Melissa Kluger

It’s time to launch a lawyer-empowerment movement

Innovation in the legal profession is really difficult. We want to celebrate lawyers who have pulled it off
Innovation in the legal profession is really difficult. We want to celebrate lawyers who have pulled it off

When I buy clothes for my eight-year-old daughter these days, I am horrified by some of the things that are sold for a girl her age. And I’m not talking about too-short skirts or too-sexy off-the-shoulder shirts. My issue is actually with the so-called girl empowerment T-shirts. During a recent trip to Yorkdale, I saw the following catchphrases emblazoned on T-shirts in the girls’ department: “Smart girls are the future,” “Girls can do amazing things” and — my least favourite — “Future CEO.”

I always cringe at these slogans. They suggest that, out in the working world, some people don’t think girls have much to offer. After all, why would we have to insist that “girls can” unless someone thinks that “girls can’t”? To outfit my daughter in one of these shirts would, then, give her a reason to doubt that she has the potential to become a corporate titan. That is the opposite of empowerment.

But do you know who could use some empowerment T-shirts? Lawyers. It’s not always easy for lawyers to take risks or innovate at the office. Our entire legal education taught us to anticipate every negative outcome and to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Add to that the fact that practising lawyers have to work within the confines of a justice system that is slow-moving, delay-ridden and technologically prehistoric.

And yet, even though the legal profession does not offer an innovation-friendly environment, we need to up our risk tolerance. So much is at stake. Our innovations can help our clients and increase access to justice. I know it’s hard, so here are a few T-shirt ideas: “Alternative fee arrangements? Ooh la la,” “Innovative lawyers are the future” or, simply, “Lawyer superhero.”

Okay, I’m not going to make actual T-shirts, but since I think it’s pretty important that lawyers feel empowered to drive change, I can announce that we are launching the Precedent Innovation Awards. We want to celebrate working lawyers who are improving the profession for those of us who practise in it and those that we serve. Have you found a smart way to deliver services better? If so, we’re looking for you.

Melissa Kluger signature

Melissa Kluger
Publisher & Editor

Step Right Up

The purpose of the Precedent Innovation Awards is simple: to inspire and empower the legal profession to think creatively and take risks. We hope you’ll share with us your stories of innovation.

If you’d like to submit an application, all the information you need is on our website at The deadline to apply is April 15, 2019. We will feature the winners in our winter issue.

More from the Spring issue:

MIchael Garbuz Font Linda Ippolito Emoji Michael Herman

This story is from our Spring 2019 Issue.

Photography by Ian Patterson