The Changing Role of the Legal Counsel in an Open Innovation and Collaborative Corporate Environment


The traditional role of the legal counsel in the Enterprise has been that of corporate guardian and IP protector. This has particularly been the case when R&D has been performed in-house, wholly within the closed walls of a corporation in an atmosphere of isolation, guarded secrecy and defensiveness. However Open Innovation, the revolutionary paradigm for the future of corporate innovation, requires an environment of openness and collaboration not only within a given organization, but also within the entire ecosystem in which the organization operates. Collaboration and the sharing of information, which result in innovation acceleration, are actively encouraged. Social networking and connectedness among the employees in an organization are rewarded between them and their counterparts in partner organizations and must be promoted.

How does this change in values impact on the role of the legal counsel, and how does it impact on the way information is managed, stored, accessed and shared in the enterprise? The hypothesis is that the legal counsel in an Open Innovation environment must become much more of an information facilitator rather than an information protector, and that governance frameworks to support Open Innovation must be established, underpinned by technology that delivers security and scale across the globalizing organization.

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