LMA Capital Chapter Program Review: Disruptive Innovation: Law2023

On January 29, 2016, Tasneem K. Goodman, Managing Director at Akina, led a discussion at the Capital Chapter on “Disruptive Innovation: Law2023.”

The Law2023 study sought to answer the question: What changes could the legal industry make in order to ensure its success in the year 2023? The study provided significant insight into the future of law and highlighted seven marketing and design principles that firms will need to implement to not only remain relevant but thrive over the next decade.

What are the clients saying now?

  • Quality and technical expertise: Quality and expertise are no longer selling points.
  • Client loyalty: Clients no longer feel obligated to keep relationships out of loyalty. When a firm acquires a new client, it might be at the cost of another firm losing an institutional client.
  • Know my business: Clients are looking for attorneys and law firms to know their business on an intimate level. Do you know the dynamics among the departments? Do you know what it means to do business in the client’s world? Do you understand how the client’s success is being measured within their organization?
  • The pitch: Buyers of legal services and general counsel are often frustrated with the way law firms pitch.  All of the pitches they see begin to look and sound the same because there is so much focus on the firm; our attorneys, our expertise, and our practice areas. Pitches should focus more on the client’s needs, wants, and hopes.  
  • Competitive selling: One key is for a law firm to think about how it can separate itself from its competitors, set objective criteria for how it wishes to sell, and then meet those criteria.
  • The “ask”: Lawyers might have to make multiple little asks; a meeting, lunch, client alert, phone calls, etc. before potential clients get to a place where they feel comfortable buying legal services.
  • Leaving a mark: Every time we engage a client or potential client, it leaves a mark. We need to make sure that the each interaction is meaningful.
  • Triple Bottom Line: Law firms should take a page from other industries and focus on a triple bottom line: Profit, People, and the Planet. The goal is to build firms where clients want to buy our services, people want to work for us, and leaders want to serve.

In 2013 Akina consulted futurists to determine what design principles law firms of the future would need to follow in order to be successful. This is what they determined:

  • Design Principle #1 Technologies will enable lawyers to bill for real value. What are things that you can add that are at minimal cost or no cost to the client? It’s very easy to “take the order,” but are we focused on the real value that the client is trying to accomplish?
  • Design Principle #2 Firms will develop offerings that transcend jurisdiction. This is counterintuitive to most lawyers, who focus so much on jurisdiction. Jurisdiction will become less important because companies of the future will do business in multiple jurisdictions. In the future, attorneys will have proficiencies in multiple jurisdictions in order to advise their clients properly.
  • Design Principle #3 Demand for responsive institutions will create new markets for accountability. Transparency will have an impact on law firms as well. Take Tom’s Shoes—who for every shoe a customer buys gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. What would the Tom’s Shoes of the legal industry look like? What if for every high-wealth client, a firm offered to provide similar services to someone who can’t afford legal services?
  • Design Principle #4 Firms will tap new talent and enable new pathways to practice. We will have to engage talent in a new way. Firms have to think beyond traditional job roles for attorneys. The path for new talent might be include different compensation, and the traditional “path to partner” might be a thing of the past.
  • Design Principle #5 Transparency will push firms to seek hyper-specific markets. “There was a time when the seller had more information than the buyers had,” Tasneem said. “Our clients will eventually have all types of information at their fingertips -- just like regular consumers do in other industries such as travel and the auto industry. We can no longer be all things to all people.”
  • Design Principle 6: Firms will launch R&D departments to create new offerings. If firms want to be successful in the future, they will have to innovate to meet current client demands.  
  • Design Principle 7: User research and innovation will shape client experience of legal products. What if a law firm could be like the app on our firm that knows what we want even before we want it? Those apps are designed by user-experience designers who aim to learn the client so well that they can anticipate the client’s needs. Even now clients want firms to be proactive in anticipating their needs.

By Kamaria E. Salau, Marketing Manager at Jackson & Campbell, P.C. for the January/February 2016 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter

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