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The legal profession is rarely seen, at least in the popular imagination, as a cradle of innovation. Lawyers are stodgy risk-averse traditionalists, right? Sure, some probably are—but today, few can comfortably cling to the idea that their world will stay the same for long. Even for lawyers, the question is quickly becoming: Do you want to be one of the disrupters, or one of the disrupted?

In these profiles, you’ll meet some of the people in the first category. These are the winners of the Recorder’s first ever Innovator Awards, and they are legal professionals—at firms, in academia, at nonprofits and in business—who are finding clever ways to reduce client costs, improve experiences and outcomes, and serve larger communities by bringing a fresh eye, and sometimes a little technological know-how, to the challenges their organizations face.

They are helping deliver, or prepare us for, a world where an idea can become, almost overnight, a billion-dollar company. A world where employment law will need to account for robot workers and artificial intelligence. Where engineered tomato seeds can be worth more per pound than gold, and where time-consuming legal research can be as satisfyingly frictionless as finding strappy sandals on Zappos.