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22 Sep 2020

The Burning Issues of 2020 | Speaker Q&A: Part 1

There are the big issues and then there are the big issues.

The former will be discussed and dissected at November’s Legal Innovation & Tech Fest – Digital. They include putting customers before the technology; managed legal services; using metrics to evaluate outside counsel; creating a culture of innovation; humans in the workplace; and all things legal tech.

The latter category of big issues – we address here.

Take five as five of our rockstar speakers answer some of 2020’s burning questions about the year that was,  improving the legal industry, the best professional advice they ever received and something surprisingly good.

How would you answer them?


You’re going back in time and writing a User Manual for 2020 – give us your top instruction?


Emilie Vittini: My top instruction would be to embrace the year 2020. Do not hold out for things to go back to "normal". Instead, welcome this year as an opportunity to question your assumptions and have a positive impact during this time of hardship. For example, during lockdown, I used my spare time to help my in-laws revamp the website for their hotel / restaurant business which I'm pleased to say has resulted in an increased number of bookings.

Jamal Stockton: Sell real estate in January, buy stocks in March.

Caryn Sandler: Whatever you do, think about the user.

Chris Fowler: Don't wait for a crisis to be kind to yourself.

Sharon Draper: Maintain all the relationships with those you feel connected to.


If you could rule the world for a day, what one thing would you change about your industry?

Emilie Vittini: My response may come as a surprise, but I would increase the budgets allocated to Legal Aid. Access to justice is a real issue in our society and the people who dedicate their life to helping those in need are working on ridiculously tight budget.

Jamal Stockton: Standards in the justice system.

Caryn Sandler: Legal has always been characterised as a risk adverse industry – this is what makes lawyers successful. Being more open to change across the entire industry.

Chris Fowler: Making a radical improvement to access to justice and cost to serve.

Sharon Draper: I’d ensure each person has lifetime access to a supportive platform that helps them learn about themselves (why they think and behave the way they do) to develop agency over their actions and nurture their self-compassion.

This will enhance their ability to connect (and work) with people in a respectful, empathic and encouraging way as opposed to projecting their insecurities onto others and inciting defensive barriers that fuel disconnection. I believe if everyone had a safe space they could emotionally grow in, the workplace and ultimately the world, would be a better place.

Name something you find surprisingly good?

Emilie Vittini: During lockdown, I spent time painting and repairing small objects that had been neglected over the years and it was surprisingly relaxing. It also felt great to give a second life to those objects.

Jamal Stockton: Peaches.

Caryn Sandler: Art – very therapeutic.

Chris Fowler: Making my own lockdown sushi – didn’t think it would be possible.


What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?

Emilie Vittini: "Before you talk, listen". This simple piece of advice was very useful when I first started my career as a customer support representative. As a result, I made sure that I was not just taking customers through a scripted sequence of steps but instead ensured I took time to listen to their requirements. More recently in my career, the same advice has been incredibly useful when designing products. It's important not to jump straight to the solutions. Our clients should feel heard when expressing their challenges and have confidence that the solution will be designed to meet their specific needs.

Jamal Stockton: If you have something passionate to say, sit on it for 24 hours.

Caryn Sandler: When I transitioned from a client-facing M&A legal role to a Corporate Knowledge Lawyer role in 2010, I remember a very senior partner saying that I should never be constrained by a ‘role description’ and to make every role your own – this advice has always stuck with me.

Chris Fowler: You won’t get to the next job doing what you have done to get this job and the definition of madness is doing nothing and expecting things to change.

Sharon Draper: Trust the process!


Don’t miss the insights and case studies that will be shared at the Legal Innovation & Tech Fest – Digital on 19–20 & 23-24 November, 2020.







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