Disconnect between what law firms think and what they do

Disconnect between what law firms think and what
they do

2016 ALPMA/InfoTrack Adapting
to the Changing Legal Landscape

8 September

The majority of Australasian law firms rate
themselves as innovative but there is little evidence to
support this claim, according to the results of the 2016
ALPMA/InfoTrack Adapting to the Changing Legal
report released at the 2016 ALPMA
Summit in Melbourne today.

Surveying 163 law firms across
Australia and New Zealand, 65 percent of survey respondents,
across small, medium and large firms believe their firm is
innovative or very innovative, with only 6 per cent
indicating they were not at all innovative.

“There is a
real discrepancy between how innovative firms believe they
are and what they are actually doing in terms of their
investment in innovation and in people, process and
technology initiatives to drive their firm forward,” ALPMA
President, Mr Andrew Barnes said.

More than 60 percent of
respondents said innovation was part of their strategic
plan, yet few have a dedicated innovation budget, have a
proactive group responsible or give staff time scheduled for

The research also highlights significant
inconsistency with satisfaction on firm innovation
investment levels. While nearly half of the survey
respondents believe their firm dedicates sufficient time,
people and funds to innovation, one third of respondents are
unhappy with the level of innovation investment at their

“There is pressure on partners and practice
managers to pursue innovation. They can see the rewards for
innovative projects but ‘innovation’ is becoming an
over-used word to describe everything from culture and
processes to client delivery.”

“The question we need
to really ask ourselves is ‘are we innovating or merely
adapting to changes thrust upon us?’” he

Launching the research report at the ALPMA Summit
today, InfoTrack CEO Mr John Ahern said customer demand for
better value, rapidly evolving technology, increased
competition and the staff demand for work/life balance were
the key external factors impacting on Australian and New
Zealand law firms.

“Interestingly, most respondents were
critical of the legal profession’s response to these
external drivers, saying the industry was adapting to the
changing legal landscape only when necessary and certainly
not quickly enough – and this backed-up by other
findings,” he said.

Only half (54%) of the respondents
believe their firm has an effective blueprint for change.

“The demand for better work/life balance has been
addressed by the industry with our research showing that
remote and flexible working arrangements and the technology
to support this has now been implemented at most firms.”

“Firms that do not offer this for their staff are now
lagging well behind the norm,” he said.

Most firms are
currently working on implementing workflow automation,
electronic settlement, customer relationship management
systems and improving their approach to performance

“The really innovative firms have already
implemented these initiatives and are starting work on
things that most firms report are not even in their
foreseeable future – artificial intelligence, customer
apps, Lean Six Sigma process improvements and legal process
outsourcing,” he said.


“To become truly innovative requires
an overhaul of cultural DNA of most firms. This is not easy
and not for everyone so advance with caution,” ALPMA
President, Mr Andrew Barnes said.

The report found that
most firms (78%) were satisfied with their culture. Despite
this, 57% are planning cultural change this year (rising to
87% of very large firms).

“Improved productivity,
efficiency and profitability are the primary objectives of
these cultural change programs,” he said.

Few were
planning cultural change to support diversity, personal
initiative or entrepreneurship.

The full report is
available from ALPMA and InfoTrack’s

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