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Don't worry if it is innovative!

Posted by Gene Turner on 14-Jun-2021 08:33:41

Incubators imageAre we too focussed on whether something is innovative?

That might seem an unusual question for me to ask, you might think. After all, haven’t I been on the Advisory Board for the College of Law’s Centre for Legal Innovation for the last five years?

Isn't a large part of what LawHawk does looking at existing processes, how they can be re-engineered, and finding new ways to work for better results?

Given how little innovation has occurred in the legal profession, don’t we want to see much more of it?

Yes, those are true. However, the critical thing for us in whatever we are doing is actually making things better. We don’t do anything new just for the sake of it, and whether it is innovative doesn’t really matter.

In fact, I prefer to use something already well proven and that I know works to deliver the required result as quickly as possible, rather than to try something new without a good reason.

Give me a series of small quick wins any day over a big bang that might not happen for a year, or at all.

We work with the best software we can find and learn how to use it as well as possible, rather than try and develop any new software of our own.

This is how you actually do it and get the results you can see in our case studies.

We regularly talk to lawyers, though, who seem to think that unless what they are doing is truly innovative - something that nobody else seems to have done (leave aside that that is not likely), then it isn't worthy of doing. So instead of banking quick wins, they either:

  • spend the time and money looking at new and shiny technology without knowing what problem they are trying to solve and without checking whether there is already proven technology that can do the job with less risk; or
  • Do nothing.

I saw this recently last week. As part of my role with the Centre for Legal Innovation, I will be a coach in the CLI’s incubator programme. The project that Jemima Harris and I will be working on is:

Building a Digital Strategy focusing on developing the right tech stack for your clients, people and practice; knowing how, when and where to use data to support decision making in your practice; how your digital strategy connects to and integrates with your business strategy and performance goals; and leading and managing the change management process that links all of this together.

Apply Now

I was talking to a lawyer who has an innovation role in her firm. She mentioned that she has taken a step back from doing individual projects and is starting to pull together the strategy for her firm, seeing how tech and innovation sit within the firm. The aim is to get the key systems in place, and then look at individual solutions that will fit with that infrastructure, while also helping the wider team understand the purpose and objectives of all the change.

But while she had seen the details of the incubator and our Building a Digital Strategy project, she said

“I didn’t think it was relevant to me. I thought it would be for clever projects or software people are creating.”

No! No! No!! This type of project is exactly the type of thing we should be encouraging and seeing more of, but she was being put off applying because it doesn’t appear to be innovative enough.

If you have ideas about improvements you would like to make, and how they can help you, your business, your team and your clients, please think about applying for the Centre for Legal Innovation’s incubator. The criteria is so much broader than just being innovative. I’m more interested in seeing projects that will succeed. You can apply here.

Topics: Practise of Law, Future of Law, Legal Technology, In-House Legal, legal practice, Law Firm Management

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