Michele DeStefano

Founder + executive Director, LawWithoutWalls
Professor of Law, University of Miami


Professor, author, speaker, and independent consultant and facilitator to law firms, corporate legal departments, and legal startups on innovation and technology, culture creation, teaming, and cross-practice, cross-border initiatives.  

Recently recognized by the ABA as a Legal Rebel, Michele is the founder of LawWithoutWalls, a multi-disciplinary, international think-tank of over 850 lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and law and business students that collaborate to solve problems and create innovations at the intersection of law, business, and technology.  She is also the co-founder and co-editor of the Compliance Elliance Journal, an open access e-journal that publishes engaging authors' works about cutting edge issues in compliance and ethics. Last year she was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.  This year she remains affiliated faculty for Harvard Law School's Center on the Legal Profession and Guest Faculty in Harvard Law School's Executive Education.

As a professor of law, Michele researches and writes about the growing intersections between law, business, and legal innovation. Her most recent scholarship focuses on the changing role of the compliance officer and is based on interviews of over 70 general counsels and chief compliance officers of S&P 500 corporations (featured in Harvard Law School's The Practice click here). Currently, she is interviewing chief legal officers of publicly traded corporations and leaders of innovation at law firms for her upcoming book: Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law. Additionally, she writes, presents, and consults regularly on Innovation/Entrepreneurship, Teaming, Collaboration/Culture Creation, Compliance and Ethics, Technology and Global Education, and Litigation Funding. Her work has been published in leading law journals and featured in a range of media including Time Magazine, the Financial Times (UK), Forbes Women, ABA Journal, National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Harvard Law Today, The National Jurist, Legal Futures (UK), Inside Counsel Magazine, Harvard Law The Practice, and Bloomberg News

Michele has been invited to speak about her work at a number of law conferences, leading law firms, and law schools including Stanford, Harvard, IE Business School, University of St. Gallen, and Fordham.  And she has also delivered talks to legal departments within corporations and legal organizations such as Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, ABA, AALS, and NAFSA.  (Click here for a recent review). Through MoveLaw, a company Michele founded to help fund LawWithoutWalls, she creates bespoke experiential learning programs on innovation, teaming, problem solving, and technology for law firms and legal departments like Microsoft.  Michele also regularly consults on ethics, attorney-client privilege and work product issues, and organizational strategy.

Finally, Michele is especially proud to be the mother of 3 wonderful children. | CV

J.D. 2002, Harvard Law School, Magna Cum Laude
B.A. 1991, Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude

Upcoming + Recent Press/Appearances


@Future Lawyer 2017 Conference hosted by Shifter “How to Become an Innovative Lawyer: The Proven 3-4-5 Method of Innovation Designed Specifically for Lawyers
” (Nov, 2017 Oslo Norway)

@ Legal IT Leadership Summit hosted by iManage, Miami, FL “How Law is Changing + The Importance of Creating a Culture of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation” (Oct, 2017, Miami FL)

@Janders Dean Innovation Index Awards Australia, "Innovation in Law" (August 2017 Sydney, Australia)

@Chilli IQ Workshop: Collaborative Problem Solving, Rebooting Adaptive Leadership (August 2017 Sydney, Australia)

@ The Legal Transformation Conference in "Legal Tech & Innovation Developments in the US" (June, 2017 Berlin, Germany).

@ The Costa Rican Bar Association's conference: "Innovation in the Law:  Why Women Attorneys Will Lead the Way" (May 2017, Costa Rico).

@ Legal Luminary Podcast: "Innovation in the Law," (March 2017).

@ The Chilli IQs 10th Managing Partner Forum: Being an Agent of Change, in Byron Bay AustraliaMichele will presented Innovation in Law, The Value Equation. Managing Partners Forum media release.  Click here for a review of the presentation. (Feb. 2017, Australia).

@ The Department of Law of the University of Pavia: Innovating Legal Studies and Practice. (Feb. 6-10 2017) Michele taught the theory, substance and practice of innovation and co-led a Hackathon with Alessandro Philip Maiano for international law students from around the world. (Feb 2017 Milan, Italy)

@ The University of Houston Colloquium organized by Lonny Hoffman, Michele will present a chapter from her upcoming book:  Winning the Innovation Tournament: Tactics to Transform How Lawyers Collaborate (Feb. 2017, United States).

@ Harvard Law School, Michele led a two-day Innovation Lab + Hackathon on Legal Education for Professor David Wilkins Problem Solving Workshop (Jan. 2017, United States).

