It is no secret that technology has significantly transformed the legal profession in recent years, resulting in extensive innovation and giving rise to the ‘legal entrepreneur.’ Certainly, it can be said that innovation and entrepreneurship are ‘trending’ in today’s legal landscape, driving competition and highlighting the distinction between progressive and regressive law firms, legal professionals, and legal service providers. That said, what does it really mean to be innovative and ‘entrepreneurial’? Particularly in the legal environment which is generally more traditional, cautious and risk averse?
With insights from our co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Sacha Kirk, this article discusses entrepreneurship and innovation in the legal industry, sharing how law firms, legal professionals and legal service providers can adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to drive innovation and achieve benefits for both themselves and their clients.
In general, an entrepreneur is someone that starts a business or venture, while bearing most or all financial risks, in hopes of filling a gap or need in the market and making a profit. As such, in the context of the legal profession, a legal entrepreneur is someone that starts a business or venture that augments or changes the delivery or undertaking of legal services using technology, process or a combination of both to fill a gap in the market and make a profit. An example of legal entrepreneurship is that of our CMO Sacha Kirk, who together with our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Warwick Walsh, identified a gap and need in the legal market and co-founded the LegalTech platform Lawcadia. According to Ms Kirk, the inspiration for Lawcadia was driven by her passion to innovate and find new ways to solve problems.
“I am passionate about finding new ways to solve problems [and] I could see enormous opportunities for innovation and improvement in the way that law firms engaged with clients and in the delivery of legal services.” – Ms Kirk
As alluded to by Ms Kirk, innovation means to improve, renew, or introduce new processes, products, or services to solve problems or create new value. In a legal context therefore, innovation refers to new business models, alternative legal service providers (ALSPs), new technology and/or new processes that change, improve, or augment the way in which legal professionals complete their work and/or legal services are delivered. Innovation plays a key role in a law firm’s competitiveness in the market by supporting their digital transformation efforts and contributing to the provision of superior client experiences (CX).
Innovation and Transformation
Law firms that focus on developing a competitive advantage through digital transformation can leverage technology and innovation to optimise their processes in such a way that increases efficiencies, saves their lawyers time, and reduces operational costs. This involves streamlining workflows, automating low-risk documents and tasks, and deriving actionable insights from data that can be used for continuous innovation. Ms Kirk shared insights into how Lawcadia has considered the use of technology across the entire matter life-cycle and legal function, stating:
“We have always tried to take a holistic view of the matter life-cycle and consider how issues arise from the business and move through an internal legal team and out to external law firms. A deep understanding of the workflow, bottle necks and common challenges has been the basis for us to build technology-based solutions that span legal intake, self-service, matter management, RFPs, client collaboration and budget management through to invoicing. The entire legal function can then benefit from streamlined workflows, greater control of their legal budgets, accurate instructions, built-in document automation, collaboration tools, and actionable insights and metrics.” – Ms Kirk
As described, the goal of innovation in this case is to digitally transform how legal professionals complete their work in order to reduce costs, mitigate risk, streamline complex processes and reduce uncertainty during various stages of the matter life-cycle.
Innovation and CX
Law firms that focus on client experience can explore and implement solutions to provide clients with unique services that increases their satisfaction whilst also distilling and refining the firms’ point of differentiation. We discuss this in greater detail in our previous article “Client Experience, Technology and Legal Services”, however essentially, this process requires a client-centric mindset where methods such as design thinking and client journey mapping are utilised to develop innovative solutions for clients that are distinct to that of competitors. In Ms Kirk’s experience a client-centric approach is as applicable to law firms as it is to technology and business.
“At Lawcadia, we have a very client-centric approach where we start with the client’s problem, ideate, and develop solutions, and iterate quickly based on feedback. This has resulted in some very innovative solutions that are easy to implement and provide an exceptional user experience. We not only take this approach internally; we also routinely work with our corporate and law firm clients and partners to help them understand how they can solve problems with solutions that utilise process and technology.” – Ms Kirk
An example of this is legal intake and triage workflows, client collaboration workspaces or client intake forms all of which can be customised to cater to specific client needs and solve their individual pain points. In this case, the goal of innovation in this case is to improve service offerings such that clients are provided with a unique and superior experience than that offered by competitors.
In summary, entrepreneurship and innovation are important to increase and sustain a competitive edge and a continuously changing legal landscape. Technology innovation specifically, can be leveraged to support a law firm’s digital transformation strategy by optimising its processes for operational excellence, or its client experience strategyby offering its clients unique and superior services. Some key insights that apply to either strategy offered by Ms Kirk include:
Law firms can enhance their client relationships with a shared collaboration workspace designed for lawyers: sharing files, completed documents, status updates, messages and more.
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