Thinking about her experience at Georgia State College of Law, Elizabeth Satterfield (J.D. ’05) fondly recalls sitting in the classes of professors such as Kelly Timmons and Roy Sobelson. One course really stuck out to Satterfield, and that was the Corporate Governance seminar with Marjorie Knowles. She enjoyed the innovative format of the course, where Professor Knowles brought in Atlanta business leaders and board members to discuss the challenges of navigating the legal landscape after the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Satterfield is the Legal Project Management & Innovation Officer at Proskauer Rose LLP. She leads a team of legal project managers, knowledge management lawyers, and innovation professionals to find new ways of delivering legal services, whether that is developing a product or designing a new workflow. Her team also supports the firm’s lawyers in applying best practices relating to matter management, knowledge and data, and practice technology.
While each firm has different priorities for their innovation officers, it is a role that’s taking the legal field by storm. Many firms in the AM Law 200 are adding the position for the very first time. Here, Satterfield discusses the importance of these roles and how Georgia State College of Law is preparing its students for this shift in law.
How did you transition to this area of law?
When I was practicing law, we were working with a client who was very interested in how their relationship with outside counsel could be improved by the application of legal project management (LPM). I became increasingly interested in how LPM and other methodologies could deliver additional value to the client. It went beyond helping clients with a specific problem to really partnering to identify ways that outside counsel can support the business objectives of the organization more long-term. Ultimately, I decided to make that my career.
What is the importance of a position like yours?
Lawyers have a lot of unique ideas that can enhance the way that clients experience legal services, but they don’t have the time to dig in and pursue those ideas. That’s where my team comes in. We solicit ideas from our lawyers and legal teams, and consider how those ideas can improve our clients’ experience. That could involve developing a new product or application that clients interact with, or it could be utilizing existing technology to improve the way our lawyers practice. Our goal is to identify solutions that allow our practitioners to deliver quality work product and legal services in a way that delights our clients.
How is Georgia State preparing its students for this new sector of the law?
The fact that Georgia State has recognized the value in the intersection of data and the law through its Legal Analytics & Innovation Initiative is great. That is a topic that is top of mind for many law firms right now – how to utilize the data and the knowledge they have in order to gain business insights for themselves as well as for their clients. Georgia State equipping their lawyers with that mindset sets them up to be leaders of the future because law firm leaders and clients are thinking about data in that way.
Interview by Mara Thompson