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Navigating In-House Legal Innovation: Insights from Suzy Lovell, Head of Legal at Kier Construction

Introducing Suzy Lovell, a seasoned in-house leader renowned for her adeptness in navigating multi-disciplinary environments and delivering strategic counsel to stakeholders, including board members. As the Head of Legal at Kier Construction, Suzy leads a team of skilled commercial lawyers, guiding them through a myriad of legal challenges, from contentious issues to transactional matters. Her leadership style centres around fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, evident in her commitment to dynamic governance frameworks and her relentless pursuit of better solutions. 

With a background in transactional construction law from CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, Suzy brings a wealth of experience and a penchant for learning from diverse sectors to her role, ensuring that Kier Construction remains at the forefront of excellence.

Suzy's perspective on corporate legal teams offers valuable insights, and we eagerly anticipate hearing them during the 'We are Family: Corporate Counsel as Interoperability Champion' Panel on our In-House Day. Until then, enjoy her interview!


1. Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of legal innovation? What emerging technologies or cultural shifts that you believe will have a profound impact on the legal industry?

I think "expectation" is emerging as one of the biggest cultural shifts. In the past the legal function was somewhat protected from the need to innovate. Legal teams were specialist advisors that almost sat aside from the "business". Now, corporate legal teams are business partners and enablers and whilst its important that we all maintain our ability to be the conscience of the business, legal functions are coming under more scrutiny and there is now an expectation that just like any other department legal functions should contribute to finding ways to innovate (rightly so in my book!).


2. How can innovation leaders encourage collaboration with professionals from other fields, such as technology, design, or business, to foster a more holistic approach to legal transformation?

I think the reality is that innovation simply cannot happen without a collaborative approach. It comes back to the purpose of the innovation to me. Its rare that an innovation, small or big, only brings benefits to one function/business area but traditionally people don't expect lawyers to be at the forefront of innovation. We've got to do better at putting ourselves out their as innovators and show how legal innovation can be mutually beneficial. I learned the hard way that trying to push through innovation because it was the right thing to do is not enough - you have to bring people on the journey with you and more often than not you end up with a better result by doing so!


3. What metrics or indicators do you find most valuable in assessing the success and effectiveness of newly implemented legal technology?

This comes back to the purpose. What problem were you trying to solve (and problem might sometimes be an inefficiency rather than a roadblock)? That's what your metrics should be based around. All CFOs like to see cost savings of course but there are wider metrics like environmental gains; speed of delivery/transaction; customer feedback; employee engagement/attrition that can all be improved by implementing legal technology.   


4. How do you suggest law firms & legal counsels can address change management in innovation, both at an individual and organisational level?

We have to see this as part of the day job. Innovation is not the role of a technology department or a business improvement function. We all have to dedicate time to it and whilst we might have dedicated legal ops/technology functions they can't drive innovation alone. So for me, change management doesn't have to be drastic, its just about incremental gains by allocating time to this area. The stick approach would be to have some individual performance objectives or in KPIs for firms but if we empower people to give innovation a go and as leaders throw our weight behind it, I think you'd be amazed how much people would like to be part of legal innovation.  


5. What topics are you most interested in hearing about and looking forward to the most? 

Real-world AI applications and experiencing thought leadership panels & presentation

I would just add that innovation doesn't have to focus around new technologies. There are so many opportunities to innovate without needing to invest in new tech so it's open to all even if you don't have a big budget!

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