Jan Hards is the Director of Legal Innovation at Johnson Winter & Slattery. After years of practicing as a Corporate M&A Lawyer at Freshfields in the UK, and then later at Johnson Winter & Slattery, he made a deliberate move to become the firm’s Director of Legal Innovation. We discuss h
Publish Date: Feb 20, 2021
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Jan Hards is the Director of Legal Innovation at Johnson Winter & Slattery. After years of practicing as a Corporate M&A Lawyer at Freshfields in the UK, and then later at Johnson Winter & Slattery, he made a deliberate move to become the firm’s Director of Legal Innovation. We discuss how Jan worked through that decision, what were some assumptions that he made, and some of the challenges. We also explore how Jan and the business look at the innovation function - through five objective criteria:
Create efficiency at scale
Create value from information the firm holds
We also explore when and how Jan gets involved with client-facing projects (including pitches). Just a note, this episode originally aired as part of the Fringe Legal Virtual Summit in 2020, and much of what we discuss are still relevant today, but it’s important to have the time context. You can connect with Jan Hard via the JWS website or on LinkedIn.The full transcript is included below. If it's truncated by your podcast player, you can find it in full at www.fringelegal.comTranscriptAb: [00:00:00] I am delighted to be joined today by Jan Hards, who is the Director of Legal Innovation at Johnson, Winter and Slattery based out of Australia. Jan thank you for joining me today.[00:01:15] Jan Hards: [00:01:15] No, it's a great pleasure. Thank you very much for inviting me.[00:01:19]Ab: [00:01:19] This is going to be a great conversation. So today we're talking about your journey from being a lawyer to an innovator. And of course, both of these things can exist in parallel, but you took a very deliberate step from one to the other and, we'll hopefully cover quite a lot, but focus around what are some of the things that you learned, what some assumptions you had, which of those came true? Which of them maybe you had to challenge and what you learned from that.[00:01:46] Before we dig into all of that, just to set the stage for our audience here, would you mind just describing what sort of started this journey for you? What did you do before you were the director of legal innovation?[00:02:00] Jan Hards: [00:02:00] Sure. No, that's fine. So I'm originally a solicitor a Corporate M&A lawyer , and I started my career in the UK, although I'm originally from Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. So people wondering about the strange accent hopefully that will explain it.[00:02:18]I became a solicitor in the UK worked for many years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer became a corporate M&A lawyer there working on transactions, moved to Australia about nine years ago now and joined Johnson, Winter and Slattery soon thereafter as a Corporate M&A lawyer . We're working in the Australian market and are based in Sydney. I've always been one of the lawyers in the firms that I've been in who's been interested in using or leveraging technology to assist me in my practice as a lawyer.[00:02:50] So even back in my Freshfields days I was probably one of those lawyers who would be commonly contacting the IT team, suggesting new ways of doing things, new applications and, over the more recent years this has picked up a lot just simply as I've been seeing, witnessing the quite transformative changes in technology , particularly consumer technology to which we have access to.[00:03:17] And I've really enjoyed thinking of ways that we could use this technology to better drive efficiency and quality of service as solicitors. Over many years, I've been bugging my IT and my management colleagues to make certain changes or suggesting certain applications or certain ways that we could change applications we currently use.[00:03:39]About two years ago the management of JWS turned around and said why don't you help us in this area more broadly, not just in your corporate practice and appointed me director of legal innovation at JWS.[00:03:53] Ab: [00:03:53] That's awesome. And now hopefully you have many other colleagues that come to you and bug you with ideas and projects and so on as well now. So you know what it feels like on the other side. [00:04:04] Jan Hards: [00:04:04] I do, yes. It has been very interesting and I'm not only the transformation from being one of those people that was just constantly suggesting to being the person who is really responsib