How firms can help lawyers become innovation champions

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Legal training can condition lawyers to think a particular way, Anna Collyer says. That can become a hindrance to innovation.

The Allens partner and head of innovation says that a major challenge in transforming legal teams is around the shift in mindset that is required to innovate. More specifically, legal professionals must take an iterative approach to solution development, experimentation, and learning, she says.

“I don't believe that lawyers don't want to innovate and adapt to change; it is more that they have been trained to think a particular way, to spot the issues and drive quality outcomes,” she says. “The two concepts can seem at odds and therefore require a deliberate shift in mindset and approach.”

Collyer shares a step firms can take to start shifting the mindset of lawyers to be more attuned to legal innovation. At Allens, the firm started by putting in place several initiatives designed to give lawyers space to experiment and opportunities to practice innovation, she says.

“For example, we engage legal teams to participate in idea-generation sessions to solve frequent and frustrating client problems,” she says. “Our innovation squads are involved in designing MVPs to test ideas.”

Firms and their leaders can also start by picking advocates among its staff, she says.

“A good first step for firms starting out would be to identify innovation champions that can recognise opportunities for incremental improvement in legal services, act as project sponsors, and drive adoption at the coal face in practice groups,” Collyer says.

Anna Collyer

Collyer will be sharing award-winning strategies and programs for legal innovation at the upcoming Legal Tech Summit. Allens won the Excellence in Technology and Innovation award at this year’s Australasian Law Awards.

The Legal Tech Summit, which will be held at the Crown Melbourne on 29 October, features a packed schedule that includes talks on data analytics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, design thinking, and more. Register now to save your spot.

“Events like the Legal Tech Summit allow lawyers and law firm professionals to learn about how other organisations approach problem solving and how they respond to the changing needs of clients,” Collyer says. “It also gives lawyers a chance to see and hear about the wide range of technology solutions in the market and gain insights into how the tech might improve their own legal practices.”