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Christina Gagnier is the CEO of REALPOLITECH, a digital public relations and web strategy consultancy. She also leads the Intellectual Property, Internet & Technology practice at Gagnier Margossian LLP. She consults technology firms on international and domestic policy issues ranging from data security to communications issues. She previously served as Chief Information Officer of Moblize.org, the Millennial Generation public policy and advocacy organization.

1.     What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful leader to possess?

Successful leaders have to be willing to lead by example and treat all members of their team, whether an intern or a partner, with respect. If you work hard and create an environment where people feel like they can succeed individually as the company succeeds, leadership will be easy since people will want to follow you.

2.     Can you describe your typical day as a CEO?

As a lawyer working in a space that is impacted day-to-day by the political cycle, it is normally impacted by what is reflected in a day’s media cycle. As a firm that caters to an international set of clients, each day brings with it its own surprises and challenges.

A big part of being successful in the technology policy space is being actively involved in the community and keeping abreast of what is going on. It is pretty easy to fall behind if you are not actively researching and following what is trending and happening in the space.

3.     How do you foster innovation in your company?

We are a law firm entirely compromised of a team ages 30 and under, which is a rarity. Our distributed nature and low overhead allow our team members to work from a variety of locations and have allowed us to remain nimble.

We encourage everyone on our team to work on new projects and to find legal issues and cases that they find personally interesting and challenging to the firm. We are luckily in a position practicing Internet and technology law where we find this rather easy. Many of the legal questions we are asked do not have a direct response, so our team is always learning and discovering.

4.     How do you manage your work-life balance?

Running right out of law school and starting a practice has made work-life balance difficult, especially when you enjoy the people that you work with, both at our firm and outside of the firm in the larger space.

Best advice: Put away your cellphone when you are with people that matter personally. Other professionals certainly understand that you are busy and sometimes duty really does call and work must take priority, but you have to appreciate the time you have with friends, family and significant others. I may be guilty of falling asleep with my iPhone or with work scattered on the bed, but you have to know when to stop and take some time to nurture personal relationships.

5.     What changes do you see in the next 5-10 years for business owners and entrepreneurs?

The legal industry is going to be severely disrupted. The large firm model is not working for many clients and service delivery needs to keep pace with the changes in technology and society. It will become easier for firms like mine to change the space and compete since remaining flexible will be imperative.

 


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