“In recent years, left-brain types have had the upper hand while starry-eyed innovators have struggled to get a hearing. Nevertheless, before innovation slips any further down the list of corporate priorities, we need to remind ourselves that we owe everything to innovation.”
– From What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, by Gary Hamel
Did you hear that left-brainers? Law firms aren’t known for their willingness to embrace innovation. But ignore innovation at your peril. So, what exactly are we talking about when we use the word innovation? In a law firm, innovation can mean any number of things. Here are just a few areas that are ripe for innovation in most law firms:
• Re-examining how you deliver your services
• Considering value pricing or alternative fee agreements
• Providing flex-time to employees or allowing them to work virtually
• Expanding your core competencies around business and leadership
• Leveraging cloud-based case management or other services
So why does innovation matter? Innovation matters because if you’re not innovating you’re being commoditized. Innovation matters because law firms that don’t innovate will lose clients to the firms that do or to online legal service providers. Innovation matters because law firms that continue to innovate will distinguish themselves from companies that provide legal services online.
But as I mentioned above, innovation can be a real challenge for lawyers and law firms. If you’re ready to think seriously about innovation for your firm, check out this post from 2006. (Yes, 2006!!!) And be sure to read the article by Eric Mankin referenced there. Mankin’s article provides both an excellent analysis of why it’s so hard for law firms to innovate and four keys to making innovation happen in your firm.