Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

Innovation : Moving Towards a Business Orientation

After seeing the client facing products that were presented at ILTA by Littler Mendelson and White & Case, I couldn’t help think about how often the innovation process is successful in law firms (see David Hobbie’s post on his Caseline blog for more info).  It clearly was in use in these two law firms.  Besides Littler and White & Case, the innovative delivery of case law updates to clients by K&L Gates was recently written about in the recent CIO article “The Role of IT in Innovation: Friend or Foe”.   Are these exceptions or evidence that law firms are acting on the belief that they can no longer do business as usual. 

If you believe what you read, innovation is becoming a hot topic in both law firms and corporate legal departments.  In a recent post on Strategic Legal Technology, Ron Friedman noted the stories of innovations in corporate legal departments as told by InsideCounsel in their 2007’s Most Innovative Law departments.  This last July must have been the month for innovation in law.  Bruce McEwen reported on the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Survey (July 3, 2007 issue) in his blog, Adam Smith Esq and the College of Law Practice Management announced its four winners of the Innovaction Awards 2007

Who are the innovators in 2007?

FT’s Innovative Lawyers 2007

Top Five

  • Allen & Overy
  • Clifford Chance
  • Linklaters
  • Eversheds
  • Wragge & Co. 

U.S. Firms mentioned with categories where some placed in the rankings

  • DLA Piper (IT Management; Corporate Social Responsibility)
  • Latham (Most Innovative US Law Firm in Europe, Legal Expertise; Human Resources)
  • Baker & McKenzie (IT Management; Billing & Fees; Client Service)
  • White & Case
  • Dechert
  • Skadden (Legal Expertise)
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Jones Day (Legal Expertise)

2007 Innovaction Award

  • DLA Piper US LLP
  • Holland & Hart LLC
  • Mallesons Stephen Jacques
  • Raskin Peter Rubin & Simon LLP

 CIO 100 Award

  • K&L Gates
  • Bryan Cave
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Goodwin Procter
  • King & Spaulding

2007 Most Innovative Law Departments

  • IBM
  • Verizon
  • Microsoft
  • American Express
  • Travelocity 

While some of the awards listed here are non-IT, the bulk of the innovation happening in law firms today appears to involve IT.    We’ve long talked about leveraging the dollars spent on IT.  Perhaps the promise of IT in law firms is finally being realized.

What does all this mean to law firm librarians?   James P. Andrews summarized it in the CIO article, The Secrets of IT Innovation, as he described why IT is important to innovation.

Information is the jet fuel of innovation, and IT is about providing information and making sure it’s in the hands of the people who need it. It is extremely difficult to do innovation well with bad information or no information, so IT is critically important.

While he is talking about IT, he describes what we do for a living.  That tells me that we have a place at the innovation table in law firms.  I can think of a number of law firm librarians who are already taking on this challenge and more who are capable of doing the same. 

What does this mean for law firms and legal departments?  When law firm and legal department leaders are looking to innovate, it would be prudent to involve not just IT but also the other half of the information equation.

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