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19 Jun 2018

Innovation for In-House Counsel: L’oréal’s Perspective

Anna Lozynski

Legal is a relatively new function to some organisations, and many are only starting to come to terms with what innovation might mean. With the rise of the “capital L lawyer”, the in-house lawyer that is required to act beyond the role within a complex and constantly evolving business landscape, it is essential to continually assess how you can do things differently, remain open minded and be progressive.

As the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oréal is leading the digital revolution of the beauty industry.

In an enlightening session at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest, General Counsel of L’Oreal, Australia and New Zealand, Anna Lozynski, explained how their in-house legal team are key players in this revolution, and what opportunities exist for in-house legal teams to drive innovation within their organisations. Here’s what she had to say…

L’Oréal veteran, global CEO Jean Paul Agon, recently observed “What I see is a market that has changed more in the past three years than in the past 30 years”.

With science, innovation and passion as its core values, L’Oréal as the world’s largest cosmetics company is leading the digital revolution of the beauty industry.

L’Oreal ANZ’s digital journey followed the realisation that the provision of effective legal service for its 25 brands in Australia, 18 brands in New Zealand and 1200 employees across the region was an increasingly insurmountable challenge. Back in 2015, it was becoming increasingly apparent, for both strategic and practical reasons that in order to deliver support, drive efficiency and further align with L’Oréal’s values and strategic objectives, innovation needed to be a core part of the ANZ Legal Function’s strategy.

As a lawyer, working with IT experts is enlightening. Unsurprisingly, IT boffins are not on the whole experts in legal jargon, and lawyers are not algorithm savvy. On one level, automating an agreement is like playing a game of Jeopardy, where you need to ask the question that corresponds to the answer. The logic involved is quite different to drafting a precedent in Word. In turn, it’s a great opportunity to simplify agreements as well as critically assess the value of certain clauses.

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My many conversations about the concept of legal innovation across a diverse set of legal colleagues seem to attract a healthy degree of scepticism, coupled with a little judgment about how innovation, and specifically automation, may compromise existing quality lawyering practices. In that context:

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”, George Addair.

Is Innovation a Natural Fit for In-House Legal?

With innovation being a KPI for each manager at L’Oréal, during my recent year-end review, my CEO and manager commented that it was unusual to associate innovation with a legal function. That comment seems to bear some truth: only 10% of legal functions believe that they are currently effectively innovating. Yet 77% of legal functions believe that innovation is key to how they approach work as a legal function*.

Consider the following sentiment from L’Oréal’s global CEO and its relevance to the legal landscape:

“There is a new type of competition. Innovation has to be much faster. You have to be more agile, much more nimble”.

Legal being a relatively new function to some organisations is only starting to come to terms with what transformation/innovation might mean. With the rise of the capital L lawyer; the in-house lawyer that is required to act beyond the role within a complex and constantly evolving business landscape, it is essential to continually assess how you can do things differently, remain open minded and be progressive. Sure, other functions (IT, HR, Finance) have had a 20-year start, but lawyers have some catching up to do.

Legal Innovation is No Longer Just a Trend

In an era where change is the only constant, and where artificial intelligence or robotic process automation is being touted as the next business game changer, I don’t believe we can continue to categorise legal innovation as a mere trend.

If you find the whole topic daunting, then of course there’s certainly something to be said for thinking big but actually starting small. The point is to adopt a progressive mind set.  There is no doubt that legal innovation must be tailored to suit a company’s stakeholders and business alike. Embracing automation and technology has allowed L’Oréal ANZ Legal to partner productively with our businesses in a way that is both L’Oréal and beauty industry leading.

The beauty of legal innovation (small or big) is that it forces us as lawyers to look towards the future, think outside the box, and keep learning in new and perhaps unimaginable ways. As a lawyer, I personally find that to be seriously invigorating.

Hear what the world’s boldest legal innovators have to say at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest.

About the Author

Ana Lozynski

As the General Counsel of L’Oreal, Australia and New Zealand, Anna Lozynski sits on the Executive Committee and is the Security Officer for the Australian entity. Prior to joining L’Oréal, Anna worked in-house at General Motors (in Australia and Shanghai) and Westpac Banking Corporation, after working in M&A and as a commercial litigator with a major Australian firm.

Anna was a top rated presenter at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest.

*Research into innovation conducted by law firm Plexus 2016

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