Lawyers are supposedly averse to innovation. Apparently, someone forgot to inform these law firms and companies.
- Allen & Overy, whose FIG Global Compensation Tracker helps banks and hedge funds monitor compensation reform initiatives
- Campbell Law Group of Boulder, Colorado, which is developing a global distributed legal support infrastructure for social enterprises
- Choate Hall & Stewart and WilmerHale in Boston, which provide financial investment services for their clients
- Clearspire of Washington, DC, and Radiant Law of London, two outstanding examples of the future high-value law firm
- Face2Face Solicitors, a nationwide British franchise operation for small law firms and solos
- LawLab, a regional Australian boutique that has created Launch in-house, a client-empowering online conveyancing program
- Marque Lawyers of Sydney, Australia, a fixed-fee business law boutique that cheerfully breaks every rule in the Law Firm Book
- Pannone of Manchester, UK, whose standalone Affinity Solutions division offers “white-label” legal services
- Reed Smith, whose new general counsel practice group offers GCs inquiry hotlines and “instant networking” opportunities
- Solo Practice University, whose new “Building Bridges to Professional Excellence” program creates innovative partnerships with law schools
- Temple Bright LLP of Bristol, UK, a no-staff, paperless business law boutique that promises no delegation to junior lawyers
- Upstart Legal of Philadelphia, a startup that delivers customized legal documents to entrepreneurial clients
- Venable LLP, with 7 US offices, whose Venture Services program defers 50% of startup clients’ fees based on funding success
These are just some of the most innovative developments in the legal marketplace over the past year — this short list doesn’t touch on the increasing use of alternative fees in law firms, the development of low-cost non-lawyer service providers, and the continuing evolution of legal process outsourcing providers. Innovation in the legal market is real, and if you’re not actively pursuing innovations of your own, you’re in danger of missing out on a critical period in the profession’s history.
But if you’re currently pursuing or have implemented innovations in your law firm (or law department, law school, startup company, etc.), then you have less than three weeks left to submit a nomination for a 2011 InnovAction Award, sponsored by the College of Law Practice Management. The InnovAction Awards, of which I’m proud to serve as Chair, recognize outstanding innovation in the delivery of legal services, the managing or marketing of a law firm, or the conduct of client relationships.
This year, as this Inside Legal announcement explains, the Awards have slightly altered their criteria. No longer is it required that winning entries do something that has “never been done before” — we recognized that innovation is too widespread and too viral in the marketplace to continue to require absolute lack of precedent. Instead, we’re now applying a more nuanced four-part criteria:
- Disruption: Does this entry change an important element of the legal services process for the better, and marketplace expectations along with it?
- Value: Is the client and/or legal industry better off because of this entry, in terms of the affordability, ease, relevance or its effect on legal services?
- Effectiveness: Has this entry delivered real, demonstrable or measurable benefits, for the provider, its clients, or the marketplace generally?
- Originality: Is this a novel idea or approach, or a new twist on an existing idea or approach?
If you’ve undertaken and accomplished an innovation within your enterprise within the last three years that fits these criteria, I strongly encourage you to seek out the peer recognition you deserve. More details and an entry form are available at the InnovAction website, and I’m available anytime to answer any questions you might have.
It’s time to go innovate. If you’ve already done so, it’s time to come collect your reward.