On Friday I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Legal Innovators event in London, organised by Richard Tromans of Artificial Lawyer. Pitched as an event for everyone who wants to learn, share and network around legal innovation it didn't disappoint.

Highlights from a couple of panel sessions I attended are below.

Scaling Up Real Change Inside the Firm

Shaz Aziz (Director, Client Solutions & Engagement, Neota Logic), Laura Bygrave (Innovation Lead, Deloitte Legal), Ellen Catherall (Associate, Innovation and Legal Technology, Addleshaw Goddard), Nick West (Chief Strategy Officer, Mishcon de Reya LLP), Isabel Parker (Chief Legal Innovation Officer, Freshfields), Bas Boris Visser (Global Head of Innovation and Business Change, Clifford Chance)

Shaz lead an engaging panel with endless tips on how successfully create change across large organisations, including lessons learnt from past experience.

On where to start:

  • "Find the shepherds" and others will follow. They may not be the most senior or obvious at first glance. - Laura
  • "Start with why". People will want to know what's in it for them. – Nick
  • "Don’t waste your time with the detractors". If people are not going to get it, leave them to it. – Isabel
  • "Projects that have worked best are the ones that clients have been central to". The best tools come out of collaborative effort. – Ellen
  • "You get what you measure". Know what makes lawyers tick and align KPIs accordingly. Don't just measure hourly billing. You need to measure something that will make lawyers proud. – Bas Boris Visser

On practical tips:

  • "Repetition". It is boring but essential. Never under estimate how important it is to repeat your message. – Isabel
  • Consider seconding practice area lawyers into your tech and innovation areas. They will become you biggest ambassadors. - Ellen
  • "If you want to do things differently then you need different expertise and infrastructure." Acknowledge you might not have the right expertise within. You might need to hire new roles with different skills. – Bas Boris Visser

On getting stuff done:

  • "Seek forgiveness, not permission." - Laura
  • "Be less English and more direct." – Bas Boris Visser
  • "Be candid about what’s good and what’s not. Be open about the challenges." - Ellen

All panelists agreed that clients are pushing extremely hard for law firms to provide evidence they are capable of change and doing things differently. Law firms need to walk the walk. A client- centric approach to value is the key.

Legal Ops - What Do Clients Really Want That Legal Tech Can Solve? 


Nicholas d'Adhemar (CEO, Apperio), Kenneth Ko (Associate Director, Eigen Technologies) Sean Thomas (Group General Counsel, AlphaSight), Rosemary Martin (Group General Counsel & Company Secretary, Vodafone), Sam Moore (Innovation Manager, Burness Paull LLP), Rachel Roberts (Head of Business Solutions, Burges Salmon LLP)

Nicholas chaired this lively panel which was particularly interesting for me as the voice of the GC really rang through. Some practical tips for vendors who are trying to get close to their target market (in house or law firms):

  • The key thing for service providers to understand is that GC needs to clearly articulate their paint point. What is the real issue that the in house team is trying to fix? Service providers need to truly understand it.
  • Questions that GCs will need answering from the get go include: How secure and safe is the solution? How long will it be around for? Will it sync with existing technology and across other teams? GCs don't want to get three or four conversations down the line and then find out the solution doesn’t fit from a risk perspective.
  • If the solution does not just impacting legal spend then it is really driving change and will get more buy in from the wider business. So can you evidence that your solution will have wider business benefits and how can you measure this?
  • Starting with the problem is the most important thing. Sometimes this means selling a solution can be a case of right place, right time. The problem needs to be there at that time otherwise your solution might stay forever in the 'might be useful someday' pile.
  • GCs are overwhelmed by solutions on the market and often it's hard to see what differentiates them, or why that point of differentiation matters. Vendors who can help GCs cut through the noise and take a more consultative, relationship approach will likely have more long term gains.