Kleos - law firm innovation
Legal13 June, 2018

Law firm innovation needs to be pragmatic, study finds

With so much written about legal technology and innovation, including all the hype of artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and the like, law firms can feel lost in a sea of infinite possibilities without a clear captain at the helm. In fact, despite all the innovation talk, only a third of law firms have tasked someone specifically with the job of innovation.

This is among some interesting findings from Aderant’s 2018 Business of Law and Technology survey of 138 business and legal professionals at law firms around the world.

Not surprisingly, larger law firms with potentially more resources are leading the way with innovations. While roughly 30% of firms have a dedicated person for innovation, large firms of 500+ lawyers were more than 2 times as likely to have someone dedicated to the task of innovation, compared to any other category of smaller firms.


Whether innovation is a shared responsibility or assigned in a single role, this increased focus on innovation has the goal of helping law firms meet a variety of challenges.

From pricing pressure and cybersecurity to increasing operational efficiency and boosting competitiveness, law firms are looking to technology to address their top challenges.

But just because your firm isn’t prepared to hire a “Head of Innovation”, that doesn’t mean that you can’t afford to innovate. It just means there is more emphasis on pragmatism; firms need to learn to “crawl before they can walk” so to speak.

Addressing your challenges with technology

When choosing innovating technology, it’s important to start with solutions that offer the most impact. In this respect, the same Aderant survey asked firms to rate technologies according to their impact. The top 5 technologies that firms feel have had a moderate to high impact are:

  • Document management, 90%.
  • Time and billing management, 88%.
  • Financial management or ERP, 73%.
  • Mobility and mobile apps, 70%.
  • Business intelligence, 70%.

These results suggest that it’s not the newest innovations, but rather tried and tested technologies that are helping law firms meet the challenges they face.

When it comes to the specific challenge of improving operational efficiencies, law firms clearly look to technologies that help standardise processes and save time. Automating routine tasks, workflow automation and analytics all work to take the manual, human element out of time-consuming processes.

Interestingly enough, only 16.1% identified AI or Machine Learning, and 7.3% identified Predictive Analytics as having great potential to drive efficiency.

Choosing the right technology for your firm

With more pressure “to do more with less”, law firms need to equip themselves with technology that will give them the “quick win” efficiencies they seek short term, but also that will support them in their quest to grow a successful firm into the future.

The digital landscape of law is ever-changing and unpredictable but by using the right technology, law firms can stay in control, minimise risk and, and most importantly seize every opportunity for growth. Find out how, by downloading our whitepaper, Building a future-proof law firm with legal tech.