One law firm’s hack day could birth new tech

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One law firm’s team is excited by a series of new technology ideas due to be fleshed out at a scheduled hack day today, with the expectation at least some will improve its service to clients.
After pairing back a pool of 45 internally-generated innovation ideas, Henry Davis York is holding a hack day today to work on a shortlist of five ideas selected by the firm’s new innovation committee.
One of the proposed ideas involves developing a cloud-based contract management database for clients based on software Henry Davis York is already using that incorporates basic machine learning.
Another is to build a client relationship management application that would provide an interactive communications and reporting tool for Henry Davis York clients, according to the firm.
Assisted by a Hack Days Australia facilitator, an assorted group of about 40 participants will work on the total of five ideas tomorrow in an effort to bring them from the idea stage to a reality for clients.
Henry Davis York partner and chairman of the innovation committee, Alex Mufford, says that the real value in the lead up to the hack day has been the client-centred thinking that has emerged.
“There's a real and tangible sense of excitement around the day but more importantly, a great feeling of collaboration,” Mufford says. "We've enlisted the involvement of a wide range of people from across the firm. It’s a level of cross-team collaboration you don't normally see in law firms. It's also generating some healthy competition with teams meeting ahead of the day to start planning,” Mufford says.
“What we're most excited about is how we've got a range of people from across the firm trying to put themselves in the minds of their clients.”
The firm’s legal and operational management will be involved, including the managing partner, chief information officer, head of the innovation committee, head of business development, head of knowledge and head of pricing. They will join other partners, lawyers and client development team members.
There is also a client-side representative. “We also have Richard Schutte, head of innovation, business banking, NAB, attending and sharing his valuable time and insights as part of the judging panel.”
The five ideas are to be conceptualised by teams participating in the hack day tomorrow, and the winners will then be bought to fruition by internal working groups following the hack day.
Earlier in 2016, HDY formed an innovation committee and launched its ‘Ignite’ program, an innovation framework designed to capture and harness the innovative ideas of its people.
The hack day is the latest step in the ‘Ignite’ program’s first round of innovation, helped along by the launch of a dedicated Ignite site within its HDY Connect internal communications platform.
“We're committed to holding this special day as part of our 'Ignite' innovation program because we see it as a fantastic forum to develop some of the ideas that were submitted from across the firm, to encourage a culture of collaboration and to drive client-facing creative thinking,” Mufford says.