5 Forms of Legal Innovation

Innovation in the legal industry isn’t limited to just technology. It takes many forms. A recent post by Roy Strom in the American Lawyer titled “Are Lawyers Ready to be Managed by Metrics?” and our April 3rd Nimble Legal Innovation Forum in Cleveland got me thinking about all the different ways innovation is taking hold in the legal industry. There will always be detractors because as Roy Strom wrote the “Legal Industry is painfully slow to adopt major changes, and lawyers often say work can’t be easily categorized or simplified.” The reality is major change is happening right in front of us and if you’re not paying attention you’ll get passed by. Here are 5 forms of Legal Innovation:

  1. Structural - From law companies like Nimble, Elevate, and Axiom to the Big Four increasingly expanding their legal practices to the growth of law departments to Legal Zoom, legal work is not just done by law firms anymore and that trend is not going to change. You can read more about this in Stephen Poor’s recent post titled “INSIGHT: Big Law Waking Up to Legal Ecosystem Changes” and our post titled “New Law is Legit!

  2. Service Offerings - More and more law firms have recognized the structural changes and decided that in order to grow they need a more diverse service offering than just legal services and have either started their own consulting practices (which can requires significant capital investment) or entered into strategic partnerships with law companies like Nimble, Elevate, and Axiom (which requires minimal capital investment).

  3. Data Analysis/Process - The analogy to baseball is a little tenuous because baseball has forever been tracking statistics but the innovation in the last two decades in baseball in data analysis is not. Law firms are sitting on a TON of data that could be harnessed to provide valuable insight into pricing, significant process improvements, and ways to grow margin that those that invest the time and money up front to access and analyze that data will be at a significant competitive advantage. Strom’s post highlights some of the innovation in the data analysis area and suggests we may be judging litigators by their “persuasion rate” at some point in the future.

  4. Hiring - Keeping with the baseball analogy, some of the Houston Astros recent success is tied to using data to identify baseball players that had a “growth mindset.” This means the Astros look for a trait in available talent that were willing to change their approach based on what the data was telling them. Imagine the competitive advantage legal organizations that use behavioral data and assessments to identify key traits will have when it comes to successful hiring and retention. Many firms still rely on a team of lawyers who “know what they’re looking for” but if you examined those firms hiring success rate, the data likely tells a different story.

  5. Technology - There is no denying the explosion of available legal technology in the last few years. From analysis of court decisions to practice management to client relationship management to contract review to contract analysis to artificial intelligence to blockchain to e-discovery. It’s all there. The hard part is identifying what are your organizations needs and which technologies fit those needs, are user-friendly, and are at the right price.

Want to learn more about legal innovation? Come to our Nimble Legal Innovation Forum on April 3rd in Cleveland.