FALL 2016

Lawyerist Podcast (Nov 2016) featuring Michele "Learning Creative Problem Solving Skills"

In Inside Counsel (Dec. 1, 2016), "'Yes and' to Pot Trump and 2017," Mike Evers features Michele's Keynote proposing innovation, “yes, and” thinking, and that General Counsels will be agents of change. 

@ ALM's InHouse Innovates Super Conference in Chicago (November 2016), Michele presented "Driving Disruptive Innovation: Redefining How Legal Departments Provide Value."

@ Chambers Diversity Seminar Chile: Challenges and Opportunities for Women in their Legal Career, in association with Carey (October 2016) Michele presented "Skills that Benefit Women in the Current Legal Working Environment: Technology, Team Work, and Creative Problem Solving." (Oct 2016 Chile)

@ Spotify in Fall 2016 Michele presented "The Changing Legal Landscape: How Lawyers Are Meeting (and Exceeding) its Demands" to the Spotify legal department. (Sept 2016 United States)


@ the Harvard Law School's, The Practice, Michele's articles and research in compliance along with the Compliance Elliance Journal (CEJ) (co-founded by Michele and Professor Hendrick Schneider, University of Leipzig) was featured (July 2016, United States).

@ Fordham Law School ILEC 2016 Michele Presented Innovation: How Tomorrow's Lawyers Will Practice. (Summer 2016, United States)


@ the Harvard Law School's, Harvard Association for Law & Business Symposium, Michele moderated a fireside chat with Horacio Gutierrez, GC of Spotify (former GC Microsoft) re: entrepreneurship and corporate governance (April 2016) (Cambridge, United States)

@ the ABA Tech Show in Chicago, March 2016, Michele presented on a panel re: the importance of technology, collaboration, and diversity to solve laws future problems and provide client service. (Chicago, United States)

@ IE Madrid Spain, LawWithoutWalls Kickoff and is featured in the following video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_GAedDwPOg  (May 2016, Madrid Spain)

Fall 2015

@ the International Association of Law Schools annual meeting, Michele was awarded the Faculty Innovative Curriculum Award for LawWithoutWalls and presented on legal education, innovation, and technology.

In The Harvard Law School Bulletin, "The Laws of Adaptation," Michele was featured about her research and experience in innovating legal education and practice and about LawWithoutWalls.

In Financial Times, Millennials Demand Start-up Skills, Michele was quoted and winners from LawWithoutWalls were featured. 

@ University of St. Gallen Executive School of Management, Technology, & Law, Michele, as a member of the board of advisers, presented about her latest research on the organizational aspects of the legal and compliance function in the U.S. and about LawWithoutWalls.

@ The Clio Cloud Conference, Michele, presented "Global Law School:  Moving Legal Education into the 21st Century.

SUmmer 2015

@ Microsoft (Seattle, WA) Michele gave a keynote talk about innovation in law and transforming the way lawyers and business professionals partner to solve problems.

@ Ethics & Compliance Initiative (Washington, DC) Michele spoke about LWOW X Compliance, our all-virtual initiative focused on solving problems in ethics and compliance.


@ Richard Susskind's 23rd Annual Ross Priory Conference on the Future of Legal Services (Strathclyde University, Loch Lomond, Scotland) Michele gave a keynote talk on Innovation in Legal Services and Legal Education.

In Bloomberg News, Michele was interviewed about her recent article about privilege protections for litigation funders that was cited and quoted in a recent Delaware case Carlyle Investment Management, L.L.C., et al. v. Moonmouth Company S.A., et al.

Recent Publications

The Chief Compliance Officer: Should There Be a New "C" in the C-Suite? Harvard Law School, The Practice (July 2016)

How Can Law Firms Innovate, Iberian Lawyer (March 2015) (co-author with James Batham, Chief Innovation Officer, Eversheds)

Compliance and Litigation Funding, Testing the Borders of Lawyers' Monopoly and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 82 Fordham L. Review 2961 (2014).

Claim Funders and Commercial Claim Holders:  A Common Interest or a Common Problem, 63 DePaul L. Review 305 (2014)

Creating a Culture of Compliance: Why Departmentalization May Not be the Answer, 10 Hastings Business L.J. 71 (2013)

NonLawyers Influencing Lawyers: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen or Stone Soup? 80 Fordham L. Review 2791 (2012)

Connect with Michele

Linkedin | email | SSRN | MoveLaw


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