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Innovation and law - what's up?

Posted 10/5/2017

I just spent two days at the legal innovation event Lexpo'17 in Amstedam this week. What a collection of speakers and good discussion. Ron Friedmann, Jordan Furlong, Rohit Talwar, Adam Billing, Daniel Katz and Katie Atkinson, among others, shared their ideas and thinking with us. Below you will find some observations from the session.

I got reassured that design thinking is not used enough in legal area. It is especially important when new kinds of of players are emerging. Design thinking is a great way to differentiate and create novel user experience. Complexity does not sell that well anymore.

The challenges ahead may be daunting. How to utilise AI? How to digitise my business? What kind of techologies and tool are emerging? What new skills and competencies are required? How the company or team should be organised? Where to start? To get going you may need to start your team's or company's change gradually. Identify an area where your own team and/or customers can get quick and clear value and benefits. Get moving. One example could be to use AI to improve your knowledge management. Old and inefficient (or non-existing) filing systems are soon out of date. Contract automation and e-signing are also easy examples for quick value and benefits.

How to get your lawyers onboard will be a million dollar question. Who will be the person(s) who can support you and move others? Is the top management itself committed? Are you? How to reduce the fear and ignite excitement? Do you have the right people on the bus? Are you following the right metrics and incentivising the desired performance and goals? Change is not easy but it is inevitable. You can get and may need external support to ensure success of your transition.

Importance of blogs and social media in law firms and amongst lawyers seems to still be underestimated, and it is not going away. Founder off LexBlog Kevin O'Keefe shared very pragmatic and clear examples and views on social media and it's importance. Be social.

Professor David B. Wilkins from Harward law school offered us many interesting insights. He also called for more collaboration between legal service providers and law schools. Very important and welcomed development. He also promoted their few day sessions for law firm partners and general counsels. These are worth checking out.

One thing seems sure: new and old technology will change the ways that we work and our processes. Many old good things and elements will still remain. Understanding your customers, great service experience and trust are always in fashion. Interestingly enough, the first international conference in AI and Law (ICAIL) was organised already in 1987.

Even if some markets are still fairly closed and space for new service providers is limited I feel even more certain that the change we have been expecting for many years already, is finally approaching. It will not be the end of us lawyers and it will provide us great new opportunities.