Creating a game-changing innovation culture
By Matthew Stringer, Chief Experience Officer at Stridon
The pandemic has fast-forwarded the technology revolution in the legal sector– in fact, digital transformation has become a top priority for law firm leaders, with 51% saying the pandemic has fuelled plans to invest in even more technology.
Legal firms are thinking differently about technology. They have seen that it’s capable of fundamentally transforming the delivery of legal services, the day-to-day experience of lawyers, and streamlining internal operations to significantly increase efficiencies.
Now quite rightly - as this latest research from Briefing confirms, law firm leaders are pausing, taking stock of what’s worked over the last 18 months and are prioritising projects and building longer-term strategic plans.
And strategic planning is crucial because without this long-term transformation vision, implementing digital change can become a piecemeal endeavour that misses the mark when it comes to improving alignment between lawyers and business operations.
Rethinking the future law firm – why it pays to put people first
For a digital change programme to be effective and truly transformative, people have to be at the centre of everything. By working with internal teams across the different practice areas ensures that an environment is built that seeks to engage with individuals more deeply, so they buy into what the firm is trying to achieve.
Getting everyone – from administrative teams to senior lawyers - to contribute their insights on how working differently would benefit clients, boost fee-earning capacity, and make them happier and more motivated in their role, will enable law firms to gain new insights on where the opportunities lie to leverage technology and differentiate themselves in the market.
Rather than being an end in itself, every technology investment needs to be made with an outcome in mind – this could be enabling enhanced client interactions, improved team collaboration, increased accuracy and speed of processes, or a complete transformation in the day-to-day responsibilities of staff.
Ultimately, the aim is to offer faster and better legal services at competitive prices. Freeing lawyers to conduct their work more efficiently – and with greater independence.
But there are even greater opportunities on the horizon for those law firms that want to truly think outside the box.
What defines the future law firm really?
Automation has been a hot topic for some years now, as law firms look to speed up internal and client-facing transactions and eliminate time and cost overheads by digitally enabling processes. In other words, streamlining administrative processes to deliver back time.
This is critical for law firms that effectively trade their people’s time to deliver outcomes that are billable to clients. It’s also important for giving employees an enhanced life/work experience.
Using technology to give back time represents a win-win outcome for everyone. On the one hand, it enables firms to improve the health and wellbeing of the workforce which in turn reduces the risk of burn-out or high staff turnover rates. On the other, teams and individuals can now use this freed-up time in the workplace to engage in some truly creative thinking.
At a local level, this means members within a practice group now have time to understand what clients really want – and which innovations would resonate with them in the long term. Or it could be that practice groups use this time to brainstorm business development opportunities that will add value, engaging in conversations with other practice groups on how they could co-collaborate to develop new rich opportunities or go after new sectors.
This means that alongside investing in technology, law firms must address how they incentivise and compensate their teams, to encourage people to drive some of that time efficiency back into innovation and critical thinking. Rather than focusing solely on billable hours, law firms will need to give individuals the opportunity to showcase their ideas. Creating a game-changing innovation culture that creates long-term value and new business models that add up to sustainable competitive advantage.
Law firms that focus on long-term opportunities will be best prepared for the challenges to come. Ultimately, technology is the means to an end – it should never be the end in itself.
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This commentary was written to support A New Chapter of Change report from Briefing.co.uk on November 2021