“In today’s ever changing and dynamic business environment,… the time is upon the legal profession to dramatically enhance the way we deliver our legal services.”
Anna Lozynski has been the General Counsel of L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand since September 2012, building the first legal team for its Australia & New Zealand businesses with their 30 brands in Australia and 19 in NZ as well as its Corporate functions. Anna is part of the Executive Committee, is part of the CLOC Australia Chapter, having previously served as a Director of Accord Australasia, the industry association for the hygiene, cosmetic and specialty products industry.
She has been leading the team on a legal innovation journey to transform the way the function supports the A/NZ businesses by embracing automation, digitisation and data analytics. Prior to joining L’Oréal, Anna worked in-house at General Motors (in Australia (Holden) and Shanghai) and Westpac Banking Corporation, after working in M&A and as a commercial litigator with a major Australian firm. Anna has been recognised as one of APAC’s top 10 most innovative lawyers by the Financial Times, and her team was awarded a 2019 FT APAC Innovation Award.
Anna has also published an ebook called Legally Innovative, and is an Advisory Board member for She Breaks The Law, a global networking group for female disruptors in the law.
What inspired you to read law and what drives you today?
In Year 10 of secondary school, the future of our lives was constantly called into question. We had to know what we wanted to do because our university choices were just around the corner. After a stint of wanting to find a cure for diseases (but then realising I was scared of blood), at sixteen I was hell bent on becoming a lawyer. It lent itself to my natural skill set.
Fast forward to almost 2020, I believe it is one of the most exciting times to be practising law. We are potentially on the cusp of some serious disruption to the legal profession across the globe. To that end, I believe that legal innovation is invigorating, change is energising and efficiency will never go out of fashion.
What made you choose to go in-house?
As a second year solicitor (having dabbled in M&A and settling into commercial litigation), I was selected to go on secondment to one of Australia’s top four banks. It became clear then that in-house lawyering was more my jam. I returned to private practice for a further 18 months to hone my technical expertise and then, at the fourth year PQE mark, I made a permanent move in-house and have never looked back.
Describe your experience when you first joined as an in-house counsel. What have you learned and who did you learn from?
There was no red pen correcting form over substance. There were no timesheets, which left more space for building relationships within the team and across the business. There were no secretaries and word processing – self-sufficiency was the norm. While the transition from being fully supervised to having autonomy was at first a little breathtaking, it was the ultimate lesson in backing and trusting your legal knowledge (and its gaps). Having an intimate knowledge of the business was paramount in order to perform the role effectively.
As a secondee, I welcomed being exposed to other law firms. It gave me a great insight into various pockets, styles and areas of private practice outside of what my then “home” law firm walls.
It was wonderful to be led by such an inspiring female leader in Jilly Hanna, who handled all manner of problems with poise, transparency and intellectual elegance. It was equally wonderful to be surrounded by a diverse and welcoming team of lawyers, with whom I still remain in contact.
It was this positive first in-house experience which informed a definite curiosity to switch paths away from private practice on a more permanent basis.
What are some of the best lawyers you have worked with or look up to? Why?
The qualities of legal leadership that inspire me are –
- An ability to explain and synthesise complex legal concepts simply and in human English – that’s technical brilliance in action.
- Looking outside to grow within;
- Strong communication skills;
- Creativity; and
- Sponsorship of career development and further learning
However, I have also experienced leadership qualities that have not resonated with me. These serve as “mental notes” for the kind of leader and manager I try not to be.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The role of General Counsel is becoming increasingly multi-faceted, and one which requires a level of continuing reinvention. In-house lawyers today need to be more adaptable and agile than ever. This means staying closer than ever to the goings on of the business, and then vis-à-vis the legislative landscape.
We also need to be perceived as proactive and be master anticipators. As a legal function, this means making more data driven decisions – we will have year on year data comparisons via our matter management software, as well as data generated from our legal apps that gives us powerful insights and informs our decisions. It also means we can communicate with the business in a way that resonates. Being “busy” can mean many things, and often does not tell the value story simply and relevantly.
In parallel, we are constantly looking at ways to automate routine and high-volume tasks to drive efficiency. We have several new legal apps in the pipeline to complement the 14 self-service legal apps the A/NZ business already enjoys. Into 2020, we are also looking at contract review software which uses AI, expert systems tech, RPA (chatbot) technology, playbooks as well as legal intake software.
It is also challenging to find external legal support which is on the same wavelength as an in-house team that has legal innovation as one of its strategic pillars, and that actively takes its suppliers on the legal innovation journey with them.
What are some of the misconceptions about your work?
The businesses we support are “always on” so it’s a perpetual challenge for our small team to service them responsively and efficiently. It follows that, as a legal team we are “always on” meaning our legal services are in high demand, and we need to think on our feet.
It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of the busyness of the day to day. Whereas it’s really important to regularly carve out some space for some big picture thinking, strategising, evaluating, reflecting, learning, and of course innovating – every level.
Being an in-house lawyer requires skills which go beyond being a lawyer. It is critical to stay relevant. That is, to stay abreast of what is going on in business, tech and the economy more broadly.
What do you think about the difficulties regarding the legality of technology adoption (e.g. smart contracts, AI)?
As a legal profession, we have a real opportunity to transform the way we deliver legal services in the digital age.
If we look for synergies rather than silos when it comes to technology adoption, any unresolved and emerging questions surrounding its ethics, risk and/or governance will be easier to implement and resolve.
What do you think are some of the challenges surrounding legal innovation?
As a legal cohort, we are significantly behind the rest of the business world when it comes to transformation and modernisation.
In today’s ever changing and dynamic business environment, it is my humble view that the time is upon the legal profession to dramatically enhance the way we deliver our legal services.
Our natural lawyer-esque attitudes towards legal innovation and transformation are contagious. As Jonathan Cainer puts it, it’s as if each of us is a stately home, with rooms – even entire floors – waiting to be explored. And the doors to the legal innovation mansion are yet to be fully opened and discovered. For some of us, our mindset, relationships and legal presence may just need a new lick of paint. For others, a full-scale renovation may be required.
Could you share with us one success story that you have personally taken part in?
In 2019, we launched our future lawyers #werkexperience program in collaboration with Deakin Law School and Plexus, where a 3rd year lawyer student spends two weeks with us in-house, and 1 week at Plexus to learn about new age lawyering.
We have had two law students come through the program to eye opening success. We know of no other legal work experience program like it.
Could you share with us some fun facts about yourself (perhaps 3)?
- I have a side hustle – I am the author of an eBook called Legally Innovative. With a foreword by Professor Scott Westfahl of Harvard Law, it’s a call to action to “do law” differently with a progressive mindset. I am just finalising eBook #2, so I invite you to follow @legallyinnovative on Instagram, or discover my website annalozynski.com.
- Wellness is one of my many passions. I studied at NYC’s IIN (the Institute of Integrative Nutrition) virtually and can add qualified health coach to my list of credentials.
- I love a bit of reality TV – it’s my ultimate switch off.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.