“Caroline Hill, editor of Legal IT Insider asked me about knee-jerk reactions. I had a bit of a rant…” says Catherine Bamford of BamLegal!

It went something like this…

Caroline: “One thing I'm really interested in is how many firms are looking at their processes before jumping into automation. Seems that there is still very little strategy and a lot of knee jerking around?”

Me: “Like what you are saying on the processes before jumping into automation but my experience has been different and I think the opposite is the problem.

Whether its automation, or some other potential improvement / change to current working practices, I find that most firms:

– over-analyse

– focus too much on business cases

– put in place too many red-tape procedures

– stifle those trying new ideas with a need for 100% proof it will work

– are inherently risk adverse

– have way too many meetings about meetings about meetings

– spend too much time and money before even looking at proof of concepts / pilots where you could get real user feedback

– spend too much money on consultants to make sure they are ‘doing’ the right things

– focus too much on the PR / winning an award

– focus too much on established tech others have already tried

– essentially try to make sure that if a project fails no one gets fired / held back from promotion / blamed.

In addition, “PEP Protection” is a serious cultural problem in law firms holding true R&D and innovation back.

Those in the business charged with changing strategy, innovating, implementing new ways of working etc, need to be given budget, space, access to lawyers and clients and permission to fail. Only by coming up with lots of new ideas, trying them and failing at some, will the truly great ideas develop and will anything really happen in the timescales we all want.

Innovation and disruption in legal industry is painfully slow and there is too much back covering going on.

There are exceptions. Jonathan Patterson’s Engine 1 and Engine 2 approach at DWF Ventures is one of them. Radiant Law have created an optimum slack style led environment in which anyone can suggest an idea without fear of ridicule. It can be mooted, deftly built, tested and played with to see if it has legs. Their life-changing-for-lawyers “RemarkableX” product for Word is a fantastic example of what can result from this permission to fail culture.”

Author's Note: This is the shitty first draft. I decided it was best left unedited as I am hoping to start a conversation.