Updated: Feb 10
We’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that your corporate legal culture might not be suited for adapting to, integrating, and maximizing technology. And adding more tools won’t help.
The good news is that there is a well-worn path to shift the culture toward one of innovation: by changing from a pure, hidebound process-and-policy approach to a project approach whose purpose is continuous improvement.
But it’s not easy, cheap, or risk-free.
What’s the problem today? The authors of LexFusion’s 2021 Legal Market Year in Review argue emphatically that the “logjam” in evolving corporate legal culture comes from the very structure of organizations.
“Lack of specificity and accountability create ambiguity for consensus-driven organizations, as collective decision making will almost always default to stasis…It is sad when we can direct someone towards a fit-to-purpose tool that will make their life less arduous, but the buying mechanics turn out to be too labyrinthine and friction-laden to make good things happen.”
It’s even sadder, they say, when a customer doesn’t even need to buy a tool because they’ve already owned something workable for years, but “the lawyers themselves have no clue the tool is at the ready.” The authors discuss the “missing feature fallacy.” Basically, the false premise that everyone would start using a tool if it had just one specific feature added or a process were tweaked just so.
When complexity and perfection become the enemies of improvements and “good enough,” you’re stuck. A lack of agility costs opportunities and could metastasize into a threat. How can law firms and corporate legal departments position themselves for innovation? Shifting a culture toward innovation means de-emphasizing checklists and focusing only on the most important handful of objectives. Doing fewer things (that directly relate to goals) very well is harder than accomplishing a quantity of to-dos.
A project culture – especially following agile principles – promotes “failing fast,” solving the most urgent problems first, and saying “no” to attempting everything that’s possible. (At Cloud Court, we have a tradition of “hit it with the simple stick.” It’s a favorite expression that has saturated our everyday culture. For example, if we’re trying to do too many tasks with the same tool, or someone is trying to solve for too many variables once, invariably someone will say, “Let’s hit it with the simple stick.” Saying “no” becomes a little easier and the way forward is usually clearer.)
When “agility” and “innovation” are not just lip service but actual values in practice, they enhance an organization’s performance and competitive position. Per the authors, “Projects require lawyers to spend less time doing legal work and more time doing what is required to deliver legal work differently going forward, from learning existing tools (furthering the adoption phase of existing projects) to helping develop new tools (sponsoring and adding value to new projects).”
“Spending less time doing legal work” may strike some as a non-starter. But while projects might take away time from legal work, they are investments that can and should deliver precise returns in the near future, such as improving efficiency, reducing costs, improving agility and responsiveness to opportunities and threats, and not the least, contributing to work-life balance for attorneys.
Projects enable organizations to switch from "inching forward" to taking leaps. The time is now for firms to take advantage of LegalTech that can do intensive, stressful tasks as well as a person, but faster, and at a fraction of the cost.
If you or your litigation team have an initiative to look for ways to improve deposition performance, accelerate resolutions, or achieve better outcomes, contact us and request a custom demo.