Remaining agile has never been more crucial to the success of law firms. Possessing the ability to adapt not only to challenges posed by COVID-19 and the promise of a “new normal” in a post-pandemic world, but to the evolving expectations of clients is imperative. Innovation is key for law firms who want to remain agile. The world and the needs of clients change frequently – so too should the way you approach the delivery of legal services.

In recent years, innovation has been the most prolific driver of change in the legal profession, with firms competing more each day in order to remain relevant. However, many firms still do not appreciate that whether they’re doing it actively or not, they are very much competing with other firms. Which law firms come out on top? Those who innovate and embrace change. Having spent nearly 30 years empowering law firms with the tools to succeed, we’ve explored how law firms are using innovation to remain agile.

Adapting to the needs of clients

Just as the law has changed over time, so too have the needs and more importantly, the expectations of clients. COVID-19 and related restrictions have placed a magnifying glass on this issue and required many firms to suddenly re-assess their approach to client service when offices were closed and the entire operation of law firms pushed online. Firms that have succeeded through these trying times are those that have adopted an innovative approach to client service. From adopting online payment portals, allowing clients to easily review and share documents online and scheduling and holding appointments online – successful firms have remained agile by continuing to offer their clients these conveniences as we approach a post-pandemic world.

Embracing technology

Imagine if your firm refused to adopt earlier technology such as computers or the internet and instead insisted on running entirely on paper or with the aid of typewriters? This is an impossible situation to imagine and yet there are still firms operating today that believe their outdated systems and technology are adequate because “they do the job”. Remaining agile is near impossible for firms who fail to embrace technology as it changes and evolves to better accommodate modern practitioners and their clients.

Clients wouldn’t settle for any lawyer on the basis that “they’ll do the job,” so why should any firm aim for the bare minimum in the way they deliver their services? Unfortunately, this is is still a very real scenario for some firms who adopt a rigid defiance to new innovations in technology. For example, some law firms still require support staff to work in the office while fee earners work from home because of reliance on server-based practice management systems that don’t freely enable the remote operation of the firm.

Firms that value the ability to remain agile embrace innovations in technology because they see it as a tool they can use to be more efficient, minimise non-billable work, improve the service they offer their clients and importantly, remain relative in a hyper-competitive market.

Seeking feedback

As is the case with anything, seeking feedback (and acting on it) is key to continually improving. Whether you’re seeking feedback from your clients on their experience with your firm or from your staff or peers on internal systems and processes, continually evaluating and striving to improve how your firm operates is arguably the most important thing you can do to ensure your firm remains agile. Do you have a feedback process in place that follows the conclusion of a matter? Do you seek feedback from your peers on existing systems or ways of doing things? These feedback processes do not need to be complicated or time consuming, but seeking feedback in order to innovate can result in a whole host of benefits for your firm and for your clients.

Working as a team

Does your firm have a culture of innovation? That is, are all members of staff encouraged to share ways that processes could be improved? Unfortunately, many firms still adopt the approach of “this is how we’ve always done X” or “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” It is this mindset that stifles innovation and in the long term, limits a firm’s ability to grow and effectively compete. Firms that adopt a growth mindset towards innovation by taking ownership for areas they can improve in are far more likely to implement positive change. While a process or system doesn’t need to be necessarily ineffective to be changed or improved, if there is an opportunity to make it even marginally better, why shouldn’t you? Particularly in today’s hyper-competitive market, doing things that provide your clients with slightly more convenience or value can go a long way to securing the likes of referrals and positive word of mouth.

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