Shawn Swearingen | Elevating Innovation: The People and Processes Driving Success for Modern Law Firms

Shawn Swearingen is the Chief Innovation Officer at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a top 50 law firm with locations across the US, the UK, and China. In this role, Shawn collaborates with the executive and operations leadership teams to create a culture of innovation and design. Shawn has an ITIL Foundation Certification and a white belt in Legal Lean Sigma, and in 2011 she was awarded the Minnesota Lawyer Unsung Legal Hero award.

Shawn previously held the position of Senior Director of Technology at Faegre Drinker. With a focus on e-discovery and research, she led teams responsible for intranet, document automation, project management, legal process improvement, and more.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Shawn Swearingen explains how her firm’s merger has impacted its workplace culture
  • Shawn’s strategies for bringing teams together and ensuring that everyone is working toward the same goals
  • Some challenges Shawn has faced and her 80/20 rule
  • Shawn details her specific duties as Chief Innovation Officer—and shares her unique certifications
  • What is “design thinking” and how can it help you improve your firm?
  • How Shawn went from earning a master’s in library science to working as the CIO of her firm
  • The importance of understanding your clients’ needs
  • Shawn’s practical advice for lawyers

In this episode…

Is there a tried-and-true way to build personal connections between practice groups at your law firm? How can design thinking improve the way you approach and understand your clients’ needs? And, what does a Chief Innovation Officer do for a firm? Discover the answers to all of these questions and more on this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge podcast with guest Shawn Swearingen!

Shawn is an expert at building stronger relationships—both between teams and between lawyers and their clients. As the Chief Innovation Officer at Faegre Drinker, she has implemented a variety of innovative systems and processes to improve her firm’s workplace culture and drive it’s success. As she says, it’s all about communication, collaboration, and working toward the same big picture goals.

Shawn Swearingen, the Chief Innovation Officer at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, joins Elise Holtzman in this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge to discuss her strategies for creating a culture of innovation at your law firm. Shawn talks about the importance of maintaining a communal workplace culture, how to shift your focus to design thinking, and why lawyers should put trust in their operational leadership teams. Stay tuned for more!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by The Lawyer’s Edge, a firm based in the New York metropolitan area founded by Elise Holtzman in 2008 to help lawyers become skilled business developers and leaders so that they can grow their practices, retain top talent, and step confidently into leadership roles.

The firm offers customized coaching, consulting, and training programs such as their signature business development program, Lawyers Making Rain.

Now more than ever, it’s not enough to just do good work and hope your law firm will thrive. And no matter how smart and hard-working you are, it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to figure it all out by yourself.

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