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Evangelizing Change in a Risk-Averse Industry

Mary Rechtoris

Driving change in the legal industry can be an arduous, and sometimes near-impossible task. Our industry has historically been risk-averse—which makes sense. Law firms handle highly sensitive client information. Thus, they tend to defer to the standard way of doing things because they know it works.

Despite the obstacles in play, there are individuals who work to change the status quo. Evangelists realize the potential in change’s ability to yield tremendous results.

Think of some of the greatest innovations that have impacted humankind. What if the Wright brothers had given in to naysayers? We may not be able to transcend geographies in mere hours via the airplane.

Imagine if the printing press took a backseat to handwriting. Communication would be much slower and our hands would cramp much more often.

The legal tech field needs evangelists willing to stir the pot. They play a key role in moving the industry forward.

The Roombas of e-Discovery

Evangelists are dedicated to driving efficiency through change. Part of their role involves getting key stakeholders on board. Often, they may have to adjust their approach to make change happen.

During a conversation at the Women in e-Discovery conference in May, I spoke with Joy Murao on this topic. She compared an evangelist’s tenacity to that of a Roomba.

“Roombas may hit a wall, back up a bit, turn, and then go forward again. They always are moving,” Joy said. “Evangelists keep trying until they find the right formula to drive their point home.”

When I picture an evangelist, two things come to mind. The first is the song—Flames. This firey collaboration—pun intended—between Sia and David Guetta encourages listeners to keep pushing despite obstacles that try to hinder their success.

The second is Kate Bauer, practice solutions architect at Steptoe. A few years ago, Kate aimed to increase analytics adoption throughout her firm. Steptoe had skeptics, but Kate employed various techniques to change their minds. For instance, she used data to illustrate analytics’ success. She also offered hands-on training to get case teams comfortable with the technology.

“With increased awareness comes improved effectiveness and confidence in applying analytics technology. This leads to greater adoption,” Kate said.

Little by little, the firm converted analytics skeptics into champions.

Expanding the Meaning of Innovation

At Relativity, we celebrate strides made toward innovation—and we love to see the creativity our community is putting into our platform. Our annual user conference has featured an awards ceremony recognizing innovative solutions for several years.

For the first time last year, we mixed things up a bit. We added a series of awards that celebrated the people behind the innovations. These awards recognize professionals taking risks from a technology perspective. They also highlight those striving to make the industry a better place.

We created four people-centric awards to showcase these movers and shakers: Stellar Women in e-Discovery, Lit Support All-Star, Attorney Tech Evangelist, and Academic Innovator of the Year.

At the Women in e-Discovery conference, I also connected with Tricia Johnson, a Stellar Women in e-Discovery guest. As QDiscovery’s head of marketing, Tricia worked with the team on their technology submission for the Innovation Awards in 2017. QMobile was awarded the Community Choice Award that year. When asked about her thoughts on adding people-centric awards, she was all for it.

“I love having many categories for people and the technology that's out there,” Tricia said. “We're in legal tech, so the technology is important. But it's not the only thing. The people awards are not replacing the technology awards. They are adding to it and making it more all-encompassing.”

Recognition is also important to the awards’ nominees. With the hustle and bustle of the day to day, we sometimes fail to recognize and celebrate each other. However, taking the time to recognize each other has a tremendous impact. It did for Emma Young, director e-discovery consulting at Consilio. Emma won the Lit Support All-Star award last year at Relativity Fest,

“Over the years, I have worked hard—with many long days and nights spent pouring my energy into finding solutions to problems that haven’t been solved before,” she added. “Being given an award for what I do really felt great.”

We want to continue celebrating those that move the industry forward. For 2019, we are adding a new award category: the In-House Tech Evangelist. The award recognizes corporate professionals impacting their organizations in a variety of ways, including advocating for change across departments or keeping tabs on the latest changes in the field.

This October, we’re excited to recognize those in e-discovery who are true evangelists in their own right.

Nominate the Bright Mind in Your Network for an Innovation Award

Mary Rechtoris is a senior producer on the brand team at Relativity, where she's always collaborating and looking for new ways to develop and socialize stories.

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