Acritas found that, despite the profession promoting innovation in the delivery of legal services, much of this advocacy could be falling on deaf ears, if the first-hand experiences of over 2,000 senior in-house counsel are to be believed.
According to the study, 69 per cent of US corporate legal departments don’t believe they’ve seen their law firms, or legal service providers, innovate at all in the past year.
With the other three in 10 perceived to be innovating, the research infers that legal institutions are demonstrating innovation, or a lack thereof, to different degrees based on varying interpretations of what it means to innovate in the in-house sphere.
What is innovative to one client is normal practice to another, said Acritas US vice president Elizabeth Duffy.
“Our research clearly shows legal departments and their external legal service providers are at different stages of evolution,” she said.
“More basic levels of innovation can be made more impactful with new and different approaches, for example, document management systems delivered through an app or warning notifications added to contract management systems.”
Some law firms, Ms Duffy noted, would benefit from a broader understanding of the evolving legal landscape, both in terms of solutions and providers, and have a subsequent innovation plan.
However, those law firms simply “need to do a better job of communicating” about the innovative services offered to clients, she said.
“Innovation isn’t always about technology. It’s about having an entrepreneurial mindset and looking for ways to do things differently,” Ms Duffy explained.
“It demands people with that drive and a supportive culture that allows people to try things and accommodate the failure that always attends invention.”
The study also noted that as legal departments have grown, they have begun to invest in innovation at rates overtaking those of law firms.
41 per cent of US corporate legal departments have innovated internally – only slightly less than the 43 per cent average for legal departments globally.
“It is technology or knowledge providers that are leading innovation in the market currently,” Ms Duffy concluded.
“As more people look to embrace innovation in terms of investment and behavioural change we will continue to investigate approaches and practices to inform strategic thinking and measure successes."