23 October 2018

Lawyers struggling to innovate, says report

New study, drawing on talent analytics, offers insight into how to overcome barriers to innovation in a change-averse legal profession.

In ‘Overcoming barriers to law Innovation: unlocking performance and potential to drive change in an era of disruption,’ undertaken by consultancy GrowthPlay, law firms and legal departments are offered guidance on how they can identify potential innovators within their ranks and develop skills to accelerate their efforts to change.

Struggling to innovate

The study is authored by long-time industry consultant and strategist Debra Baker. Ms Baker explains a real conundrum around innovation, explaining ‘lawyers are smart, and they're great problem solvers, but, even as they see rapid and dramatic market changes impacting their profession, they consistently struggle with the concept of innovation.’ The study aims to provide important insights to lawyers looking to take the first step to integrate innovation into their business strategy, as well as for those that have had success in developing new innovations but struggle implementing new approaches because of change resistance. The firm adds that a recent Altman Weil study backs up the observation that only 5.6 percent of managing partners have a high degree of confidence in their firm's ability to innovate. 

Findings and recommendations

The study resulted in three key findings for law leaders looking to drive change. First, the DNA of an innovator has 11 essential elements that can be measured using talent analytics. Second, a lawyer’s ability to sell is highly correlated to a lawyer’s ability to innovate. Third, with data, leaders can reduce the implicit bias that deters innovation. Based on these findings, Ms Baker offers three recommendations for those looking to jump-start innovation among the lawyers they manage. First, to assess whether the members of your current innovation team possess the right traits, and identify new potential innovators within your organization. Second, to recognise that sales skills are innovation skills, and invest in developing these skills in your attorneys. Third, to build innovation teams based on the Law Innovator’s DNA rather than looking solely to resume, or worse, ‘gut feel.’ The report can be accessed here.