Law Firms Must Step Up Innovation to Stay Ahead Says ALPMA

7 June 2016

Law firms are operating in unprecedented times and they need to step it up if they are to stay ahead according to the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA).

“There is a fundamental shift underway in how legal services are being purchased and delivered. Lawyers dislike the term, but core legal services are perceived as being more and more commoditised,” ALPMA President and CFO at the Lantern Legal Group, Andrew Barnes said when launching the 2016 ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards.

“Innovation means different things to different people. We are seeing firms consistently demonstrate the strategic thinking, vision and commitment to drive new ways of doing things. Genuine innovators are not only seeking greater efficiencies and effectiveness for their firms, but are also leading their profession into an unchartered waters, “ he said.

Joanne Beckett, Managing Director Australia at LexisNexis agrees and believes that technology is a key enabler in creating greater value for clients.

“Firms adopting a strategic commitment to innovation and exploring paths less travelled will be in a better position to keep up with the rapidly changing legal landscape,” she said.

“This is applicable to NewLaw firms and established firms alike. It would be a mistake for firms to stand still and do things the way they have always been done.”

Some of the commercial benefits from innovation includes increased productivity, staff engagement and improved client relationships that has a substantial effect on cost and time savings.”

Firms can draw inspiration from firms like LegalVision, Hive Legal and Anderssen Lawyers, past winners of the ALPMA Thought Leadership Awards, who are thriving in a challenging market.

“Since winning the award last year, LegalVision has continued to grow at a phenomenal rate, hiring more staff and assisting more Australian businesses than ever with our tech model,” Lachlan McKnight, CEO LegalVision said.

“We successfully closed a capital raise last year with top-tier firm Gilbert + Tobin leading the round and launched Prism, our cloud solution offering legal project management, document automation and trade mark monitoring for our clients.”

McKnight agrees that law firms need to find new ways to innovate and integrate technology into their service delivery work practices.

“There are plenty of opportunities to engage with clients online, whether it be for convenience or to reach out to geographical areas previously underserved.”

“Access to resources, such as the free legal documents we offer on our website, can be invaluable for businesses looking to get off the ground. Law firms should not underestimate the importance of offering free legal information and free resources in assisting their clients,” he said.

Start-up virtual law firm Hive Legal took out the top gong in 2014, with its innovative offerings including value pricing tied to performance and savvy IT systems that facilitate remote collaborative working to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

“Innovation is not about improving the way things are done, but changing it. It’s not about thinking outside the box, it's about asking if the box the right shape in the first place,” said Jodie Baker, Managing Director at Hive Legal.

“Winning the award was a fantastic validation of what we were doing not only for our lawyers who took a risk in leaving their jobs for such a new business model but also for our clients and potential clients to see that they are backing is highly valued.”

2016 ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards

Australia’s leading legal innovators are encouraged to enter the 2016 ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards and showcase their efforts to re-define the way law firms and legal departments operate.

The Awards, now in their fourth year, shine a light on innovative projects and new initiatives being conducted by firms across the legal sector in response to the changing legal landscape and provide recognition for firms and legal departments who have successfully implemented innovative projects and strategic initiatives that in response to the many and varied challenges facing the Australasian legal industry.

Entries close on 11 July and the winner will be announced on Thursday 8 September 2016 at the 2016 ALPMA Summit Gala Dinner at the Medallion Club, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne.

To enter, the project or initiative must meet the following criteria:

  • Implemented in the last year
  • Demonstrate leadership or innovation in response to the changing legal landscape
  • Demonstrate real benefits (in terms of time or cost savings, productivity gains, quality) and show a positive impact for staff, employees and/or partners/ owners as a result of the project
  • Undertaken at an ALPMA member's law firm or legal department.

The judging panel comprises Shelley Dunstone, Principal, Legal Circles and ALPMA Life Member; Dr Peter Lynch, Principal, dciLycon; Shirley Hamel, Director of Operations, Cornwall Stodart; Whit Lee, Executive Director of Strategy & Customer Research, LexisNexis Asia Pacific and Simon Wilkins, Executive Director –Sales Strategy & New Lexis

2016 ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards winners are now awarded.

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