Technological advancement and innovation are huge trends in the legal sector. Clients are demanding more of law firms; it is a given that their lawyers are experts and know the law, in today’s market, clients expect services to be delivered cost-effectively, at the right level, with 24/7 access and with the ability to pick and choose between legal and non-legal services.
Innovation is more than a ‘buzz’ word, it’s in the press, on the agenda in board meetings, appearing on tenders and new roles are beginning to emerge because of it. DLA Piper appointed a ‘Director of Innovation’ in 2017 and in 2018 Linklaters and Slaughter and May announced they had recruited a ‘Head of Innovation’, with many others following suit.
Law firms can’t afford to stand still, but where are the opportunities for innovating today for tomorrows market?
Collaborating with clients
One of the biggest opportunities to innovate is increasing the level of collaboration with clients. How often does your firm ask clients what they want or need?
Regular and direct feedback is an incredibly powerful tool as it can give insight into potentially crucial developments. It is essential to record this information correctly, with appropriate detail and share it throughout departments.
Legal Design, a user-centred approach which assesses and creates legal services with a focus on how usable, useful and engaging these services are for the client, is a great example of this. Questions can be asked, such as; where are the opportunities within your processes to improve and make this client friendly? And what technology do you need to adopt to implement these changes?
Engaging with your teams
Often individuals have an interest in innovating, but either don’t know where to start or get stuck. The business has a critical role in providing the time and facilitating opportunities to initiate or continue building on original thinking.
Innovation hubs are a great way to create an ideas pathway driven from teams – they will provide the best possible insight into the changes that will transform the business. An innovation workshop or hub provides all staff with the time (and confidence) to reflect and innovate.
Ultimately, building an approach to innovation is an opportunity to showcase the firm’s commitment to change to its employees and clients.
Creating new partnerships opens the doors to wider viewpoints, increased business efficiency and improved client retention.
Collaborations enable greater achievements than any firm would be able to achieve in isolation. Such collaborations need not be formal nor expensive commercial ventures; firms can get huge value from simple conference networking and meet-ups.
The opportunities for partnerships are limitless and can include tech providers, universities, or firms who offer complementary services.
University schemes referred to as ‘knowledge transfer partnerships’ allow for collaboration with businesses and universities, providing the institution with increased funding and experience and the firm with a larger pool of technological expertise.
Not all initiatives have to be disruptive. Great ideas can centre around driving operational efficiencies and delivering better ways of working.
Undertaking a review of your working methods can provide efficiency gains of up to 10% on your current practices. Data is key here. If you have the right data points throughout the life cycle of a matter you can begin to capture valuable information to help you tackle issues such as reducing WIP, improving pricing accuracy and ensuring the right specialists are doing the right work at the right level. If you don’t already routinely collect this type of data, start planning how you can now as you will reap rewards so quickly!
Can you maintain the momentum?
Adopting a more collaborative approach with your clients, improving or establishing partnerships and reviewing efficiencies can kick start the creative thinking process. However, in order to stay ahead of the market not only does innovation need to be an ongoing, established and recognised practice in your firm, it also needs to be underpinned by supporting structures as ultimately, it is how these ideas are executed and adopted that provides the differentiation between you and your competitor.
For more information about innovation initiatives in your firm, please contact Tiggy Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07826850191.