As director of legal innovation at Citi, Christina Wojcik and her team are responsible for evaluating the tech stack for a global legal department featuring more than 2,000 members.
This work includes determining what software within the tech stack is working and identifying the gaps other technology could help fill, including in areas where the financial institution hasn’t explored deploying tech before.
Wojcik’s team also looks at process improvement opportunities that would benefit both the legal department and the broader business.
“We go beyond just technology to understand if there are just better ways of potentially delivering legal services working with partner organizations,” she said. “So we have a pretty broad remit.”
Wojcik shared about her innovation work during a recent Axiom webinar that also featured Tyson Roy, Liberty Mutual’s director of legal innovation. The session was moderated by Zach Abramowitz, founder of Killer Whale Strategies, a consultancy that invests in legal tech companies.
New ideas and approaches
Roy, who has been in his role less than a year, said he too has an expansive mandate.
As a result, he spent the first several months of his new job trying to determine what his team is positioned to do better than anyone else in Liberty Mutual’s legal department.
While assisting with implementing new technology and working with alternative service providers are important, it was the concept of generating ideas that rose to the forefront.
“It really came down to new ideas and using all our resources and all our capabilities to source, explore, test and learn from new ideas,” Roy said.
Wojcik, who has been at Citi just more than three years, said her view of innovation is that it involves introducing something new or implementing a new way of approaching an activity.
For some legal functions, introducing workflows that help reduce emails or manual data entry could be innovative.
“Sometimes it's just about changing the little things, which can absolutely change downstream systems, so almost like a butterfly effect,” said Wojcik, who previously worked at Seal Software and IBM.
“If they're doing something new or trying something different or maybe leveraging something they haven't leveraged before, that's innovative,” he said. “We don't have to invent the iPhone for it to be innovation.”
Roy also highlighted that it’s very important for directors of legal innovation to cultivate allies within the department.
These colleagues can test out new technology or workflow approaches and provide critical feedback. Roy said having worked at Liberty Mutual as an attorney for roughly eight years prior to becoming the legal department’s innovation director has been helpful in that regard.
“I have a number of friends and professional colleagues I can reach out to and say, ‘Hey, Do you want to try this? It might really push forward what you're doing right now or might make your life easier,’” Roy said.
Wojcik said it’s also important for innovation directors to build allies outside of the legal department.
She shared that she has worked with Citi colleagues across different business units, products and technology teams.
“It really does take a village when thinking about technology innovation and process improvement in an organization this size,” Wojcik said.
The panelists acknowledged during the Axiom webinar that there are plenty of similarities between their work and the work of legal operations professionals.
Along those lines, both Roy and Wojcik shared they have found connecting with others through the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) helpful.
Wojcik also said she anticipates more companies will hire directors of legal innovation in the months and years to come, so it is a position legal professionals passionate about transformation should have on their radar.
“Definitely keep your eye out because more and more I see these positions being posted, listed and being created,” she said.