Law firms aren’t known for their innovative thinking. At least, they weren’t. Certainly, they have dragged their heels in embracing innovation and adapting to the new world order of LegalTech. Why’s that?
Maybe the answer’s found in a good ole lawyer joke. Why were law firms so slow to wake up to the innovation age? Answer: Innovation needs humans and they had to find one first.
But seriously. Let’s take a squiz at why many in the legal profession are stubbornly practicing law as they’ve always done. And how they really don’t need to resist the unavoidable transformation taking place.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Oh … and that the legal profession is traditional. Let’s face it, legal culture was forged by white, middle-aged lawyers for their peer group. It’s not too surprising, then, that law practices are often rigid, risk-averse and inward looking. And resistant to change.
Temperament and training don’t help either.
What’s more, lawyers believe only they can deliver legal services - services delivered by anyone else or by other means are inferior. They fear their value will decrease if they share their knowledge and processes with others in their firms. Innovation threatens their business models - especially hourly billing - and livelihoods. Lawyers remain afraid of technology and so avoid it. And, unfortunately, they generally lack competence in technology. Finally, they’re not taught in law schools to be innovative and entrepreneurial.
Deadly for the mindset, skills and behaviors needed for innovation, wouldn’t you say?
But it ain’t all doom and gloom. There are sure signs that the pace of legal innovation has picked up in recent years.
Firstly, the LegalTech sector - those companies using technology and software to provide cheaper and more accessible legal services - has mushroomed. Companies such as Thomson Reuters, Integreon, Axiom, UnitedLex, Legalzoom and Contractbook are thriving.
And traditional law firms are responding to this disruption by leveraging LegalTech solutions. After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em … They are commercializing e-Discovery services, investing in e-Discovery LegalTech firms, establishing innovation hubs and incubators and developing practice-focused solutions and apps.
Along with other types of initiatives. Just look at these:
In times of turbulence, the biggest danger is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter F. Drucker
Innovation may not come naturally to lawyers. But many are catching on to it. They recognise that to survive, they must innovate. Their clients and the market demand it. As one legal executive described it, “many law firms are still driving a 20-year-old Nissan Bluebird while our clients are now asking for a clean, green, electric Tesla”.
So what is it that innovative lawyers do differently? Well, it looks something like this:
It seems like democratising ideas and knowledge lays the groundwork for innovation in law.
Certainly, law firms are starting to click that the entire crew must be thinking of ways to improve culture and better serve clients - not just the partners.
And in doing so, they’ve created a new issue. How do they work through all the ideas thrown at them? And how do they implement them? Perhaps a digital platform can get law firms sharing their bright ideas and collaborating on their development.
We rest our case.
Is your firm looking for a way to share ideas and collaborate? Then why don't you try out our app?