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2 minute read | 10 years ago

Innovation is More Than a Buzzword

Photo of Thames Schoenvogel By: Thames Schoenvogel

It’s no surprise to anyone that the legal community is not typically classified as innovative. But as law firms and legal service providers adjust to the changing economic landscape, many of the more successful ones are adopting innovative practices to stand out and provide a higher caliber service or product. 

Innovation in the legal industry can be in any number of places: pricing and billing, expertise, project delivery and approach to resources to name a few. It’s more than just a buzzword and can be the catalyst for true, productive change if approached while keeping these key points in mind. 

  • Innovation must have a purpose. It could be driving revenue or creating new efficiencies or marketing buzz, but innovation works best when there is a defined purpose. Ask yourself: “What is the investment we are making with this innovation?”
  • Innovation can (and possibly should) occur within constraints. Those constraints may involve having to hit certain profit levels or may be about staying true to your firm’s core mission. Particularly when we are talking about more established companies or firms, successful innovation goes hand in hand with pragmatism.
  • Not all innovation is a breakthrough. Leaders often assume that true innovation must be a complete breakthrough, but successful innovations can also be core (i.e., new to your company) or edge (i.e., new to your industry).
  • Innovation requires acceptance that you might not see immediate, tangible returns. While we live in a culture (and an industry) that expects immediate results, true innovation often can’t be measured, by financial results or otherwise, in a short period of time.
  • Active leadership is essential. Innovation won’t happen unless leaders of your firm support the effort across various groups, getting those groups aligned with one another.
  • Innovation needs room to fail. Even with the right idea and great implementation, innovation can fail. If the culture of the group is brave and willing to accept failure, innovation will thrive.


Many thanks to Kevin Dell‘Oro from Springhill Consulting Group for the content and for jumpstarting the conversation.