Michele DeStefano

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


Professor, author, speaker, 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.  

Recognized by the ABA as a Legal Rebel and by the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers (North America) as one of top 20 most innovative lawyers, Michele is a professor of law at the University of Miami, Guest Faculty at Harvard Law School, Executive Education, and the founder of LawWithoutWalls, a multi-disciplinary, international think-tank of over 1000 lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and law and business students that collaborate to hone new skillsets and mindsets 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 international an international e-journal of articles in compliance and ethics from around the world.

As a professor of law, Michele researches and writes about the growing intersections between law, business, and legal innovation. Her book  Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law leverages over 100 interviews of general counsels of large international corporations and heads of innovation at law firms. Her other book, New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World (co-curated with Dr. Guenther Dobrauz) includes chapters by experts in law, innovation, and technology to provide a global perspective on the future of legal service delivery ecosystem. Other 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). Additionally, she has written articles and chapters in books about innovation and entrepreneurship, collaboration and culture creation, diversity in the legal profession, millennial lawyers, compliance and ethics, litigation funding, the role of the general counsel and the court of public opinion, legal education, technology and law, the work product doctrine and the attorney client privilege.

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 areas of expertise at a number of law conferences, leading law firms, and law schools including Linklaters, Holland & Knight, Dentons, McDermott, Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer, Proskauer Rose, White & Case, Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth, IE Business School, University of St. Gallen, and Fordham. And she has also delivered keynotes to legal departments within corporations and legal organizations such as Microsoft, DXC, Thomson Reuters, Blackstone, Spotify, ABA, AALS, and NAFSA.  (Click here for a recent review). Through MoveLaw, a company Michele founded to help fund LawWithoutWalls, she creates and facilitates 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 teenagers.

 CV | Video 2013 | Video 2017 | Video 2018 | Podcast 2016 | Podcast 2018 | Linkedin | email |

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

Book: Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law

Praise for BookBook FlapIntroTOC

Book: New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World

Praise for BookBook FlapIntroTOC

Upcoming or Recent Press + Presentations


@Global General Counsel Forum, 2020-03-26, in Italy, Michele will present on the changing demands and roles of General Counsels.

@Legal Management Forum, 2019-10-10, in Madrid Michele will present on why lawyers should practice proactive collaboration towards, innovation.

@Harvard Law School, Book Talk hosted by The HLSA of MA, 2019-09-18 in Cambridge, MA, Upheaval & Innovation in the Legal Marketplace with Michele DeStefano ‘02.

@University of Miami School of Law, 2019-09-11, Michele's new book, New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World is featured, "Legal Industry Undergoing Transformation – Professor DeStefano New Book Explores Phenomenon"

@Forbes, 2019-09-03, by Mark Cohen, LawWithoutWalls is named as an example of a program designed to upskill lawyers "Upskilling: Why It Might Be The Most Important Word In The Legal Lexicon."

@PrawfsBlog, 2018-08-05, Michele is featured, "DeStefano on the Adjacent Possible"

@Wealth Strategies Journal, 2019-08-05, by Jessica Zhang, Michele's recent chapter, Innovation: "A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education is featured." 

@ Foro Jurídico, Michele is interviewed, La innovación implica que el abogado aprenda nuevas habilidades."

@Forbes, 2019-07-09, by Mark Cohen, LawWithoutWalls is named as an example of "market-aligned, client-centric, legal upskilling programs that have successfully bridged the gap between the marketplace and the Academy" in"Law Schools' Lost Opportunity."

@Bloomburg, 2019-07-03, by Roy Strom, Michele is quoted in "California Opens Door to More Legal Tech Non-Lawyer Roles."

@Financial Times, 2019-06-18, Michele led a discussion group as the resident Expert on Millennials: Do They Really Have Different Expectations from their Careers in the Law From Previous Generations and What are the Best Ways to Manage them in the Law at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Conference.

@Georgetown Law School, AM Law 100 Managing Partners Conference on Gender Parity, hosted by the Bass Institute, 2019-05-21, Michele led 2-hour idea generation and creative problem solving exercise.

@Lawyers Weekly, 2019-05-08, by Jerome Doraisamy, Michele and LawWithoutWalls are featured in "Why law students should partake in legal innovation programs."

@LMA, 2019-03-28, Michele is featured in Legal Marketing Association podcast with host, Cynthia Voth "Innovate, Collaborate, and Transform Law Firms."

@2019-03-27, Michele was a keynote for the Global Independent Law Firms Forum hosted in London by Legal Week and The American Lawyer, Why Lawyers Should Hone the Mindset, Skillset, and Behaviors of Innovators.

@2019-03-28 Michele spoke at Legal Ex in London.

@Law360, 2019-03-08, by Michele Gorman, Michele is quoted in "How Inhouse Counsel Can Avoid Being a Nightmare Client"

@TheTechnolawgist, 2019-03-08, by Isabella Galeano, Michele is featured in "Women Leading the Legal Tech Sector"


@Financial Times, 2018-12-13 LawWithoutWalls ranked 2nd and named a “standout” for innovation in collaboration at this year’s Financial Times North America Innovative Lawyer Awards. (Michele, the founder of LWOW received a commendation.)

@altblog, Colin Levy reviews, 2018-12-11“Legal Tech Book: the Legal Industry’s Guide through the Ever-Changing Global Market” which features a chapter on LawWithoutWalls co-authored by Michele and Erika Pagano.

