Lawyers are good at identifying and minimising risk, while innovation is all about taking risks and reaping the rewards (if everything goes well that is). The legal industry is inherently conservative, an industry rich in tradition and resistant to change. But things ARE changing in the legal industry and innovation is the key to success.
So who are these legal innovators?
The legal innovators
Every year LexisNexis and Janders Dean sponsor the Legal Innovation Index which recognises firms and individuals demonstrating innovation in the legal industry in New Zealand and Australia. The 2017 winners were:
Andrea Perry-Petersen, LawRight
Clarissa Rayward, Happy Lawyer Happy Life
Claudia King, Automio
Matthew Robinson, FCB Group
Law Firm/Organisation Award:
Gilbert + Tobin
Herbert Smith Freehills
Westpac Legal Team
So what does innovation look like in the legal industry, and what do innovative firms do that other firms don’t?
The team that plays together stays together
Innovative firms harbour a culture of innovation. Their values and beliefs support and empower staff to contribute. New solutions are valued and acted upon. There is a constant focus on continuous improvement throughout the entire firm.
The traditional law firm often makes decisions and discusses ideas at the partnership level. But innovative ideas don’t always come from the top and innovative law firms take ideas from all members of the workplace. No idea is a stupid one. The feeling that your ideas aren’t good enough to listen to can lead to resentment towards the firm and a sense of worthlessness – this is what innovative firms want to avoid.
Innovative law firms also foster diversity. They know different backgrounds mean different experiences and this means different views, values and ideas which can lead to innovation within the firm.
Teamwork and team building play an important role in the innovative law firm – FUN generates ideas and gets people on board to implement, adopt and manage change. Creativity in the workplace is a fantastic thing and is encouraged by innovative firms. Australian law firm JHK Legal is a team that plays together. Jump on Instagram and search the hashtag #allthewaywithJHK to check out some pics of their super fun team events. This helps to foster the culture of innovation at JHK Legal which runs deep. Check out this case study video about how the JHK Legal team has been using Automio to spend less time preparing legal documents and more time getting excellent results for their clients.
Innovative firms walk the walk
Innovative law firms lead by example. This means that innovative law firms don’t just discuss new ideas, they make real steps to implement these ideas into action and trial new systems, products and technologies. They lead and set trends. They aren’t happy accepting the approach of “this is the way we’ve always done things”. Flexibility and adaptability within the firm is important and allows new ideas to be adopted and acted upon.
A good example of an innovative law firm walking the walk is Australian commercial law firm LegalVision which claims to be Australia’s fastest growing law firm. LegalVision is clear about its commitment to innovation and brings together lawyers and technologists to deliver efficient and cost-effective solutions to SMEs, corporates and startups.
Innovative firms care about and listen to their clients
A client centric approach is used by innovative law firms. They communicate faster with clients, listening to their needs and wants. If you aren’t satisfying clients’ needs and wants as the wave of change hits the legal industry, then clients will likely jump ship to those than will. Innovative law firms remember why they do what they do (no, it’s not only for the money). Clients are an innovative law firm’s number one priority. Happy clients = happy and successful firm.
Innovative New Zealand divorce lawyer, Jeremy Sutton, regularly calls and texts his clients to get feedback. You only have to look at Jeremy’s website to see how he cleverly uses this client feedback in innovative ways to give his clients what they want. Jeremy and his team of barristers have over 80 positive reviews from happy clients on Google.
Innovative firms are tech lovers not fighters
The legal industry has traditionally been slow in adopting new tech. But with more and more useful technology becoming available that creates so many benefits, tech is hard to ignore. Innovative law firms aren’t afraid of technology. They use it to create passive income, to save money and time, to increase efficiency, to meet client demands and more.
With all these benefits why don’t lawyers embrace technology more, particularly as huge change is inevitable? The most likely answer is that lawyers don’t fully understand technology. Innovative Australian corporate law firm Gilbert + Tobin are addressing this problem head on by creating a development program that teaches its lawyers and clients how to code. Last year the firm had 60 of its lawyers learning software coding basics.
Innovative firms collaborate with the game changers
Innovative firms sniff out the game changers and movers and shakers in the legal industry and partner with them to create innovative products and services. Here’s a couple of examples:
- Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright and LawPath, Australia’s leading provider of online legal services for businesses, teamed up to offer a bunch of fixed-price services that are provided online.
- Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin made an equity investment in LegalVision
We also saw New Zealand law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts set up a JV with Goat Ventures earlier this year to explore and invest in AI for legal services. They have set themselves up in a good position to team up with the legal industry’s game changers soon.
What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow so let’s get innovative
Bill Gates once said “success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”. Just because your firm has been successful in the past doesn’t mean it will be successful in the future. Through innovation you can find better solutions that give your firm a competitive edge and allow you to meet client demands through the implementation of more successful products, processes, services, and technologies.
Want to learn how Automio can help you innovate and stay ahead of the game? Click here to book your free demo.