It is a hard sell to convince lawyers that they need to learn how to innovate. However, when we consider the skillset and mindset that is honed in the process of learning how to innovate, this decision should be a no-brainer. This is because, as discussed in the prior chapter (Innovation: A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education), the call for innovation by clients is also a call for service transformation. When clients ask their lawyers to innovate, they are asking for their lawyers to co-collaborate more proactively and with a different mindset and skillset. The easy sell is that, in the process of learning how to innovate, lawyers learn to do just that: they learn to co-collaborate and hone the mindset and skillset that clients desire. An additional and under-emphasized benefit to learning how to innovate and honing the innovator’s DNA is that we also hone the DNA of leaders. When you compare the key qualities of an inclusive, adaptive leader with the key qualities of an innovator, they overlap. Research demonstrates that innovators, like leaders, have high emotional intelligence and communication skills: they are empathetic, open- and growth-minded, self-aware, associative, and audacious. This is why I believe that all lawyers should try their hand at innovation, even if their business model is not broken. This is also why I believe that innovation should be the new, key discipline in legal education for practicing and aspiring lawyers. By teaching practicing and aspiring lawyers how to innovate, we are, in turn teaching collaboration and leadership—and the lawyers don’t even know it. It’s like getting away with putting broccoli in someone’s ice cream—it’s the secret sauce.
But it’s not an easy sauce to whip together. That is, although these benefits may make the need for teaching innovation an easy sell, teaching lawyers how to innovate is not an easy task. This chapter (first published by Stämpfli Verlag in the book: New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World) begins by explaining why this is so and why we need to utilize a method of innovation designed specifically for lawyers. It then describes the method of teaching innovation that I designed, re-designed, and tested over the past 10 years on over 200 multidisciplinary teams that included lawyers, business professionals, and law and business students: The 3-4-5 Method of Innovation for Lawyers. It then explains the secret sauce, why this new method works. Finally, this chapter concludes with a call to action for law schools, law firms, and legal departments to put on “New Suits” by creating a culture that inspires lawyers and aspiring lawyers to learn how to innovate (i.e., that cultivates intrinsic motivation) and that provides external rewards (the extrinsic motivation) to those that do.
DeStefano, Michele, The Secret Sauce to Teaching Collaboration and Leadership to Lawyers: The 3-4-5 Method of Innovation (June 27, 2019). New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World, co-curated by Michele DeStefano and Dr. Guenther Dobrauz (Stämpfli Verlag 2019); University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN.