Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to moderate the final panel of the Canadian Legal Innovation Forum’s 2021 Spring Webinar Series.
This panel was part of the Law Firm Innovation Summit on new and innovative methods of legal service delivery. I was joined by some fantastic people who provide cutting edge service within the legal industry:
Rob Morris, National Chief Operating Officer at BLG and the creative mind behind BLG Beyond, which offers eDiscovery, contract management, and advisory services;
Gillian Scott, Partner, Innovative Products as Osler, who provides strategic leadership on the launch and management of Osler’s innovative legal products, including Osler Dash and Osler ACTion;
Darlene Tonelli, Founder of Inter Alia Law, which brings the expertise of seasoned in-house counsel to companies with either no in-house lawyer, or an overburdened legal department; and
Paul-Erik Veel, litigation partner at Lenczner Slaght and leader of their Data-Driven Decisions program, which combines available technology with pioneering research on litigation, allowing their litigators to make expert decisions based on empirical evidence.
You can watch the recording of the webinar here. Even though these panelists are forging their own unique paths through the world of legal innovation, some common themes arose pretty quickly. Here are some of the key takeaways.
A big part of legal service delivery is helping clients understand what they want.
Sometimes you have to offer them a car when what they say they want is a faster horse. That is to say, clients aren’t always in the best position to understand what they need in order to do things in the most efficient and cost-effective way. As innovators, we can demonstrate our expertise by showing clients the areas where they could be optimizing performance, and generating creative solutions to get them there.
The culture of legal innovation is shifting towards law firms as innovators.
Traditionally, legal services have been driven by clients. They would express a need, and the law firm would respond accordingly. Now, law firms need to be prepared to iterate on their own and be proactive in suggesting new ways of doing things in order to keep up with the booming legal services market. Playing it safe isn’t going to cut it anymore; law firms must be willing to take risks and not be afraid to fail.
Not everyone needs to be a T-shaped lawyer
A T-shaped lawyer is someone who has a depth of traditional skills along with a wide range of non-traditional skills. While this might sound ideal for a lawyer, there is growing recognition among full service law firms that there is value in differentiation. Lawyers have different roles to play; they don’t all need to be all things to all people in order to deliver excellent service. The most important skill you can have as an innovative lawyer is being able to recognize what tasks can be offloaded to technology.
The need for affordable and efficient legal services will always be there. What we as innovators must continue to do is come up with new ways to push the innovation agenda, because our limits extend far beyond what our clients can envision.