Fifteen teams and individuals are set to battle it out to win Legal Week’s inaugural Dragons’ Den-style LegalTalent competition, which is aiming to identify fresh ideas to transform the legal profession.
The successful teams have been shortlisted from dozens of entries to go through to the judging stage of the competition, which will take place at the LegalWeek CONNECT event later this month.
The event will see all 15 teams given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of high-profile names from the legal profession, including World Bank general counsel Sandie Okoro (pictured above), KPMG UK GC Jeremy Barton and former Anheuser-Busch InBev chief legal officer Sabine Chalmers (pictured right).
The teams, which range in size from individual entries to five-person groups, are competing for the chance to share £5,000 in prize money and to have their ideas for changing the profession heard.
All of those shortlisted have put forward an idea to address issues of generational differences, inclusivity or diversity, with the shortlist including teams from universities, law schools and law firms.
LegalWeek CONNECT will take place in London on 29-30 November and will explore a wide range of issues driving innovation, disruption and change in the profession. Speakers include former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward and former TalkTalk chief executive Baroness Harding of Winscombe, as well as a host of law firm leaders including Herbert Smith Freehills senior partner James Palmer and Berwin Leighton Paisner managing partner Lisa Mayhew.
LegalTalent shortlist in full:
Five lawyers and trainees at Howard Kennedy – Anastasia Demetriou, Adam Fellows, Ajay Prithwi, Nikita Sellers and Phoebe Morris – are proposing Avattorney, a virtual reality lawyer service intended to be accessible to all, improving access to justice for clients and work/life balance for lawyers.
Simmons & Simmons
Simmons dispute resolution associates Tessa Jones, Minesh Tanna, Caroline Henzell and Katie Dyson, together with business manager Catherine Tsang, are proposing the use of new technology/AI to tackle unconscious bias in email communications. The technology will allow users to understand whether their emails reveal evidence of bias across generations, race, gender or socioeconomic background.
Clifford Chance trainee Ralitsa Todorova wants to boost productivity and work/life balance by taking an idea already in place in many banks and introducing it to the legal profession as ’The Mandatory Holiday’. This would ensure all lawyers are forced to take two weeks’ leave in a single block at least once a year.
Osborne Clarke trainees Rebecca Chui and Busayo Yusuff have teamed up with admin assistant Aaron Lee to come up with an online tool intended to look at diversity within firms from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective, offering identification, monitoring and reporting functions. The tool, which will address generational differences, diversity and inclusion within firms, is also meant to encourage active dialogue between employees and senior management about diversity.
The Transparency Project
Fieldfisher trainee Charles Carman and UCL law student Klara Iochem want to reveal the hidden inequalities within law firms through a new ‘Remuneration Disclosure Requirement’, which would effectively force firms to reveal their gender and ethnicity pay gaps by disclosing all lawyer and partner salaries to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
This five-person team of individuals from NetApp and Elevate want to transform the profession through the Millennial T-Shaped Lawyer Incubator, which is intended to partner with law firms, companies, law schools and tech providers to devise a standardised legal operations training course in collaboration with the Corporate Legal Ops Consortium.
Oxford Brookes law students Kriss Sprules and Amirul Anas Abdul Aziz want to provide a binary solution to a non-binary society, promoting the inclusion of the non-binary gender community within the legal profession and wider business community.
York University law students Bryony Whitaker, Peter Redshaw, Ghazaleh Habibifar and Ben Capel are proposing Branching Forward – an app focused on connecting school-age science, technology, engineering and maths students with the legal profession, to encourage them to pursue a career in law.
Paralegals Andy Norman and Douglas Bray are proposing a video-based solution aimed at increasing access to justice for all via YouTube.
Durham University A1
Durham students Alexandros Athanasopoulos and Shivani Tara Munshani want to reform mental health and wellbeing policies within the legal profession with their Illuminate Project.
Newcastle University students Kieran Barrow and Oliver Smith want to create an Objectivity app intended to increase transparency into firms’ diversity statistics and level the playing field for students at application stage, regardless of their background.
Law students Lisa Victoria Obono Azeme and Christelle Kazumba want to improve inclusivity within the legal profession by making knowledge and understanding of the English legal system compulsory within schools, in a bid to reduce crime by increasing awareness.
University of Kent law student Jordan Potter wants to introduce the AlterView Legal Education Programme, which would integrate law firms and schools through an educational programme around gender, sexuality and cultural differences intended to dissolve outdated discriminative opinions.
Law student Queenie Djan and Leigh Day events manager Yolanda Kibuukamusoke have put forward Lawyer Like Me – which would organise and host moots focused on engaging minorities to boost diversity. It would link minority lawyers at firms with secondary schools.
Paul Robinson Solicitors’ property paralegal Laura Gale has entered YourLaw Portal alone. The idea is intended to improve individuals’ access to the profession and to up-to-date information on their case, through an online portal containing all the latest case details.