We are in the middle of a revolution. A revolution that is shaping our expectations as consumers, as clients, as purchasers of products and services. We all want what we want right now, delivered with the minimum of fuss and at a fair price.
Netflix, Spotify, Apple, Uber, Amazon, Google, TripAdvisor – just some of the brands that are at the vanguard of this revolution, that understand what we want, that have been prepared to innovate, to invest heavily in technology and people, to continually try to improve and to be change agents. In doing so they have all become commercial leaders in their sectors.
For a number of reasons the legal profession is not immune from this change in the way we consume the world:
Firstly, because we – those people in the industry – are already enjoying the benefits of innovation and technology in everyday life. This means all of our collective expectations as consumers are higher, more demanding, less understanding of slow or inaccurate delivery of a service. This is as true for a lawyer in private practice as it is for a lawyer working in a business.
Secondly, because those firms and businesses that choose to embrace technology and innovation as a way of doing business, are starting to make their competition look weak. Do you prefer to wait 4 weeks and pay £200,000 for 30 paralegals to undertake discovery in a litigation, or wait 3 days and pay £50,000 for technology plus 2 legal technologists to do the same work?
And thirdly, which law firm or business would you rather join? One that continues to look backwards, denies change is upon us and lives in an analogue world insulated from consumers? Or one that believes innovation and technological transformation are critical to its future relevance and ability to deliver a service that is fit for purpose?
The highly demanding consumer in 2017. Competitive advantage. Attracting the best talent. All vital for sustainable success. The individuals, firms and businesses that are already showing signs of both understanding this and addressing it – and there is a significant gulf between the former and the latter – are emerging as the leaders. What those people realise is that winning as a law firm or an in-house legal function is not just about the application of blockchain, or AI as it relates to e-discovery, or mining more data, or an upgraded CRM system, or more automated marketing tools. All of these developments are exciting and are making big differences to service delivery. But they are just today’s features not tomorrow’s.
The key to winning is about something more human, something that underpins new ideas and new technology based solutions. It is about being curious. About asking questions. About being open to the answers. About wanting to know more. About not being fearful of that which one does not know. If this sounds familiar, it should: it describes a brilliant lawyer at their best.
So be curious, embrace what technology can do and respect the importance of what the individual lawyer brings. Sustainable success will follow.
To view the PDF of the article please click here.
Harbour View, Autumn 2017 published by Harbour Litigation Funding.