Innovation in law practices is getting more and more attention, if we look at the growth of interest in the FT innovative lawyer as an indicator or barometer. However, innovation management in law is still in its infancy, especially when compared to practices used in other industries. The need and benefit seem to be misunderstood. Interestingly, the arguments against managing innovation – we are already successful, we are different, we are growing – are exactly the same as those that support innovation and innovation management: revenue growth from novel clients and services, the ability to differentiate, and sustainable growth.
1. Our clients like us, we are successful, we are extremely profitable, so why change?
I agree that the top firms are extremely successful. Which other industry makes more than a million dollars profit per year per partner? Yet, a recent ABA study shows that while clients may not say they are dissatisfied, they are actively searching for alternatives. As a result, the market for traditional legal advice is srinking. In 2014, 67% of law firms lost work to corporate clients, 24% to technology solutions and 17% to non-law firm providers. Clearly, the landscape of legal services is changing. Why are legal firms not at the forefront of this revolution, instead of watching while others take over their market share? They certainly have the knowledge and means to do so, and an orchestrated innovation approach would enable a law firm to proactively address its clients’ needs and gain rather than lose market share.
2. We are different: clients come and then stay with us because we build and foster a trust-based relationship with them.
Trust is certainly important in the legal profession. However, trust is an attribute that bonds people, not companies. With many lateral hires, trusted client relationships are as feeble as your retention rate. Wouldn’t it be smarter to build client relationships on the value your firm delivers rather than on the reputation of certain individuals? By taking this approach, clients will value the company for its work and you will keep your clients regardless of personnel changes. Innovation management will help you transform trust-based client relationships into value-based client relationships in an engaging, effective, efficient, orchestrated, and sustainable manner.
3. We are growing
Growth is an imperative for law firms, among other reasons because of their partnership structures. Sustainable growth is therefore important. However, can you say what is driving your current growth? Is it the economy? Is it lateral hires? Lateral hires imply a shift in market share, while innovation can be used to grow the total pie in the world of demand for legal services. How sustainable is your growth? An effective innovation management approach will result in a pipeline of new services and make clients flock to your firm because your services are of unmatched value.
How can you remain successful, different and growing without having in place an effective innovation infrastructure that enables your practice to develop and deliver valuable legal services that truly stand out?
Innovating in a legal practice is undeniably different from innovating in, for example, manufacturing firms. I have spent the past 15 years researching and addressing these differences. The structure and processes may be different, but there are commonalities with other types of industries. For example, successful innovators take an integrated, orchestrated approach to innovation. Merely spending money on innovation is not going to make you, or an innovation, successful.
Interested in learning how to build an effective, efficient, engaging and sustainable innovation engine that can drive growth and profitability in your law practice? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to learn more www.organizing4innovation.com.