Rely on the most comprehensive, up-to-date legal content designed and curated by lawyers for lawyers
Work faster and smarter to improve your drafting productivity without increasing risk
Accelerate the creation and use of high quality and trusted legal documents and forms
Streamline how you manage your legal business with proven tools and processes
Manage risk and compliance in your organisation to reduce your risk profile
Stay up to date and informed with insights from our trusted experts, news and information sources
Access the best content in the industry, effortlessly — confident that your news is trustworthy and up to date.
With over 30 practice areas, we have all bases covered. Find out how we can help
Our trusted tax intelligence solutions, highly-regarded exam training and education materials help guide and tutor Tax professionals
Regulatory, business information and analytics solutions that help professionals make better decisions
A leading provider of software platforms for professional services firms
In-depth analysis, commentary and practical information to help you protect your business
LexisNexis Blogs shed light on topics affecting the legal profession and the issues you're facing
Legal professionals trust us to help navigate change. Find out how we help ensure they exceed expectations
Lex Chat is a LexisNexis current affairs podcast sharing insights on topics for the legal profession
Printer Friendly Version
By Sally Calverley,
Everybody is looking for the “Dyson moment” – the moment when legal services are changed fundamentally by someone who looks at the problem from a new perspective, applies a different solution and hey presto! Toilets around the globe have been changed by the introduction of the Dyson hand dryer. Legal services, so the argument goes, just need a fresh approach.
Well, yes, I agree. The market is ripe for a ground-breaking change, one that radically and fundamentally changes the way that legal services are delivered. A disruptive innovation.
Process improvements, BLP and TLT’s adoption of business transformation skills, improved project management, vertical integration and multidisciplinary approaches, many of the latter driven by the new accountancy led ABS. There have been many improvements, but not anything that makes us go “wow!”
In truth, these are all refinements: as Henry Ford would have said (with apologies to his memory) these are all ways to build the proverbial faster horse. So… where is the disruptive innovation?
The answer is: probably not in a law firm. Innovation often comes from outside.
Take the iPod. Sony, realising that people wanted to take their music with them, developed the Walkman in 1979. 20 years later, the cassette had given way to CDs and everyone expected MP3 players (based on a hard drive) to take over as the means of storing and sharing music. But it wasn’t until the spread of broadband, better memory capacity and the launch of the iTunes store in 2003, that the iPod really took off – leaving the shady world of MP3 players in its wake. Apple, the computer company, had succeeded in disrupting the music business.
Or take the car. In 1898, the first Urban Planning Convention in New York asked “What will New York look like in 1998?” The biggest problem facing the global economy then was the constraints of the bi product of horse transport. The planners broke up a week earlier than expected, apparently overcome by the prospect of a city buried under mountains of horse manure and carcasses. (For a full assessment of the problem at the time see here). Just one year earlier, the Benz made its first intercity journey. 10 years later Ford launched the model T, by 1912 there were more cars than horses in New York City and 1921 saw the first motor car traffic jam.
Think Amazon and the publishing industry or for that matter solar power and the global energy industry.
There are many reasons why disruptive change often comes from outside. One is that people already involved in an industry find it difficult to accept disruptive change let alone create it. In fact, they are so wedded to resisting change that they will do so even at their peril.
The classic study for this is Karl Weick’s article in 1996 “Drop your tools: An allegory for organisational studies” in which he looked at why all but three firefighters in the Mann Gulch tragedy in Montana died within reach of safe places. In this terrible tragedy, a speed of just a few additional 6-9 inches per second would have seen them to safety. All died with their tools at their sides.
Apart from physical reasons (the noise of the fire, dehydration, carbon monoxide poisoning) there are additional, less obvious reasons:
In the Mann Gluck disaster the foreman survived, thanks to the “escape fire” he set. Unfortunately his crew either did not trust the technology – or him – sufficiently and so he was the only one who was saved by it.
To create innovation in the legal industry, rather than simply wait for others to do it for us – or to us – we have got to learn how to drop the tools. To stop looking at how to remove the piles of horse manure stacking up around us.
0330 161 1234