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June 20, 2019 Insights

Innovation, Disruption and Frustration: Breaking the Vicious Cycle

By: Vince Neicho

The technological revolution began to make its mark on the legal sector some years ago; as far back as 20 or more years ago in the field of litigation. It is only of late, however, that the message has sunk in for many traditional law firms and their partners.

In my many years of working with lawyers, I have found that they will entertain change only for a few limited
reasons.

Among them are:
The court requires it;
The client requires it;
The competition is already doing it.

The digital revolution has been so rapid and far reaching that all three of the above are now compelling law firms to act; especially, those that offer litigation services. The slot machine is displaying ‘jackpot’ if you will with all three reasons now exacting change. Of course, truly forward-thinking law firms will adapt for a fourth reason: so that they can get ahead and sustain their leading position.

Innovation + Disruption often equals frustration
Innovation has won the day, and that can only be a good thing for client legal costs and those of us craving efficiency. Now, the question is not whether there will be disruption, but how disruptive the technology will be – and how lawyers will deal with the ‘frustration’ of having to change. The greater their frustration (and resistance), the more disruption they will likely experience.

Clients are frustrated too. In many ways, it has been client frustration that has driven the disruption, creating the vicious cycle in which many law firms now find themselves.

Early disrupters aren’t being spared either. Look, for example, at how predictive coding disrupted the early digital review platforms, which themselves disrupted manual hard copy review. We are beginning to see the disrupters being disrupted.

A question of perception
Today’s technology is feature-rich and awe-inspiring. Tomorrow’s technology will be even better and, given the likely pace of innovation, the position in just a few years’ time is hard to even imagine. Depending on your viewpoint, that’s either scary or exciting.

Although those naturally resistant to change will find all this frustrating, what they must not seek to do is to frustrate the disruption itself; not least, because current evidence shows that this would be futile. Rather, those that have not yet fully embraced the technological tools at their disposal or realized their worth, would be better advised to look for ways to convert what they see as threats into opportunities. That is the mindset that they need to adopt to ensure they are not completely ostracized in our new digital world.

As I previously wrote in “Actual Intelligence plays with Artificial Intelligence,” disruption does not have to be the sole premise for technological development. Human interactions with technology, leading to
innovative, new processes, can themselves disrupt whatever thinking may be current at the time.

ALSPs such as Integreon are well placed to assist and partner with legal departments and law firms to bring together that winning formula of people, process and technology. The ordering of these components in that
oft-used principle is important, and all three have an important role to play.

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