawyers Should Hone the Mindset, Skillset, and Behaviors of Innovators
Part II: The 3 Rules of Engagement: Creating a Culture of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation  
Part III: The Innovation Possible: Putting Together the Theory, Practice, and Proof

Each chapter concludes with points of reflection designed to help the reader determine what are the best approaches for the team, department, or firm. 

Born of DeStefano’s own work leading hundreds of multidisciplinary teams on innovation cycles, as well as conducting more than 100 interviews of general counsels and law firm partners, Legal Upheaval provides a new understanding of the expectations of clients. It is the playbook for lawyers looking to transform business relationships and create a client-leadership edge. 

An important book for an important time. Calling on extensive research and her own unparalleled experience, Michele DeStefano presents a compelling case that innovation in legal services is not only necessary but possible. Lawyers and law students at every stage of development would do well to embrace the prescient lessons in this book. — David Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law and faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School

This work is the most important contribution so far to our understanding of innovation in law. Blending extensive research with practicing lawyers, a deep appreciation of strategy and management and her own experience as a leading legal innovator, Michele DeStefano has written a book that should be read and acted upon by everyone interested in the future of legal service. — Professor Richard Susskind, author of “Tomorrow’s Lawyers”

A thought-provoking account of the unthinkable truth: All lawyers should learn how to innovate, even if their business model isn’t broken. A necessary read for anyone who wants to differentiate in the legal marketplace. — Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel and vice president of Business & Legal Affairs, Spotify

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