8 Sensational Harvey Specter Quotes You Need For Legal Change

In a previous blog we have shown that Harvey Specter in the TV Show Suits is a trailblazer in law (What Suits Can Tech Us About AI Law). Here, we provide 8 sensational and inspiring quotes on change from the slick, successful hot-shot attorney.

In the real world of law, top in-house lawyers are following the wisdom of Harvey Specter’s philosophy. In particular, legal department leaders are adopting their own killer lines as they take on law’s biggest challenge of change


“You want to change your life? Change the way you think”

This view from Harvey Specter is echoed by Anna Lozynski L’Oréal General Counsel Australia in the recently-launched (free) In-House Counsel’s Guide To Change Management. She says: “The beauty of legal innovation (small or big) is that it forces us as lawyers to look towards the future, think outside the box, and keep learning in new and perhaps unimaginable ways. As a lawyer, I personally find that to be seriously invigorating.”

Anna Lozynski L’Oréal


“It’s going to happen because I’m going to make it happen”

Juanita Luna, director of the Pacific Gas and Electric company’s office of the General Counsel echoes this Harvey Specter line in her own journey.

She says: “I honestly felt we didn’t have much choice” in overhauling the company’s matter management, eBilling, and legal technology in only 10 months. Luna says: “It was hard, it was definitely not without challenge, it was not without anxiety. We all had the goal in mind and maybe some of us had hoped, while others were crossing fingers, but everyone was aligned.”


“You wanna lose small. I wanna win big”

John Schultz

The ultimate aim of successful change management is anchoring change. Winning big for in-house counsels engaged in change has involved a seismic shift in processes, practices, and perception of the legal function. John Schultz, General Counsel and Molly Perry COO for Hewlett Packard looked at this big picture. They analyzed all financial benefits derived from IP sales and licensing, and brand protection programs and affirmative recoveries created by the legal team. When compared to her team’s budget, this helped anchor a new authority as the legal organization was revealed to be a profit center.


I don’t have dreams I have goals”

Goals, based on a clear vision, are crucial to change management. This enables everyone to understand why you’re asking them to do something. GC Cam Findlay, General Counsel at Archers Daniel Midland (ADM), for instance, doubled down in his goal to fully demonstrate the value of the legal function to shareholders.  Findlay’s goal was that “the legal department wants to be integral to the strategic changes we are making at ADM.” This was achieved by partnering with ADM’s commercial and support functions— HR, finance and IT— to make all of their low-value administrative tasks more efficient.


“When you are backed up against the wall, break the goddam wall”

Real innovation is really less about generating brand-new ideas and more about “knocking down barriers to making those ideas a reality,” says Harvard professor and leadership and change management guru, John Kotter. Barriers in law can be particularly resistant. Google’s Head of Legal Operations Mary O’ Carroll comments: “It turned out that mindset, which felt so entrenched, could be changed. There’s a wall there and once you push on it, you can break through. And once broken, there’s no turning back. You realize those walls are paper thin and no one is trying to put them back up.”


“Focus on making yourself better. Not on thinking that you are better”

Professor William Henderson

There has been much debate about ending the term “non-lawyers” (having a “non-lawyer” in the form of Mike Ross on his team is of course not a problem for Harvey Specter). There is a growing realization that skills outside the law are now vital. Professor William Henderson says  the most important thing every innovative lawyer needs to know ” is being able to collaborate with multiple professionals.” He says “we are entering into these higher order complex problems and we are going to have to solve them with other disciplines besides pure law.”


“Win a no-win situation by rewriting the rules” 

Connie Brenton, NetApp

Succesful change experts are rewriting the perceptions and rules of legal. In the words of Professor Richard Susskind, author of Tomorrow’s Lawyers, says “The next two decades will bring more changes to legal institutions and lawyers than have the last two centuries”. Connie Brenton, Director of Legal Operations at NetApp says “The new rules boil down to a fairly simple question: ‘Like any other department, what value does the legal team provide to the company as a whole?’ Innovative, business-oriented GCs and Operations Executives are answering this question in a new way and driving healthy long-term change in the legal sector.”

“If you kinda sorta try, then you kinda sorta fail”

Being passionate in the face of change is essential. The legal team at the online financial publisher, Bankrate, communicated widely their plans to slash legal fees for commercial contracting by 37%. The team took its mission “on the road,” training sales teams and senior management on the impact of sweeping changes. “We empowered the business teams by teaching them how to understand the contracting that supports the product they are selling”, says Jessica Rivera, Bankrate Vice President, and Senior Counsel. “We touted the value proposition that leveraging these new processes will make their lives easier.”

These quotes are from theTV Show Suits (available on Netflix), the insights are courtesy of The In-House Counsels Guide to Change Management. Now Available for free download



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