This is a fascinating piece from Justin D'Agostino, head of disputes at Herbert Smith Freehills, arguing that law firms are in fact good at innovating.
I disagree with much of what he says, but applaud him for speaking out against the prevailing criticism of law firms.
For me, two questions emerge from this...
First, how should firms define what's innovative vs. what is natural evolution and progression? Justin cites the enormous amount of change that the legal sector's witnessed over the last decade. One would hope that business moves on in 10 years as a matter of course, but that doesn't mean any innovation's happened.
Second, against whom should a law firm benchmark their innovation? Their peers? Other law firms? Other industries? Client demands? Much of what the larger international firms are doing in 2015 other, smaller firms were doing in 2005.
And just think what Apple changed between 2005 - 2015. Now that's innovative...
It’s not true that the legal industry is behind the times – in fact, innovation has always been a big part of what makes law such a satisfying profession. Our profession abounds with popular – if often misleading – narratives. One is that the legal industry is slow to change. I disagree: the pace of change in the past decade has been tremendous. Whether lawyers and firms can keep with the pace is a different matter: that is what will distinguish the winners from the losers in the next 10 years.