LawFest organiser Andrew King continues a series of interviews with key legal professionals with their innovation and technology stories.

What does legal innovation mean to you?

It means opportunity and optimism in the face of a demanding, evolving and unknown future.

What role does technology play in innovation?

Technology and a future-focused mindset are critical to enabling innovation in the legal sector.

Both will allow us to engage in ambitious projects that support creative thought, new learnings and competitive edge.

What pressures are organisations facing in the delivery of legal services?

The pressure is certainly real. Clients, community and colleagues alike are eager to participate in the new wave of legal service delivery.

For Govett Quilliam, a firm with a 130-year history, we’re moving purposefully to address the pressures. We’re doing this by considering our strategic directions, adapting to more collaborative work-styles, incrementally adopting useful technology and embracing transformation as a team.

As an industry, we have the potential to deliver significant social value through improved legal services; services that improve the experience and the outcome, and that’s exciting.

What opportunities has legal innovation brought you?

Of particular note, I think legal innovation has allowed us to explore the strategic and social opportunities, as a team.

Although not early adopters of ‘legal-tech’, our firm has a strong future-focus which is undoubtedly recognised by our community and clients.

Having a commitment to changing the established ways of working is also assisting our efforts to attract and retain exceptional people, and appeal to an entrepreneurial international market of clients; both enduring challenges for regional firms.

What are some of your tips to start innovating or developing an innovative mindset?

I believe that inspiration is at the heart of any innovative organisation. For us at GQ, this means ensuring our team understands and is excited by the journey of change.

Create an innovation and opportunities committee, relentlessly encourage collaboration and creative thinking, develop partnerships with clever operators, invest in useful technology, and create an engaging environment that people enjoy working in.

What are some of your tips to start innovating or developing an innovative mindset?

Keep it simple – identify a problem and find a solution. We do not need to be tech-experts to do this in practice. Indeed, this is what lawyers do on a daily basis. Many of Evolution Lawyers’ innovations have come from having to deal with something unsatisfactory in existing, normal practice. Rather than tolerating the issue, we find a way to fix it – immediately, if possible.

There are many excellent, cost-effective steps that firms could take right now. For example, two-step authentication, digital signing, legal working day calculators, and more. Some of those benefits are free. One just has to investigate and try them.

Work with professional developers. As lawyers, we see the consequences of the bush lawyer or the legal dabbler trying to do their own legal work. We engage a competent professional to build our software, so that it can be maintained by any professional in the future. For us, we see it as a risk to build sustainable software ourselves, and a heavy time commitment to learn to code. So, we leave that job to the experts.

Why is it important for legal professionals to continue to learn about legal innovation and leveraging technology?

Our people need to commit to continuous learning. In fact our collective comfort around change is critical to our success as a profession.

It’s now our role as leaders to gently and respectfully introduce legal-tech and innovative practices as the ‘new norm’.

Andrew King andrew@lawfest.nz is organiser of LawFest 2019, which will be held in Auckland on 21 March. Sophie Braggins will be one of the speakers at this event.