"'Radical' innovation has the potential to redesign the way we work as lawyers, act as loyal advisors for our clients and connect to them in order to develop solutions to their business challenges. The concept of ‘Innovation’ in law firms means different things to different people, and I believe that over time it has gradually become overused and its meaning has been diluted and distorted. We should replace it with the term 'Change,'" recommends DLA Piper co-CEO Adv. Simon Levine.
Levine, who was recently in Israel for meetings with the firm's clients in the country, also held a closed meeting with senior partners in Israel's largest law firms in which he spoke about innovation and technology in law firms.
The firm that Levine heads employs over 4,500 lawyers in more than 90 offices spread across some 50 countries, and it has been operating in Israel since 2009, with Adv. Jeremy Lustman heading the Israel Country Group. Such a legal giant, and law firms in general, explained Adv. Levine to the lawyers that he met, must harness technology for their benefit. "I think it's helpful to distinguish between continuous improvement, for which the typical drivers are cost and efficiency, and more radical, game-changing innovation that has the potential to reshape the way we operate and be trusted advisors to our clients, partnering with them to develop solutions to their business challenges. The latter fundamentally requires a change of mind-set and approach as opposed to simple use of technology.
Adv. Levine's tips stem from the upheaval that the world's law firm market is undergoing. Many lawyers understand that the future is already here and one of the most significant changes that is taking place today is the entry of advanced technology into the firms by replacing the lawyers themselves in some of their jobs. Consumption of artificial intelligence legal products via the Internet and legal advice on demand from 'robots' trained to answer specific questions - all of these are being introduced worldwide. Firms around the globe that have taken on board that the world is changing are cooperating and participating in this industry, while in Israel the industry is still in its infancy.
Adv. Levine told the lawyers in Israel how DLA Piper is making use of innovation and applying changes in law offices. " On the business process side of innovation, we have a whole suite of solutions designed to improve quality, consistency and efficiency of our delivery of legal services. These range from legal project management teams and delivery centres to tools and technologies including collaboration platforms, deal management platforms and machine learning tools.”
" Beyond that, we have recently launched a new ’Radical Change’ programme that involves us applying design thinking principles to developing solutions, which has the potential to be transformational for our clients. Through this, we dispute our basic assumptions and produce tools and services that precisely identify most of the needs and preferences of clients. In other words, instead of our clients adapting themselves to the services that we offer, we want to design services, while focusing on what clients really want: outcomes."
According to Adv. Levine, all this requires from the firm is "an acute change in outlook." One of the steps in this direction of 'radical change’ led the firm in London to implement an upheaval - all the personal offices in the firm were dismantled and at the moment everybody sits in a large, open co-working shared space. Couches are spread throughout the workspace in a way that encourages everybody to work together. "We want people to sit on the couch, drink coffee and communicate with each other. Since the change our productivity in London increased by 10% and that's substantial for profitability," said Adv. Levine.
According to Adv. Levine, technology also helps today in pure legal work. In order to install the change and to apply it, the firm recently held a three-day workshop in cooperation with its clients, as part of a program which was formed for the purpose of changing the nature of legal work with clients. "We set for ourselves a target of identifying problems in procedures prior to the signing of complicated contracts and proposed solutions," said Adv. Levine. "The feedback that we received from the clients was amazing and brought about the forming of a 21-point plan of action to change the method of legal work with them."
Do you use big data or artificial intelligence technologies?
We do and in a number of different ways. A good example of how we use Big Data for instance is our collaboration with Imperial College Business School in London on what we call ‘Data Sparks’ project. Alongside Imperial, we have been studying the wealth of in-house data we have on transactions to understand the impact of deal characteristics and combinations on outcomes. That kind of information is incredibly useful for clients and can help them to shape real-world business decisions.”
"Another example is how we use tools like Kira, which through machine learning, radically improves accuracy in due diligence and can churn through documents many thousands of times faster than any lawyer looking to do the work manually could ever hope to.”
Will robots take the place of lawyers?
”The legal industry is transforming at an astonishing rate, and we are embracing technologies and new ways of working that enable us to deliver advice to our clients more quickly and at a lower cost. Advances in technology will continue to shape law firms and, as a result, we expect a new type of lawyer to emerge who is less encumbered by routine tasks and therefore more able to help act as a problem solver, business partner and accelerator for our clients.”
In conclusion, Adv. Levine said, "Only with radical change, and not adaptation or imitation, will a firm remain relevant."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 13, 2019
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