IWD: Female innovators to launch She Breaks the Law

Guimond: You need an extremely strong strategic network

Three women working in the field of law firm innovation are launching a new network next month – She Breaks the Law.

Christie Guimond, corporate development manager at City firm Bird & Bird, said the network was being set up “to support female leaders who are breaking the mould and delivering legal services differently”.

She went on: “For anyone who has worked in this brave new world in an innovation role, you know that it can be lonely as a team of one.

“You don’t always fit into the traditional structure so you may find yourself without a team, sometimes without a manager, occasionally without a mandate – and the people who do the hard work don’t always stand up and cheer your ‘brilliant’ ideas.

“It can be hard, unforgiving, unrelenting, brilliant, exciting and rewarding all in the same day. When that is your daily reality, among other things, you need an extremely strong strategic network.”

Ms Guimond wrote on LinkedIn that the catalyst for taking action was becoming a mother in 2017, while the decision to set up the network was taken by her and two other women last spring – Priya Lele, legal process design lead (UK, US & EMEA) at Herbert Smith Freehills, and Nicky Leitjens, adviser to the board of NautaDutilh, a Benelux law firm.

Ms Guimond said the “three things” that struck the women during dinner were that innovation “can be hard and a little bit lonely sometimes” and “a lot of the people we know who are trying to make this work are women like us”.

The women also found that there was no support network that brought together “the entire spectrum of disciplines – from lawyers to technologists, to legal project managers, female founders, academics and everyone in between into a single group that concentrated on the wide discipline of innovation”.

Ms Guimond said: “We do not focus on technology, and we are not exclusive to lawyers or to professionals, to Big Law or in-house.

“What we do is provide a platform for women in leadership to connect with like-minded women, to widen their opportunities, to develop themselves and others, to share experiences and to create new ideas with women from all over the world.

“Like the three of us, our members come from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, but have one thing in common: they are leading the change in the way that legal services are delivered.”

Ms Guimond said She Breaks the Law aimed to offer “inspiring, accessible, schedule-friendly events and peer support”.

These would include She Connects, enabling women to build a strategic network of like-minded women via events; She Develops, providing training to allow women to develop their own skills; She Shares, giving women platforms to “proudly share their personal stories”; and She Creates, putting on live events like design workshops and hackathons.

Ms Guimond said those interested in the network should connect with her or the other two leaders on LinkedIn or follow the group on Twitter, before the formal launch on 25 April.

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