@LegalFutures, 2018-11-28, Dan Bindman calls Legal Upheaval an "Innovation Blueprint"

@ABA, 27 November 2018,  ABA Interview with Michele and Feature of Legal Upheaval, Innovation Rx

@Remaking Law Firms, 16 November 2018, Legal Upheaval is reviewed by George Beaton, "Why Everyone Should Read Legal Upheaval"

@LegalNews, 14 November 2018, Legal Upheaval and Michele are quoted, "Two Paths for 21st-century law firms: innovation or extinction," by Nicole Black

@Lawyers on Fire,”Lawyers On Fire, A Chat with Michele DeStefano,” Podcast by Carsten Reimann (November 2018)

@LegalIT Insider, 01 November 2018, “Transcript from podcast with Ari Kaplan, Legal Upheaval: A Conversation with Law Profession and Author Michele DeStefano.”

@Ari Kaplan Podcast, 01 November 2018, “Legal Upheaval: A conversation with law professor and author Michele DeStefano.”

@Legal Futures, 05 October 2018, Michele and her book, Legal Upheaval, are featured, “Lawyers Need to See Benefits of Innovation Says Guru,” by Dan Bindman 

@Financial Times, 04 October 2018, Michele is quoted by Reena SenGupta, “Law Firms Confront a Question of Identity”

@LegalSpeak Podcast, 28 September 2018, Michele is interviewed by Karen Sloan, Law.com, “Beyond the Buzzwords: Getting Real About Law Firm Innovation”

@The Attic, 26 September 2018, Michele is interviewed by Kayleigh Ziolo, “Legal Upheaval: In Conversation with ‘Legal Rebel,’ Michele DeStefano”

@Above the Law, 25 September 2018, Michele is quoted in “You Want Innovation in Legal? Legal Ops Needs To Drive the Conversation,”  by Mike Quartararo

@Above the Law, 20 September 2018, Michele's book, Legal Upheaval, is reviewed “Innovation in Legal Services: A Pipe Dream or a Necessity,” by Nicole Black

@HLS Celebration '65 15 September, 2018, Michele is featured in a panel on Law Teaching (upcoming)

@Corporate Counsel powered by Law.com: 23 August 2018, Michele's book, Legal Upheaval, is reviewed "GC's Who Want Outside Counsel 'Innovation,' Need to Define it, Author Says" by Sue Reisinger

@Bloomberg Law, Michele's book, Legal Upheaval, is mentioned by Rick Mitchell

@Law360.com, Michele's book, Legal Upheaval, is featured, "Lawyers Need to Disrupt Themselves to Succeed," by Michele Gorman

@Law.com, Michele's book, Legal Upheaval, is reviewed, "Ahead of the Curve: A 'Legal Upheaval' for Law Schools?," by Karen Sloan

@BeyondBillables.com 18 July 2018, Michele is featured in a podcast (upcoming)

@Iberian Lawyer, 27 July 2018, Michele is selected to be a judge for the Iberian Lawyer Gold Awards, recognizing excellence among in-house lawyers and compliance professionals.

@Legal Practice Intelligence: 04 July 2018, Michele judges winners of the 2018 Legal Innovation Index

@The Hedge Fund Law Report: 14 June 2018, Michele is quoted about the role of the Chief Compliance Officer and the structure of the compliance function in "What Fund Managers Should Consider When Hiring and Onboarding CCOs; Determining CCO Governance Structures; and Evaluating Risks of CCO Turnover (Part Two of Three)" by Shaw Horton

@Legal IT Insider: 22 May 2018 Review of Michele's Talk @JDHorizons: Leadership, change, marmalade martini, reinvention, Jam, and hats off for a 50%-plus female line-up.

@JD Horizons, hosted by Janders Dean: “Leading in Law–Habits of Highly Effective Law Firm Leadership & Entrepreneurialism,” (May, 2018 London UK)

@Florida Record, 6 May 2017, Michele is quoted on Litigation Funding in article "Attorneys Don't Favor Regulating Third Party Lawsuit Lenders," by John Sammon

@Dartmouth College, named lecture hosted by the Dartmouth Lawyers Association and Rockefeller Center on Public Policy at Dartmouth College “LawWithoutWalls: Enhancing Access to Justice and Lawyers’ Skills with Innovation" (May, 2018 Hanover, NH USA)

@The Ed Andrew Podcast click here to listen


@Chambers Diversity Summit 2017 moderated fireside chat with María Elena Lagomasino, Managing Partner & CEO, WE Family Offices (hosted by Greenberg Traurig, Nov 2017 Miami FL USA)

@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 Australia, Michele 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).


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)


@ 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.

@ 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 Books and Articles Written by Michele

Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law (Ankerwycke Publishing July 2018).

The Law Firm Chief Innovation Officer: Goals, Roles, and Holes, Modern Legal Practice (Fall 2018).

Transforming lawyer-client collaboration and creating lasting change through LawWithoutWalls, co-authored with Erika C. Pagano, chapter in The Legal Tech Book. Reemers Publishing Services GmbH (Fall 2018).

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).

Hiring Teams, Firms, and Lawyers: Evidence of the Evolving Relationships in the Corporate Legal Market, with John Coates, Ashish Nanda, David Wilkins, 36 Law & Soc. Inquiry 999 (2011).

Taking the Business Out of Work Product, 79 Fordham L. Rev. 1869 (2011).

Advocacy in the Court of Public Opinion, Installment Two: How Far Should Corporate Attorneys Go?, 23 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1119 (2010).

Advocacy in the Court of Public Opinion, Installment One: Broadening the Role of Corporate Attorneys, 22 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1259 (2009).

The Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege: Third-Rate Doctrine for Third-Party Consultants, 62 SMU L. Rev. 727 (2009).

Connect with Michele

Linkedin | email | SSRN | MoveLaw


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