“To spur legal innovation, our Toronto-based collaboration hub helps organizations adapt to global change.”
Sanjay Khanna, Futurist and Director of the White Space Collab at Baker McKenzie
Below is a transcription from a short interview we recently conducted with Collab director, Sanjay Khanna to learn a bit more about his past experience and current role at Baker McKenzie.
Tell us a bit about your background before assuming your role as Director of the WhiteSpace Collab and Futurist at Baker McKenzie.
I completed my master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing at the University of British Columbia. And then I started a tech writing company. From there I became a corporate communicator in Silicon Valley and entered areas like strategic research and scenario planning. So initially I worked at the intersection of business, culture and technology and then other trends came into my field of view including: globalization, environmental risks and climate change. I applied that learning to help innovation groups at places like Yamaha Motor Corp. and Nokia explore the future of advanced automation and areas like mobility and gaming and play. I saw how different organizations had different blind spots and based on macro trends could analyze which projects they ought to prioritize here and now.
How did you arrive in your current role at Baker McKenzie?
A future Baker McKenzie associate attended a seminar series I taught called “Adapting to the Future” at the University of Toronto’s Massey College. They later introduced me to Theo Ling, the Baker McKenzie partner who inspired the vision for Whitespace Legal Collab as a leading hub for multidisciplinary collaboration in strategy, law and technology. Based on our discussions, Theo felt we could bring complementary perspectives to help the legal profession achieve new milestones in collaboration-based innovation.
What are some of the major changes you’re seeing in the legal industry?
The legal industry is adapting to change both defensively and proactively. So defensive in terms of enabling in-house legal ops teams to advance their efficiency objectives. And proactive in terms of considering how their advice could be enabled by new solutions, some of which might be informed by data, enabling better business decisions and creating value.
Do you have a specific ask of the legal industry?
In addition to the legal risks, I’d ask them to think about the global risks their organizations face at a time when everything we understood about stability in the postwar period is now going through a transformation. Geopolitics is changing; our societies are becoming more unequal; extreme weather and climate change are an issue; tech acceleration is affecting all of us both in our personal and our business domains. How does legal help mitigate risk and uncover opportunity? I would argue that we need to take a much wider view. To step outside of your comfort zone, Whitespace Legal Collab’s multidisciplinary collaboration network is your best friend.
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