For today’s feature post (200), we’re pleased to welcome guest contributor Rafael Figueiredo, who currently serves as Director, Strategic Projects & Investments for ALL Energy US, Inc., a Houston-based integrated group of energy companies focused on the development and operation of energy infrastructure assets — pipelines, storage, terminals and production facilities. Rafael is also an adjunct law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where he teaches courses on professional purpose/identity, legal innovation and the business of law.

I was introduced to Rafael through Cat Moon, as Rafael is an alumnus of Vanderbilt Law’s Certificate Program in Law and Innovation.  Indeed, in talking with Rafael, he described himself as part of the first generation of general counsels who have consciously acquired a T-shaped skillset in order to create a legal department that can fully deliver for the business.

If innovation comes easier to Rafael, here’s one reason why—for his entire adult life, Rafael’s education and work experience have straddled national and professional cultures. Although born in the US, Rafael attended law school in Brazil before returning to the US to work on bet-the-company litigation at Quinn Emmanuel.  After several years in practice, he headed off to UCLA Law for an LLM in Energy Transactions and Environmental Law. In turn, that led to several years of corporate law practice in the US and South American before a stint in strategy consulting at the intersection in law, business, and energy.

If we harken back to Everett Rogers, one of the touchstones of innovation is the transfer of perspective and knowledge across social systems. Yet, that is only possible when thoughtful, intelligent people travel between the two or more social systems and have sufficiently deep ties that they can grasp and appreciate the contrast.  See Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations Ch. 8 (5th ed. 2003) (discussing diffusion networks and crucial role played by rare individuals who connect two social systems). In Rafael’s case, he has both the benefit and burden of several overlapping social systems:

  • US/Brazil
  • Litigation/Transactional/Regulatory work
  • Consulting/Law
  • Law Firms/In-House
  • Energy/Legal Industry

Suffice it to say, if we want to better understand what is obvious to the intelligent outsider but invisible to those of us in the bubble, Rafael is likely to have some insight.  Rafael’s post (200) draws upon his experience in the energy sector to bring fresh perspective to law. Enjoy Rafael’s excellent post and the rest of the Holiday weekend.