Meet the InnovAction Judges: Ida Abbott
Ida has a great practice. For two decades, she has been helping employers develop, manage and retain legal talent, and helping lawyers achieve successful and fulfilling legal careers. Most of her current work involves mentoring, sponsorship and leadership development in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Three especially exciting projects involve engaging men as champions for women lawyers using approaches derived from her most recent book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know; creating a national mentoring program in a Middle Eastern country for new criminal defense lawyers; and helping develop and teach in a leadership program for women lawyers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. And in a new venture, Ida is helping senior lawyers transition out of full-time law practice.
Founder and Principal
Ida Abbott Consulting
What has been your biggest takeaway as a judge of the InnovAction Awards?
Law practice has remained staid and unchanged for so long that there are countless opportunities for new products, services and approaches. David Maister once argued that law firms are so poorly managed because their only competition is other badly managed law firms. Without sufficient incentives or pressure to change, they didn’t. Today, the entry of clients, entrepreneurs and business people into areas once controlled exclusively by law firms is upending the status quo, bringing in new competitors, and forcing firms to become more efficient, flexible and even, in some cases, innovative. We are seeing a lot of creative thinking and enterprise throughout the legal industry. This is benefiting consumers, increasing accessibility to legal services, and overall having a healthy impact on law practice.
How have you seen the nature of innovation in the legal industry change over time?
The pace and diversity of change are increasing dramatically and the InnovAction submissions we review have become much more sophisticated over the last few years. There have been some trends from year to year. One year a cluster of submissions involved practice assistance on mobile devices, another year it was alternative staffing, and another it was project management systems and programs. But every year brings exciting developments, and while some are simple and others complex, they all have the potential to have a positive, often far-reaching impact on a profession in dire need of innovation!