Making innovation everyone's business with Allister SpencerInnovation has as many definitions as the number of people you ask to define it. Regardless of what you think of as "innovative," the execution needs to permeate the business. Abhijat Saraswat speaks with Allister Spencer on how to make inno
Publish Date: Nov 22, 2020
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Making innovation everyone's business with Allister SpencerInnovation has as many definitions as the number of people you ask to define it. Regardless of what you think of as "innovative," the execution needs to permeate the business. Abhijat Saraswat speaks with Allister Spencer on how to make innovation everyone's business. In this episode, we’ll go over:
Review the state of the union
earlier this year firms put their hand brakes on; some thrived, some fell apart. What drove this?
What were the differences between segments (law firm sizes, law firms vs. in-house legal, etc.)?
General hygiene across the profession
How firms can improve their operational excellence so they can
make clients stickier
get more clients
How do we establish a baseline
How Alt-V approaches the above
legal meth lab
Taylor Wessing workshop
Quotes have been extracted from the live conversation and have been edited for grammar and minor corrections. What follows is a commentary based on the discussion from the episode. HandbrakeEarlier this year, the handbrake was pulled hard, and we saw a massive slow down across both legal and in-house counsel: Interestingly though the in-house counsel have certainly managed to achieve a little more gains in that space during the 2020 pandemic. But we have noticed that the thawing out of law firms, particularly in APAC… ramping back up. We're also seeing markets across EMEA rapidly getting back to normal. And I think that, given the number of months that have passed, just keeping the lights on for the first few months was absolutely critical. Businesses now realize that the programs that they had put on hold have to come back online, and things need to restart - the work must march on. Factors affecting the adaptability Smaller firms with multi-jurisdictional teams fared better because they were better geared up to working remotely, as, in effect, many were already had a remote workforce. Many of the mid-tied single office firms, or those with a dated view that ‘bums on seats equals productivity,’ struggled to adjust quickly. Some of the bigger firms that are spread jurisdictionally also had issues. Several factors contributed to this, and one of those was the rapid lateral hiring approach. This resulted in the firms having disparate systems, and when you bring everything back together, those systems sometimes don’t talk to each other. How did the law firms compare to in-house legal? Allister: I always equate a law firm with the profit center and in-house as the cost center. So, they're two very different, strategic alignments as to what makes money and what costs money. And in-house generally run on the smell of an oily rag. Whereas, law firms are very profitable. But, what we found is that given the opportunity they had, they [in-house] cracked on and because they had the structure and governance from the top they were less disrupted. Ab: That's important and one of my thesis is that the in-house teams, because they are a cost center, naturally work to streamline their processes and systems first, rather than just throw people at the problem as often happens within a law firm. And therefore you do reap the rewards when the resources for everybody else become tighter. It then becomes a more equal playing field. What are the next priorities? There’s a big push for ERP systems (document management, practice management, Exchange, and other basic systems that firms rely on so heavily) - some firms that have fallen behind are now rapidly coming back on board. However, it’s a cautionary tale: They’re big-ticket items - they're very expensive processes and implementations. That more firms have to understand that this is a 10-year project, and if you do it incorrectly, it's a 10-year mistake that is very hard to wind back if it's done incorrectly. The most common foible is taking an assumption-based implementation approach. Each firm has specific requirements, and without teasing those requirements out effectively, you're not going to get them the system they want. The business of law Ab: if you look at the law firm as a business, and you're focused on becoming operationally excellent - you're really only trying to achieve only two things:(1) How