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In the Balance

Musings from McKinsey’s Legal Team.
A forum to share what life in the law is like in support of our firm’s purpose of helping to create positive, enduring change in the world. We share how we lean into creativity in our work, why we’re passionate about what we do, and why it matters.
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The joy of giving back

See this post in Italian here. On 27 June 2022, our legal team had the pleasure and honor of taking part in a panel that started a series of sessions dedicated to students at the Faculty of Law at the University of Milan (Italy). The sessions aim to provide students with information and insights about three types of legal professions: in-house counsel working for domestic and international companies, private-practice lawyers working for international law firms, and lawyers working for ...

From Principles to Practice: Putting AI Ethics into Action

We have the privilege here in the McKinsey Legal Department to work closely with QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey. The data scientists, data engineers, and technologists within QuantumBlack are at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in AI, spanning a wide range of industries and use cases. At the top of our mind in all of the conversations we have with these teams are the principles that are emerging around ethical AI. We engage deeply with these teams on these ethical topics, both because ...

The power and impact of community in the law: How networking helps me become a better lawyer

See this post in Spanish here. I was 18 when I decided to study law. I had just spent one year in Norway as an exchange student, and my choice of career had shifted from psychology to communications to law; all of which are bachelor’s degrees in Mexico. One of my favorite uncles was a successful litigator, but other than that, I had no relationship of any type with lawyers. I was born and raised in Oaxaca in southern Mexico. My closest contact with Mexico City was from summer vacations at ...

How being a DJ makes me a better lawyer

Please note that the below is an English translation of this article which was originally written in French. Click here to access the original French version. Music has always been a part of my life. From a young age, I collected it on all existing media, depending on the era: vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and then digital format. I liked listening to the pieces, dissecting them, classifying them, and creating playlists adapted to every moment of my life, to accompany me at all times. Since the ...

Innovate | Legal: McKinsey Legal Lab

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” No overused quote is more fitting for the motivation behind our decision to develop and launch McKinsey Legal Lab (MLL), a first-of-its-kind innovation incubator and accelerator for a global legal department. And that necessity was twofold. On the one hand, we were entering year two of fully remote work and zero travel in an organization used to movement and personal connectivity. Each of us was feeling varying degrees of disconnectedness (on ...

In the Balance: Q&A with Janis Wong, PhD researcher in computer science, the University of St Andrews

Stephanie Spangler: We’re so happy to speak with you today about data governance! You were a keynote speaker at a McKinsey Digital and data and assets knowledge sprint last fall, where you spoke about data trusts. You have an informative website on your academic work in data protection, have recently coauthored a research article, “Data protection for the common good: Developing a framework for a data protection-focused data commons,” and recently completed the fall 2021 ...

Five tips for leading a high-performing legal team

For the last several years, I have led a large team of more than 20 legal colleagues, which includes lawyers, contract professionals, and paralegals. Through my experience, I would like to share some tips I’ve adopted from the myriad of literature out there on the topic of leadership. Some of my favorite leadership gurus include Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School, Brené Brown, a University of Houston professor, and Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, among others. I ...

The powerful combination of professionalism and heart: Q&A with Stephanie Lowell

Stephanie Lowell is an associate director of talent who works with McKinsey’s legal and risk functions. Over the past few years, Stephanie has partnered closely with McKinsey Legal’s leadership team and the firm’s general counsel, Pierre Gentin, in developing a dynamic community of world-class legal professionals around the globe. Pierre recently interviewed Stephanie on a range of topics including how a talent professional can partner effectively with a company’s legal ...

Collaboration challenge for 2022—be intentional, transparent, and creative

About six years ago, I started a New Year’s tradition. I choose a word to center around for the year. I always write it down to memorialize the word. If a beach is conveniently nearby (and for some years it was), I would write the word in the sand and watch the waves slowly and rhythmically wash it away. It is a metaphoric and cathartic way to start the year. For 2022, I chose a word that applies personally and professionally: collaboration. Coincidentally, collaboration is a theme on ...

Automation and cyborg law: To what extent do we “borrow” from machines?

“Debt” tends to carry a negative connotation—a word rooted in borrowing something and ultimately carrying responsibility for its repayment. But the concept and its capability carry meaningful dimensions, too. Debt can also mean enablement—for example, when owning a home and getting a mortgage, or launching a venture and getting start-up financing, or injecting capital into public needs, such as government bonds. The list goes on. Across various contexts, the accumulation ...

Looking for that legal tech magic? It’s in the management

What have we built at McKinsey Legal? McKinsey Legal has built a knowledge-management platform with robust technological sophistication. Launched in February 2021, the department’s “Legal Playbook” is an online portal designed to be the starting point for our legal professionals—you either search the collection to find the resource you need or click on a link to take you where you need to go. The intuitive layout expands through a folder and subfolder interface to make ...

Cultural diversity: a human-centered approach that thrives on openness, curiosity, and respect

Cultural diversity is an integral attribute of McKinsey’s legal department. With our colleagues calling 46 different countries “home” and speaking over 20 different languages, our efforts to promote cultural diversity are driven by both necessity and a desire to celebrate the unique backgrounds and customs of our colleagues. This gives our legal team the ability to dive into the value of our team’s diversity and learn how to incorporate the richness of cultural identity. ...

A look at McKinsey’s DE&I initiatives: Women in the Workplace and Race in the Workplace studies

Hundreds of participating companies, thousands of surveyed employees, hundreds of in-depth interviews and focus groups: McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace and Race in the Workplace studies take a close look at work experiences of employees in the U.S. and Canada with the aim of advancing gender and racial equity in the workplace. Driven by McKinsey’s broader values and purpose, as well as a personal commitment to our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) mission, our legal ...

Driving data enablement through data regulation

As the global data-protection landscape matures, an increasingly robust set of data-privacy laws backed by active regulators drives governments and private-sector groups alike to invest significantly in data protection or face financial penalties, business disruption, and public censure. Over more than two decades, much of the world witnessed a gradual migration of personal and professional life from in person to digital interactions. Then, less than two years ago, digitization came nearly ...

Three ways that teaching yoga has helped me become a better lawyer

I am an associate general counsel in McKinsey’s Hong Kong office, managing litigation and investigations across Asia—and I’m also a part-time yoga teacher. I’m currently in the middle of advanced yoga-teacher training, which is a 300-hour course split into three parts. At the end of my second course, the teacher added a little test. I got quite excited when I discovered this, because being a lawyer, I love tests! So I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when ...