Disruptive forces of innovation are shaking up the legal industry - alternative business structures, process management, and technology can help law firms respond to market demands while delivering better value to corporate clients. At the Corporate Counsel Congress held in New York this past June, Allegory founder and CEO, Alma Asay, was invited to speak alongside a panel of leading legal practice innovators on the future of legal services.
- Alma Asay, founder and CEO of Allegory Law
- Joe Borstein, Global Director at Thomson Reuters
- Travis Lenkner, Managing Director at Gerchen Keller Capital LLC
- J. Stephen Poor, Chair of Seyfarth Shaw LLP
- Mark Smolik, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer at DHL Global Business Services
Responding to disruption
Lawyers are not Luddites by nature, rather, their roles demand a high sensitivity to risk. Innovation, however, creates dramatic shifts in the landscape and often demands huge leaps of faith. How then do law firms navigate the narrow path that might help them to survive the paradigm shift thrust on them by technology?
Changing the delivery of legal services
Panelists outlined the forces which are shaping changes to the delivery of legal services such as a growing volume of work, pressure on corporate legal departments to prove their value while working with flat or slashed budgets, and the rise of legal process outsourcing.
Managing law firms as a business
That law firms must now operate as businesses was a given, but much of the panel's discussion centered around the barriers to delivery and the different ways firms have responded to these demands. Notably, successful firms, big and small, have overhauled their processes and found new ways to provide services, and many also look to legal process outsourcing as a complement to their business instead of competition.
How to adapt and innovate
Given the pressures on both law firms and corporate counsel to adapt and innovate, Asay offered suggestions for moving forward:
Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are receptive to new technology, but it must be built specifically for them.
Working with legal teams to identify and define fixed legal processes is a necessary first step before demanding that they charge fixed rates for their services.
The top BigLaw firms, boutiques, and the firms in the middle that strive to innovate and put a premium on lawyers doing lawyer work will be the firms that survive.
As summarized by Mark Smolik: "law firms that embrace these changes and who adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to providing legal services, will thrive and build a platform for sustainable growth with their clients."