Last week, Georgetown Law hosted two very interesting conferences related to innovation in law practice. One was about technology trends and the other about regulatory disruption in the legal market. Do you also want to get ahead of the pack?
As with all innovations, there is a small leading group that is ahead of the pack. It was heartwarming to meet a room full of such frontrunners, who have all embraced technology and innovation as a valuable opportunity. The question is, will these frontrunners be able to lead the rest of the legal profession into the era of information and technology?
There is certainly a lot to be gained from embracing opportunities provided by big data, globalization and technology. Thanks to its SeyfarthLean initative, Seyfarth Shaw—and other firms like it—is ahead of its peers, especially in the labor and employment market. Goodwin Procter has a leg up within the entrepreneurial community because of the Founders workbench service platform it built for that group of customers.
Innovation has benefited corporate legal counsel. From the Bank of Montreal to Choice Hotels International, there were many examples of corporate counsel benefiting from taking a novel approach to dealing with legal issues and outside legal counsel.
Innovation offers novel job opportunities, especially technology-related jobs. While e-discovery may still be novel to some, there are many and more interesting opportunities for lawyers with a knack for technology, as David Zvenyach of 18F demonstrated.
Rate of adoption
Getting other firms, or even other lawyers within the same firm, to adopt technology or other innovations was frequently mentioned as a major challenge. Adopting innovations is often difficult, so it would behoove the legal profession to learn from other industries.
The adoption of robot technology in operating rooms followed a very interesting trajectory. First, there were the pioneers who adopted it because of the opportunity to do something new. The second wave of adoption was driven by the benefits, and the fact that the robot helped attract (new) patients. The third wave of adopters had different motivations, such as, they could make the robot work in their setting. In sum, convincing others to adopt is a process by itself, and there are many examples showing that having a great product or solution alone does not sell or hook others automatically.
As a final remark, inventors could benefit from reading Sinek’s Circle of Why. A lot of the technology presentations started with the “what” and “how”—which, as Sinek explains, is not as inspiring as the “why.”
External investors needed (?)
Innovation requires making investments, no doubt about that. In a low-capital intensive industry like law, these investments are moderate and mostly consist of hours and opportunity costs. However, innovations requiring software and hardware development can be costly. Will these innovations occur without external investment? This question led to a heated debate.
Great Britain and Australia are leading the profession when it comes to alternative business structures that allow for such capital investments. As it turns out, especially in the consumer law market, alternative structures have enabled firms like Slater & Gordon to thrive.
Yet, interestingly enough, organizations with the least amount of money to spare, those working in the pro-bono domain, seem to be very innovative too, and with what are probably smaller investment budgets. So money isn’t everything.
In the meantime, the verdict on where investment needs to come from to make innovation activities thrive in the legal industry seems to be still up in the air.
Interested in taking on new challenges and conquering novel opportunities, but unsure of how to orchestrate these activities? We are here to help you get a process and framework in place to streamline your innovation efforts and to ensure your investments pay off. For more information, contact us at info”at” organizing4innovation”dot” com or visit our website to learn more www.organizing4innovation.com.
Adoption of the davinci robot