On October 3, 2023, ClearyX analysts Kaitland Goulet and Egi Troka attended the Legal Innovation Forum in Calgary, Alberta. This year’s theme focused on how leadership and collaboration are driving change and delivering value in the evolving legal ecosystem. The following are key takeaways from the panels.
Driving Alberta’s Economic Innovation: Alberta has a culture of enterprise, having one of the highest number of new businesses in Canada. Legal leaders play a significant role in driving innovation as advisors and connectors who apply a business lens to risk tolerance. Innovation is driven by highly engaged, multi-disciplinary teams that complement each other’s skills and operate in a safe environment where opinions can be freely expressed. Innovative lawyers are collaborative and optimistic for change, having empathy for people’s problems and a passion to solve problems.
Future of the Legal Ecosystem: In 2023, lawyers can take control of their practices and increase their productivity as GenAI tools are embedded in products and workflows. Companies like Simplex Legal and Goodlawyer are leveraging these tools to improve service delivery, with a focus on efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. These tools can handle repetitive and tedious work, reducing errors and distilling buried insights. Use cases include the summarization, extraction and interrogation of a full suite of documents. The best legal tech tools are being created by people who are deeply embedded in the area of practice being targeted, as they know the area, pain points and where to look for inefficiencies.
The structure of the legal industry is changing. Investors are pouring more money into legal tech as the demand is driven by clients who request responsiveness and immediate results at a cheaper price. Law firms are feeding Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) work. It is estimated that approximately 80% of ALSP’s revenue is coming from law firms, while the rest is from the Big4 and other sources. Meanwhile, law societies are using “sandboxes” to foster innovation, allowing for rule exemptions in regions like Arizona, Utah, and several Canadian provinces.
Mastering Change Management: The reality is that individuals are either inspired or forced to change. Stakeholders in the legal industry have taken an entrepreneurial approach to change management. They encourage ongoing discourse and follow market demand to understand problems and craft appropriate solutions. Law firms have found that incremental change, rather than fundamental change is a more realistic and successful approach. When faced with resistance to change, the best approach is to ask why this resistance exists to help improve the change process and obtain better adoption. Regardless of the approach taken to innovation, lawyers’ duty of competence includes technological skills.
Solving for the people puzzle: There is a disconnect between law school and legal practice due to generational and situational differences. Law students and young lawyers have different career aspirations and perspectives. Lawyers are moving to in-house opportunities much earlier in their careers than what is traditionally expected, largely due to beliefs of improved work-life balance, value alignment and flexibility with an in-house career. Millennials and GenZ employees tend to desire increased transparency and communication from leadership, as they were raised by families who included them in “grown-up” discussions. The pandemic has also transformed physical workplaces, adding another layer of complexity. Yet retention issues are often dismissed as a cost of doing business in big law firms, leading to a lack of motivation to foster a positive work culture. Ultimately, lawyers should focus on the impact they want to make, rather than chasing a dream job at a specific workplace, to have greater career satisfaction.
In conclusion, the forum highlighted that technology will not replace lawyers but will equip them to deliver better value. As the saying goes, “Technology will not take your job away, but a lawyer who is better equipped to use technology will.”
This article was prepared jointly by Egi Troka and Kaitland Goulet.