RESOURCES

Legal Innovation: A How to Guide

December 14, 2018

If you ask 100 lawyers what they do, at least 95 would say, “I solve my clients’ problems.” The best will tell you they find innovative solutions to their clients’ problems. So why do so few law firms embrace innovation?

According to Altman Weil’s 2018 Law Firms in Transition Survey, fewer than 6% of law firm leaders believe that their firms can innovate. That’s a big problem because the legal industry is already facing disruption. The scary thing is that many lawyers don’t even know it and refuse to acknowledge the facts:

  • During 10 years of sustained economic growth, the demand for legal services has remained flat.
  • LegalZoom and RocketLawyer are already commoditizing legal services.
  • Technology like document automation and predictive coding are already reducing the number of lawyers needed for client projects.

If firms don’t innovate now, they won’t survive. So how do you make innovation easier for law firm partners who so often resist change? You make it about the client.

Here are a few responses you can use if your partners object to innovative projects or investing in technology like Connective Counsel:

  • “Your clients use technology in their business. We need to show them that we understand technology and want them to be successful.”
  • “Clients want to see innovation from their service providers, including their lawyers.”
  • “In the last 10 years, the pace of law practice has gotten ten times faster. We have to innovate to meet client demands.”
  • “Clients won’t pay for administrative services. We need to find ways to reduce our costs, and technology is the answer.”

We know these responses work, because we’ve used them successfully. Connective Counsel was born from client demand for law firm innovation at a mid-size law firm in Cleveland, Ohio. The decision-maker-in-chief at the firm’s largest client was constantly on the run. He wanted to:

  1. access all of his legal files in one place,
  2. receive updates on projects in a secure manner, and
  3. use an intuitive, modern app interface, not a clunky data room repurposed to meet his needs.

The firm looked for a solution, but couldn’t find anything that met its needs. Instead they invested in innovation, and we built them an app. There were certainly bumps along the way. But by using the responses above, they achieved buy in across the firm. The result was overwhelmingly positive client feedback, new client relationships, and recruitment of energetic new partners.

After all, law firm partners understand one thing exceedingly well: If you don’t keep your clients happy, you won’t have clients for long.

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