I’m often asked how LegalVision, as a business, is approaching innovation. We do things differently compared to a traditional law firm. But how do we actually operate on a day to day basis? There are five key elements in how we approach innovation:
- our legal and tech teams work together;
- we build our own tech;
- we use our law firm as a testing ground;
- we collaborate with clients; and
- we build quickly.
1. Our Legal and Tech Teams
LegalVision is a law firm with 80 team members (and counting). While most of our team members are, unsurprisingly, lawyers, we also have a team of five software engineers and three product managers. A traditional law firm of our size would likely only employ an overworked IT support office. After all, someone has to make sure the Partner’s iPhones are working!
We hired a team of software engineers because we see the development of legal-tech solutions as the future of the legal industry. This has been our vision from the outset which is why one of our co-founders, Evan Tait-Styles, is a software engineer and not a lawyer. Combining top-level software engineering expertise and in-depth legal knowledge is the bedrock of our business model.
2. Build Our Own Tech
We’re a tech business that provides legal services — not a law firm that merely licences technology developed by software businesses. We see this as crucial to long-term sustainability and success. To ensure that we deliver value to clients, it’s vital that we control the delivery of value.
Law firms previously only provided value through their lawyers, but this is changing quickly. Over the next twenty years, technology products will increasingly deliver the value generated in the legal services industry. We aim to be at the forefront of this value delivery.
3. Law Firm as a Testing Ground
A huge advantage LegalVision has over pure legal tech businesses is that we’re a law firm doing a large volume of legal work every month. We continually seek out opportunities to improve how our lawyers assist clients, which often involves building new technology.
Four years since launching, we’ve built an entire practice management system, a trademarking tool that links directly into the Trademark Australia API, a document automation platform, a client portal and a machine learning engine to assist with document review.
This would have been much harder if we didn’t have lawyers able to test our products straight away! In addition to our testing and experimentation in-house, we also pursue much of our tech development alongside our clients.
4. Client Collaboration
The standard approach to legal tech development is to consult with potential clients and then build a product that’s designed to be ‘one-size fits all’. This approach is not without benefits as it allows for rapid scaling.
We’ve chosen a different path. Our approach is to build framework technologies such as our document automation platform and machine learning engine. We then work with our clients, using design thinking to generate solutions that will solve their individual needs. No in-house legal team faces the same challenges, so we built our business to reflect this reality. Working closely with clients in project teams is critical to our success.
5. Build Quickly
Law firms are not known for rapid innovation, in fact, it’s fair to say the opposite is more likely true!
We’ve grown quickly as a business because we’ve been willing to use lean startup methodologies when developing new products. We’ll often run a design jam, work out pain points and build a prototype tech solution in less than 48 hours. Of course, the initial prototype is usually very different to the end product — but a mindset of rapid iteration means we get to a useful end point much quicker than other law firms, or indeed, legal-tech providers.
We think it’s fair to say we approach innovation differently to traditional law firms, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! How does your business approach innovation? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn.
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