Innovation in practice.
Why it’s so hard.

December 15, 2006

In the December issue of Law Practice Magazine, published by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section, Eric Mankin hits the nail on the head in terms of the lack of innovation in law firms. Mankin has been the Executive Director of Babson’s Research Center on Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship since 2004.

According to Mankin, there are three big barriers to institutional innovation:

1. Structure. This is especially true in the law which is based on precedent.

2. Conduct. The way most law practices operate are antithetical to innovation. The billable hour, for example, rewards the status quo and inhibits innovation.

3. Performance. Law firms avoid innovation because “the profession has the best combination of high pay and large numbers of any major economic sector in the United States.” Yet the right innovations can improve both quality and productivity.

All is not lost though, according to Mankin, while there are barriers to innovation, there are also four keys to law firm innovation:

1. Have a clear “path to value.”

2. Experiment.

3. Ask your customers.

4. Exercise your change muscles.

While innovation is a challenge in any industry, those law firms who innovate successfully will be on the right path to continued high performance.

Click here to read Eric Mankin’s entire article in Law Practice magazine.

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