Michelle Mahoney, Executive Director, Innovation at international law firm King & Wood Mallesons – says innovation is all about mindset. Here she identifies the 5 Mindsets shaping how legal partnerships are navigating to future that’s about new markets, new services and new systems.
You can have great toolsets and great skillsets, but they lead nowhere unless you’re client focused and targeted for growth.
The legal sector is moving from the ties of 6 minute charging intervals to actively generating creative partnerships with clients. This different perspective on commercial thinking and the client experience is seeing an expansion in offerings far beyond traditional compliance services.
The marketplace is looking to agile providers that can help them be competitive, stay ahead of regulatory changes and keep abreast of market trends.
Many in the legal sector are constrained in their ability to innovate because, unlike most enterprises, they run on financial models that distribute profits to partners at year end. As there are no retained earnings, there’s little or no R&D budget available to test new ideas.
To make holistic changes requires absolute buy in from the firm’s partners. The new culture and vision have to be continuously reinforced to make it a natural mindset. An investment commitment is essential to bring innovation to life, by facilitating development, marshalling resources and bringing to bear whatever it takes - marketing, processes and toolsets, IT and training.
While companies strive to produce their own innovative products and services, governments are scrabbling to create the legal frameworks that will not only keep up with digital disruption, but also regulate new developments. This frenetic activity is opening new opportunities for law firms.
Co-designing app or system solutions to administrative blocks or service delivery deepen relationships while assisting clients to work smarter.
Internal placements or outsourcing arrangements not only create workflow efficiencies but those embedded people are thinking deeply about their client’s specific legal and business needs - bringing advantages to both supplier and customer.
Working smarter means process refinement, digitised services apps and adaptations that are ready for technological breakthroughs such as blockchain, machine learning and AI.
Everybody has a role to play in thinking differently and executing on it. Staff demonstrate through their KPIs where they’re supporting innovation – be it leveraging personal expertise or suggesting workplace improvements or new ways to work with clients.
The future depends on the quality and agility of young emerging professionals. They’re looking for employers that are embracing the best technologies to create stimulating workplaces and support highly professional client relations.
For most of the new tools being designed for the legal sector, the thinking is to augment human capacity with great technology.
The tech being adopted is changing commonly offered services such as contract review. Rather than throwing people at reading every clause and finding anomalies, automated tools can identify and isolate where you need to apply your brains - the value is in the analysis and advice.
Most legal firms have practice specialisations but if the key people are not available to respond to queries there can be costly losses. Firms are developing tools that automate the initial problem assessment.
Photo: Flickr User PAXSON WOELBER
This article is part of the Innovators Series
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