It's a year since I became Head of Innovation & Legal Technology at AG. Over such a short period of time, its remarkable to have witnessed the continued seismic transformation of legal services – the way we engage with clients, the way we deliver pitches, developing and re-engineering the way we work, the creation of new roles (like mine!) and the skills needed in order to deliver client work continues to develop and change.
Since I started my role, I've had time to reflect and wanted to share some of my observations and what better place to start than with how the changes in the legal market have become a key driver in how firms pitch to their clients.
Every panel review and proposal request we receive from our clients looks to a large degree at the strength of the firm’s service delivery model; which includes how it resources its matters, how a firm will work with their client to build the relationship and how it is innovating - both by process re-engineering and the use of technology.
In many respects, top-level legal expertise is a given; a premium law firm like AG naturally has the sharpest of legal skills but firms need to showcase the component parts of their delivery model too. We've done this through the creation of our Intelligent Delivery offering.
That’s not to say that the role of our lawyers in a pitch has diminished. I've seen first-hand that when lawyers bridge the gap between legal expertise and technology then pitches become significantly more compelling. We (in the Innovation and Legal Technology team) regularly contribute to client pitches with great success and I’ve noticed when our lawyers spend time with us to understand the technology that we have as a firm and how it can be leveraged, it can be notably more convincing to clients.
Back in the summer of 2015, we were working on a pitch to a client where at the last minute we brought in a key technology component to the pitch process. We were successful and it led to us utilising technology more widely in the pitch process as a way to demonstrate to our clients how we could deliver the work proposed. One significant example of this was when we were appointed to National Grid's legal panel. This was a pivotal panel appointment as National Grid was a client that the firm had wanted to work with for some time, particularly as the energy sector is such a key focus for us. At that pitch myself and the partners talked about our offering and how we combine the use of people, process and technology to deliver our legal services.
We now look to use this expertise in more imaginative ways in pitches - running live demos or handing out iPads for clients to use and experience the offering themselves. We know that we have won some significant mandates because of our compelling technology offering. The combination of our high quality legal professionals along with our continued investment in innovation and technology has had a great impact on the way we win work.
I'm proud to say that my team has grown to ten people over the last year including 3 associates from the different divisions across the firm being seconded into the team, full time for 6 months. Setting up this team required a major financial commitment from the firm which illustrates how seriously we take the need to innovate within our firm. My team continues to develop this area and we of course don't have all the answers!
Having said that, one thing we will continue, is encouraging our lawyers to spend time with us. This gives them the ability to further understand the technology and service delivery platforms that we have, allows them to gain first-hand experience and provides them with the ability to offer a rounded package to our clients. Lawyers that are able to talk to and demonstrate how technology works, really makes the full service offering more apparent.
At the moment my department is not short of ideas - we have requests from across the firm but I am convinced there are many more ideas out there across the business. My team will be driving innovation and getting the most out of our technology platforms over the coming years, but we will be absolutely dependent on the contribution and participation of other colleagues in this process. We feel our existing and future clients will benefit hugely from this kind of collaboration and we are far more likely to win business and maintain it.