The legal profession has come a long way as we have moved from asking why we need to innovate and leverage technology to asking how we go about it. However, we are still only starting to take advantage of the opportunities that many other industries have embraced for many years.
Most law firms are facing greater pressures from their clients to reduce costs, whilst delivering faster and better legal services.
There is greater competition from firms that are leveraging technology to provide a more cost-effective offering to their clients – including new sources of competition, with professional services firms, technology companies and alternative legal providers moving into the legal market.
The competition may no longer be what it has traditionally been!
Changes were already happening before COVID-19 – the experience has just brought more along for the ride. The necessity of the pandemic demonstrated that the legal profession could adapt and work differently if they have to. Barriers to change quickly disappeared as many were forced to make changes to traditional practices in weeks that may have previously taken years to implement.
As we move forward to help the legal profession innovate through the 21st century, the following innovations will continue to be essential.
Prioritising People, Process and then Technology
Innovation starts with people, process and then comes the technology. Too often we can get caught up in innovation being just about embracing technology, believing it will solve the problem. Technology is simply an enabler – not a solution in itself.
Before considering any new technology be clear about what you need to achieve to meet your business goals – and if technology can enable you to do this.
More important is building the right culture inside organisations to enable innovation, facilitating a culture that is adaptable, curious and open to change.
Moving from internal focussed innovation to client centric innovation
For a long time when we talk about legal innovation, the primary focus has been on internal efficiencies.
There have been some great internal improvements as many repetitive and time-consuming administrative tasks can now be performed more efficiently through technology. This frees up lawyers to spend more time working with their clients to create better outcomes.
As we move forward, there will be further tasks that can be improved. These internal efficiencies are great, but we can go further and put client needs at the centre of innovation.
This means continually thinking how things are done from the client perspective. Clients are changing, so too are their needs and expectations – it is important the legal profession continually adapt legal services to meet these changes.
Adapting legal services to be more accessible, convenient and valuable for clients is crucial. This may include taking advantage of collaborative platforms to work together to solve client problems.
Continuing to adapt and innovate
As we embrace a new normal, the way the legal profession is working will continue to evolve, and with it so will the need to continually look at new ways of working and innovating how legal services are delivered.
We are not there yet!
In this age of disruption, you simply cannot stand still, as everything moves so quickly – your requirements change, your clients’ requirements change, whilst your technology and processes can quickly become obsolete. It is important to keep abreast of what is available, what others are doing and what is around the corner – to find the right path to suit you!
We should continue to ask – how can we do this better? All to deliver legal services that are more efficient, profitable, whilst providing greater value and outcomes for clients.
Those that are open to innovation and embracing technology will be the ones that lead the way. The ones that choose not to, could be left behind by an increasingly competitive market.