LegalOrganizing for innovation

Legal (Breakthrough) Innovation

Innovationbreaking through legal innovation

Legal innovation may not be mainstream, but it certainly happens, as the yearly issue of the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer attests. The number of law schools that offer entrepreneurship and innovation courses is growing too. So are the number of legal innovation labs, such as the NuLawLab at Northeastern University and ReInvent Law at Michigan State.

Breakthrough Innovation

What about breakthrough innovations, innovations that have the potential to upset the legal industry?

Recently, the Harvard Law School held a workshop to discuss this topic. In this workshop, opinions on the status of breakthrough innovations in the legal industry varied. LegalZoom, offering internet-based legal services to the low end of the market, was mentioned as an example. However, although Legal Zoom may have the potential to upset the industry, so far it has not. On the other hand, its presence has resulted in an increase of legal customers, since the firm addresses a currently underserved market. So while history has shown that few innovations have upset the legal industry, that is no reason not to innovate.

What type of innovation will change the legal industry and benefit society most?  

The purpose of innovation should be to benefit society. As such, it really does not matter what type of innovation achieves this—breakthrough, incremental, or next generation. It may therefore be more worthwhile to just start innovating, instead of focusing on ways to achieve “breakthroughs.” However, without a structured approach to innovation, regular innovations, let alone breakthrough innovations, probably won’t happen.

Where does your firm stand when it comes to innovation?

Although the importance of legal innovation is growing in academia, few law firms have a structured innovation process in place. Is your firm one of the few that:

  • Uses a structured approach to innovation?
  • Provides education on how to innovate in the legal context?
  • Generates new revenue as a result of innovation efforts?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, you are missing opportunities to attract new clients, as well as missing potential for growth that would especially benefit your associates and junior partners.

Interested in learning how to organize for innovation? Please visit our website at or contact us by e-mail: info “at” organizing4innovation “dot” com.



Financial Times Innovative Lawyer

North Eastern University’s NuLaw Lab

Michigan State’s ReInvent Law 

Link to Harvard Law School seminar

James Moliterno, 2013,The American Legal Profession in Crises, Oxford University Press