2019 Innovatio Awards: Company-wide leadership

In-house teams are collaborating, innovating and demonstrating leadership to enhance the entire organization

2019 Innovatio Awards: Company-wide leadership

In the sixth annual Innovatio Awards we celebrate in-house counsel - both individuals and teams - who have found ways to become more efficient, innovative and creative in streamlining processes, showing leadership and meeting the needs of their organizations and customers. Whether working solo or in a team, in-house counsel are all striving to come up with new ways to move the whole organization forward while being mindful of costs.

Our distinguished judging panel was faced with a wealth of game-changing nominations, making the judging process extremely challenging. These awards showcase the best of the best innovation projects and initiatives within in-house legal departments, with categories ranging from risk management to law department diversity.

One dominant theme that emerged this year was a tendency for legal departments to lead in initiatives that use their knowledge of the law to go beyond legal and benefit the entire organization. In one such example, the the City of Toronto’s legal department helped move parking enforcement into the online world by creating a more accessible system that allows motorists to pay tickets or launch disputes online, and earned them the top award for Innovation of the Year.

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“We wanted to see if we could blow that [old] model up and see if we could improve things for the public,” says Kalli Chapman, director of prosecution at the City of Toronto. In its first year, the new system was responsible for more than $2.5 million in gross operating budget savings for the company.

Also demonstrating company-wide leadership from the legal department, Steven Lewis at Capital One impressed judges by initiating and designing an accessibility office to help both employees and customers with disabilities, while SickKids Foundation’s general counsel, Mark Goldbloom, worked with a cross-department team to develop an enterprise risk management program to address future uncertainties across the entire foundation.

Another theme that cropped up in many submissions this year was the use of technology to create faster and more efficient systems to free up time and help move the business forward. RioCan was awarded for law department management (small department) for transforming the company’s crisis management protocols and creating a crisis management program and App. Winning the award for compliance systems (large department), BMO used artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an innovative system for compliance monitoring.

In another example of leveraging technology, winner of the award for legal operations (small department), Gary Goodwin at Ducks Unlimited, introduced knowledge management software to the organization to help staff search for answers to pertinent legal questions.

“You can have the best innovative product, but you have to bring the rest of the organization along with you,” says Goodwin.

Focusing on customers is another theme that resonated this year. For example, BMO’s winning initiative in the litigation management category protects vulnerable customers from financial abuse by family members, caregivers and fraudsters.

“There is a real sense of accomplishment and of making a difference, when you can prevent litigation and disputes and find resolutions,” says BMO’s associate general counsel, Dina Raphaël.

A law department can only be as good as its leader. Demonstrating excellence in leadership, Ben Westelman was recognized at Kijiji, while Kikelomo Lawal was awarded for her restructuring and leadership skills at Interac.

Collaboration is key to innovation in many of this year’s winning initiatives, not least in Uber Canada’s partnership with McCarthy Tétrault LLP and Québec tax authorities which earned them the award for working with external counsel. Together the teams married technical and legal innovation to devise and execute a tax compliance agreement. Getting to the point where the agreement was finalized took considerable communication and cooperation between the partners.

Jeremy Millard, legal director at Uber, says of the relationship: “We don’t really think of McCarthy as external counsel as much as internal counsel who work in a different office.”

Ducks Unlimited Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Ducks Unlimited Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Empowering staff with knowledge

Law department leadership (large department)

Kijiji Canada Ltd., part of eBay Classifieds Group (eCG)  - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Kijiji Canada Ltd., part of eBay Classifieds Group (eCG) - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Claiming a seat at the table

City of Toronto - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

City of Toronto - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Moving parking enforcement into the online world

Law department leadership (small department)

Interac Corp. - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Interac Corp. - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

High standards part of leadership approach

Working with external counsel

Uber Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Uber Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Forging new agreements

Litigation management

BMO Financial Group - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

BMO Financial Group - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Looking out for the vulnerable

In-house dealmakers

Valsoft Corporation - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Valsoft Corporation - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Growing through acquisition and saying yes to deals

Compliance systems (small department)

Toronto Acadamic Health Sciences Network  - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Toronto Acadamic Health Sciences Network - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Compliance through co-operation and collaboration

Law department management (small department)

RioCan - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

RioCan - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

RioCan takes action to prevent and manage crises

Risk management

SickKids Foundation - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

SickKids Foundation - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Sleeping easier through enterprise risk management

Law department management (large department)

Enbridge Inc. - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Enbridge Inc. - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Sprinting through transformation

Tomorrow’s leader

Capital One - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Capital One - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Championing accessibility for all

Law department diversity

Public Prosecution Service of Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Public Prosecution Service of Canada - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Breaking down barriers with diversity training

Compliance systems (large)

Bank of Montreal - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Bank of Montreal - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Compliance through technology

Innovation of the Year

City of Toronto - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

City of Toronto - 2019 Innovatio Award winner

Moving parking enforcement into the online world

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