There were some amazing talks on blockchain, cybersecurity and the value of technology in the legal industry yesterday as Clifford Chance Applied Solutions attended the Future of Legal Technology Forum in London. Here are some of the main takeaways from the Business Transformation and Innovation panel.

Innovation: A hot topic!

From left to right : Aileen Johnson (Head of Knowledge Systems at Ashurst), Angelique de Lafontaine (Head of Legal UK at BUPA), Nathalie Bowen (Senior Lawyer Legal Change and Delivery at Lloyds Banking), Helena Heaton (Lawyer Legal Change and Delivery at Lloyds Banking) and David Gordon (Founding Partner at DG Law).

Today, innovation is part of the way we work, and for the last two years it seems to be all lawyers hear about it. It is about revolutionizing the way we work and think as an individual, team and firm. With all the solutions currently available on the market it can get confusing to know how to begin, so where do you start? 

The journey around innovation and technology is very different for everyone and depends on stakeholders and other variables such as internal processes. A key to starting this journey with technology is mapping ideas and putting everything on paper, explains Angelique de Lafontaine from BUPA. There is a lot of value at the start to explore the ideas and challenges. The goal should be to maximize efficiency within the legal team and process, which will free up lawyers time to focus on high-value tasks. Innovation doesn't have to be futuristic or "stratospheric", it is all about convenience and accessibility.

The quick wins are really important to avoid change fatigue from people involve in the project.

Challenges to be challenged.

The cost and learning aspect of implementing new technology will be the main challenge a firm will face, and has frequently made a project team pull the plug. Below are other aspect to be considered. 

  • Lawyers are not always champions of change. They are not built to fail, and technology can be an abstract perspective with uncertainty. Providing confidence, personalised support and proof of concept with lawyers is key to the introduction of new technology.
  • Time is a critical factor in all legal roles, setting up a meeting to get together and map legal tech needs can be challenging. The mentality of many lawyers is built with a "traditional" way to work, which will also require time to change.
  • Change fatigue. Beware of too much change. Choosing the right time for implementation and transformation projects is key to have as much participation as necessary. Helen Heaton from Lloyds Banking summed it up perfectly "there is no value in innovation for the sake of innovation".
  • If you are a technology provider, your client must trust your culture. Security and implementation are key challenges you will face. 

Having influential people engaged will help overcome some of these challenges, even more so in larger companies.

4 transformation tips

1. Choose a new legal technology project which will correlate with at least two of those points: reduce risk, increase efficiency and enhance the reputation.

2. Change the mindset. Some people are resisting to change tools and methodologies. Understanding why the person is resisting is a good starting point. It can be because the person really likes the tool already in place. In this case, an answer could be "What if we can do the same than your tool, only better" Nathalie Bowen. A second reason could be that the person is simply not averse to change. In response to people who are not adhering to projects, getting them included in the discussion and hear his/her ideas would help have there support.

3. Use Agile technology and thus, the collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. As a result, the technology will be fluid, intuitive and flexible, and provide a seamless service to users.

4. Keep track of new technology. Using a dashboard to store the information and progress, and the procurement team knowledge (e.g. tech language).