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An interview with Pier Luigi Lucatuorto on being an innovative General Counsel

Italians are an innovative bunch. From the Roman’s gravity-controlled aqueduct systems and plumbing to Bartolomeo Cristofori’s piano and Alessandro Volta’s battery, modern society has many reasons to be thankful to Italy. As well as being an innovator at heart, Pier Luigi M Lucatuorto is Group General Counsel for Modula, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of automated storage and warehousing systems. Lucatuorto shares his insights on being an innovative legal professional with the InView community. 

Problem solving is at the core of Lucatuorto’s legal practice. After graduating from the University of Bologna with a JD, he spent three years in private practice where he discovered that the reactionary nature of the job as an external lawyer didn’t satisfy him. He wanted to prevent problems rather than fix them as they arose,   so he  moved in-house where he  found things more to his liking: “I am right in the engine of the car  rather than being a solution-maker after a problem emerges,” he says.

This isn’t always the case with in-house legal teams, however, as we often hear of the legal silo and the reactive approach of a traditional legal department. Lucatuorto believes there is a synergy between working for a high-tech company like Modula and having a pro-active legal team, in essence having  an innovative mindset.

In Lucatuorto’s case, an innovative mindset looks like actively searching for problems, ie. getting amongst the weeds of the business and anticipating potential legal issues rather than sitting back and waiting for them to arrive on your desk. He also stresses the importance of having open, honest relationships with your colleagues, of maintaining a discourse so you know what they need without being afraid to step outside your core area of expertise to help them. 

On the topic of work relationships, Lucatuorto stresses the importance of finding an equilibrium between professionalism and being friends with your colleagues, which is no easy task. Wanting an open transparent working relationship while also maintaining some ‘gravitas’ and authority in order not to undermine one’s credibility and trustworthiness. 

Having a holistic mindset as a General Counsel is another Lucatuorto tip. To him this means having the ability to solve any problem, whether it be through engaging colleagues or external counsel. According to Lucatuorto,  as an in-house legal professional you are an integral part of the business, and that means having a holistic, collaborative approach that promotes teamwork, support and knowledge-sharing with other teams and individuals. 

Innovation and technology go hand in hand and legal technology is no exception. Lucatuorto, who has a PhD in IT Law with a dissertation thesis on AI methods for legal reasoning, laughed when he was asked if he thinks lawyers are afraid of legal tech making them redundant. “I'm not scared of that. But I am scared that as legal professionals we are not prepared in terms of technicalities because I don't see many tech-savvy lawyers.” 

Lucatuorto says that legal tech is not a substitute  for human thinking, rather it makes lawyer's jobs easier and more efficient by supporting them in improving operations and increasing productivity. Contract lifecycle management, AI and data analysis are tools he sees enabling a lawyer to avoid low value-added repetitive jobs to instead  focus on high-value tasks. 

Lawyers often have a trying relationship with technology, and therefore h leadership is crucial when it comes to creating a cultural change that embraces an innovation mindset and legal tech adoption. To facilitate a team moving into legal tech you must lead by example, and communicating a willingness to embrace change and innovative technology is very much a part of that. Leading his team, Lucatuorto follows the mandate of “just keep calm and remember technology is to our advantage, innovation is our goal”. 

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