Eleïssa Karaj is in charge of digital transformation at August Debouzy. This position reflects the firm's desire to bring even more innovation to its advice, but also to the way it works, via the tools used by its teams.

Eleïssa graduated from NEOMA Business School with a Master's degree in Innovation & Digital Management, and then joined the Technology & Management specialized master's program at École Centrale Paris. But this technophile is also a podcaster with Outside the Lex, her show in which she interviews lawyers with atypical profiles.

We went to meet him to ask him some questions about his job, his career and his podcast!

What are your missions as Chief Digital Officer?

I'm interested in the performance of our lawyers, as well as cross-functional functions, through technology, but not only.

In fact, I am working to create an ecosystem internally that would allow lawyers to be at the forefront of innovation in the practice of their profession, but also in which they will not miss the major trends of the market.

These trends are not necessarily directly related to law, but they will eventually impact our clients, and therefore the core of our business.

Could you give us some examples of trends?

We could mention blockchain and NFT, artificial intelligence or gaming, and all that these innovations imply from a regulatory point of view.

🤔 Did you know? NFTs (non-exchangeable tokens in French, or non fungible token in English) refer to a kind of certificate of authenticity that can be used to prove ownership of a file. NFTs guarantee the exclusive ownership of a digital asset.

To cite current events, large groups are already following Meta's lead, such as Disney, which recently announced the creation of its own metaverse. As more follow, regulatory questions will arise. We're working to be ready to help clients answer them.

When and why was the position of Chief Digital Officer at August Debouzy created?

August Debouzy is a pioneer in this area. This position was created 3 years ago after a major internal review of our activities, as it is part of our identity to offer more than just law. The firm wanted to recruit a dedicated person to support lawyers in the digital transformation of their profession.

When I was contacted, I knew neither the firm nor the legal ecosystem. At first, I liked what I saw in the mission: spreadinginnovation within the firm. Then, as the months went by, I literally fell in love with the legal ecosystem and its challenges.

You have a very technophile profile, how come? Why did you choose to study so "technical"?

Originally, I went to my business school, Neoma Business School, because there was the possibility of doing a double degree with Centrale Paris in my last year. When I say that there was the possibility, I mean that there were five places to be allocated...

I already tended to think in the long term. So I took the NEOMA competitive entrance exam with a view to being selected for Centrale Paris, five years later. I absolutely wanted to be there. Once in business school, with the students in the Information Technology major, we were perceived as real geeks. I loved it! I could feel that tech was the lifeblood of the business world.

It may seem hard to say today, but you have to think back to the way things were at the time - this type of course was very information systems oriented. So it was a technical training - especially compared to business schools in general, which were more focused on marketing, finance, communication... For my part, I wanted to acquire solid technical skills to have fun in the functional field.

Afterwards, I did an academic exchange in an engineering school in South Korea, and all my internships after that were very "technical", in the automotive and aeronautical industries. Today, all these experiences help me in my daily work.

Also read: Laetitia Jacquier: the wind of legal innovation

What is your biggest challenge?

My professional life is an eternal challenge (laughs)!

My goal is to bring innovation to professions that are already very busy, that have difficulty finding time. If the majority of lawyers individually have the desire to get involved, to increase their skills, to participate, to change the way they work... it's complicated to find the balance between operational reality and desire, and to free up time to explore new ways of working.

This is the case in all companies, but even more so in our sector. My role is to insist, to relaunch them, to accompany them. It's a long-term strategy.

Let's talk about your podcast. How did you get the idea to create Outside the Lex?

As I explained to you, I do not come from a legal background. On the other hand, I was taken by a devouring passion for this sector. Having a rather atypical profile myself, I wanted to meet other profiles of this type.

Very humbly, Outside the Lex allows me to have discussions with a myriad of different people, who evolve in a variety of fields.

But I also embarked on the podcast adventure because personally - and those who know me will tell you - I really enjoy learning from others and discovering new passions.

What have you learned since starting your podcast?

Right now, legal profiles are really starting to make their way into the tech ecosystem and into their organizations. I'm thinking for example of Kimiya Shams, a lawyer who has been appointed to the Girls in Tech board - was a lawyer expected on this board? - Or Pauline Berdah-Mandil, who was the first legal laureate of Total's internal innovation contest! The role of lawyers is changing!

My podcast has allowed me to reinforce my passion for passionate people. I believe that it is passion that allows us to go the distance and grow in a field, and the people I interview are proof of that.

If you had to name one episode in particular, which one would it be and why?

Then you ask a mother to choose one of her children (laughs)!

I think I would recommend the most recent episode, the one by Alice Di Concetto, because it can be appreciated by both lawyers and non-lawyers. It talks about animal law, a hot topic in a field where everything is still to be built in terms of regulation. My guest demystifies it all. I learned so many things while making this episode!

Otherwise, the second episode I would recommend is the one with Jehanne Dussert, a lawyer who decided to learn how to code and got her start at Ecole 42. The episode came out at a time when there was a lot of talk about the "augmented lawyer", it was a real buzzword. I got the impression that nobody really knew what was behind this term at the crossroads of two worlds.

In the episode, Jehanne talks specifically about why she moved into coding and her career transition. She explains why it was important for her to continue working in the legal industry.


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