Despite all the recent emphasis on innovation from private practice firms, LDO professionals think their law firms are no more innovative than they were a year ago.
In its 12th Annual Law Department Operations Survey, Blickstein Group – in collaboration with Morae Global – reported that despite all the money and effort being poured into innovation by law firms, LDO professionals remain “unconvinced” about the ability of said firms to break new ground.
The recently released survey found that just 32.7 per cent, or one in three, respondents said that they believe their law firms are innovative. This number, the report said, has “barely budged” from last year, despite the emphasis from firms on innovation.
Instead, corporate legal departments will remain the primary drivers of innovation, as indicated by 88 per cent of respondents, down slightly from 89 per cent last year.
Moreover, LDO professionals are prepared for such responsibility, with 63 per cent of survey respondents saying they believe their job is “primarily change management.”
According to Baker McKenzie chief services officer David Cambria, who chairs the Law Department Operations Survey Advisory Board, law firms are “not completely to blame – law departments haven’t held up their end of the deal, either”.
“Law firms are having trouble getting people to partner with them, but it has been that way for 10 years,” he said.
“Firms continue to innovate, and they are spending gobs of money to do it. But it’s not moving the needle. It’s not for lack of input, it’s for lack of output. The solution is more collaboration and defined standards. The industry needs common standards around reporting and defining value.”
Less than one in two (49 per cent) said they agree that law firms are leveraging technology to deliver legal services more effectively and cost-efficiently.
Elsewhere, the report noted that law firms are facing other challenges, including fears about the impact of the “big four” accounting firms as they move further into legal services.
“Yet the good news for law firms is that few LDO departments are using accounting firms for legal work, at least so far,” the report said.
The report also found that a majority of global law teams revealed they have implemented cost-effective methods via technology to ensure their companies can continue to operate in the wake of global financial stress and that the differences between in-house counsel and law firm teams have resulted in failed productivity and are harmful to clients, their businesses and the law profession.