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LegalTech Advice
Rhys Hodkinson

Why innovation is critical for the survival of the legal industry

Innovation within law

‘Innovation’ has become somewhat of a buzzword, often overused and misunderstood. Most law firm leaders agree that innovation will play a crucial role in future-proofing their firm, but the jury is still out on what innovation means or looks like. 

Innovation should not be seen as a sequence of isolated actions, but as a way of thinking - a cultural shift in mindset to challenge the assumptions underpinning your organisation’s operations. Fostering an innovative culture is the bedrock of driving change through technology or otherwise and getting it right can take up a significant amount of a firm’s already stretched resources. This leads to the obvious question, is it even worth doing? Especially given how successful firms have been over the past decade and since the pandemic.

Well, just look at other industries; Airbnb turned the hotel industry on its head, Spotify revolutionised how music is consumed, and Amazon has changed the way we shop forever. Failure to innovate could have catastrophic long-term consequences for the legal industry with rising pressures from clients to drive productivity whilst holding budgets constant and the next generation of lawyers prioritising wellbeing, opening the door for new models to disrupt the incumbents.

A recent study by Harbour found that 86% of law firms, big and small, are under pressure to reduce fees and rely less on the billable hour model. Another recent survey of lawyers by the IBA found that: 

  • 20% of young lawyers are thinking about leaving the legal industry entirely; 
  • 60% of young lawyers cited a lack of work/life balance as a major concern; and
  • 40% believe legal technology and AI are critical to their future within the profession. 

With clients unwilling to pay for excessive hours spent on tasks that can be automated using technology, and employees looking to be liberated from mundane tasks, it’s clear that the law firms who fail to innovate not only risk losing business but talent as well.

The values of young lawyers are changing. Increasing salaries or offering other pecuniary incentives may have a transitory effect on employee morale but they are not a long-term solution to what is a systemic problem facing the legal industry. It is imperative that we all, as stakeholders in the legal industry, innovate towards a holistic solution that addresses the changing landscape. 

The IBA survey reinforces the notion that technology will be key to the industry's longevity. Most legal organisations have onboarded technology that seeks to streamline the client journey and experience. Solutions that help solve the pain points lawyers face in their day-to-day work are often overlooked. Firms need to be thinking about all stakeholders in the legal service delivery value chain, including their own lawyers and addressing the bottlenecks or pain points faced across the entire spectrum. 

Harnessing legal technology to remove bottlenecks and unlock friction-free working for lawyers is critical to success and future-proofing your law firm. Law firms that fail to address this issue early on will get left behind as legal technology becomes an increasingly attractive proposition for legal talent. 

To find out how Definely helps organisations free their lawyers from frustrating, repetitive tasks within the contract lifecycle so they can get back to the work that matters most to them and their clients, book a demo now.

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