I had the pleasure of participating in a “Hot Topic” breakout session on legal innovation at the AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) 2019 Annual Conference and Meeting held mid-July in Washington DC.
Jean O’Grady served as moderator for a discussion with Darin Fox of the University of Oklahoma Law Library, Marlene Gebauer of Greenberg Traurig and me.
In advance of our session, we surveyed the legal market to help guide the discussion. Our survey focused on legal innovation:
- Just what is innovation?
- Who’s doing it?
- How do workers at legal organizations deal with it?
You can read about our session at Embracing Sustainable Innovation Initiatives to Build a Future-Focused Library.
A summary version of the slides I presented is below:
Here are the key takeaways:
- Legal disruption is more law firm fiction than fact, especially at the top tier of the largest firms, which is performing well by most measures even in the light of major legal change since 2008. The biggest threat is clients taking work in-house and even that is incremental, not disruptive.
- Client demand for lower cost, more predictable fees and greater efficiencies remains on the rise and fall, but in the meanwhile it has permanently forced law firms to become more competitive.
- Law firms have responded to the market’s quest for innovation in several ways: launching branded initiatives to establish their foothold, announcing data and tech plans, developing apps, promoting their innovative culture, creating new positions with “innovation” in the title and other headlines.
- Actual adoption and implementation of innovation plans and projects remains a challenge, hindered by lack of executive support, lack of funding and limited staffing resources.
If you want to be an innovator, make sure you consider these critical success factors and considerations:
- Identify an actual problem to solve, which is more important than new tech or brilliant ideas.
- Identify and gain the support of attorneys and staff in positions of power.
- Make sure you have access to an adequate budget and a team with the right skills (including technology, data analytics and the art of persuasion).
- Find and work with receptive users for grass-roots support.
- Develop a good amount of patience and perseverance.
Thank you to AALL for another great conference and the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas on the topic of legal innovation.
My next presentation on innovation takes place at ILTACON 2019 in Orlando, FL, August 18-22. I’ll be conducting an interactive workshop on the 20th, focused on “practical innovation” and how organizations can better develop and vet ideas, and then move from idea to execution. If you’re attending, please consider adding this session to your schedule.