Phase 1, Version 1.0 – Methodology Below
Identify concrete examples of law firms offering products, legal services, or consulting services that constitute innovations in legal-service delivery or foster legal-service delivery innovations.
This Catalog captures legal-service delivery innovations. It does not contain any substantive legal innovations (e.g., the “poison pill”). Only innovations that have been implemented are included. For example, law firms working with legal startups are identified only if they have moved beyond testing to offering a product to clients. Likewise, we do not attempt to identify every eDiscovery and due diligence service, since most firms offer these, although we have included some that include innovative or multidisciplinary offerings. When faced with close calls, we have generally erred on the side of inclusion.
Additions to the Catalog
As discussed in the introduction, I’m launching this as a minimum viable product so that I can get input and continue to iterate to improve the index. Therefore, I’m requesting that readers submit proposed additions to the catalog using the form at the bottom of this page.
We started by reviewing partial lists of law firm legal-service delivery innovations, including lists in the sources identified below. While these lists are quite helpful, none, to my knowledge, attempt to be comprehensive.
At this time, we have included only innovations that law firms have implemented. That means that we are not attempting at this time, for example, to identify law firms that have partnered with legal technology companies to explore solutions.
When we first began, we aimed to catalog expert systems and innovation entities. An expert system is often described as a “TurboTax for law” product. Most expert systems are client facing, but there are many opportunities to create expert systems for internal use, including to guide lawyers through workflows. While looking for expert systems, we began to identify other attempts to “productize” legal services, which we included.
To identify “innovation entities,” we began by identifying law firm subsidiaries as well as branded units within law firms focused on legal-service delivery innovation. We generally have not included entities formed primarily for the purpose of outsourcing (“off shoring” or “near sourcing”) labor, particularly if the entity is not contributing to innovation efforts.
As we assembled the catalog, we created the following categories to organize the entries.
Type of Innovation
- Product – Product designed to solve a legal problem, such as an expert system.
- Service – Legal services delivered in an innovative way.
- Consulting – Consulting provided to help lawyers innovate and improve legal-service delivery.
Tool / Discipline (Beta – under further development)
The purpose of this category is to try to identify the tool or discipline driving the innovation. Of course in most cases it is more than one discipline, as successful innovation is driven by a people, process, technology approach. Nevertheless, most innovations have a key tool or discipline at their core. This is a “beta” category under further development. We are still refining the categories and working to improve internal consistency.
- Alternative Fees – Primarily based upon an alternative fee agreement (i.e., not billable hours; e.g. fixed fees, value-based billing, fixed fees for a portfolio of work).
- Artificial Intelligence – Machine learning (including Technology Assisted Document Review) and other forms of data-driven artificial intelligence, but not including rules-based expert systems.
- Client Education – Innovative methods for providing client education, including eLearning.
- Connectivity – Facilitates communication and collaboration between law firms and clients, such as extranets, deal rooms, data rooms, etc.
- Contract Management – A product or service that clients use to draft, negotiate, enter into, assess, or store contracts.
- Data Analytics – Uses data–small or “Big Data”–to improve legal-service delivery, including quantitative prediction.
- Document Assembly – A tool that captures basic input for the assembly of documents. Also known as document automation.
- Expert System – A rules-based product that organizes expert knowledge and provides direction to users who input information in response to guided interview. (Expert systems, while a form of artificial intelligence, have been assigned to their own category.)
- Incubator – Entity working with and fostering the growth of legal startups.
- Information Management – A product that clients use to manage information, documents, etc.
- Innovation Entity – A law firm subsidiary, affiliate, or branded group within the law firm focused on legal-service delivery innovation generally.
- Knowledge Management – A product or service that provides and manages knowledge, updates, etc. about a specific area of law.
- Process Improvement – Founded upon the application of a process improvement discipline, such as lean thinking, six sigma, lean six sigma, or design thinking. (A systematic examination of the current state and various process improvement methods are key components of most innovations. An entry is listed in this category only if process improvement is attributed to be the foundation for the innovation.)
- Marketplace – A place to find lawyers.
- People – Based upon allocating work to the right people, outsourcing, etc.
- Project Management – Based upon project management principles.
- Services – Innovative legal service that does not fit into another category.
Area of Law (Beta – under further development)
We have tried to identify the substantive legal area targeted by each innovation. Many of the innovations target all areas of legal practice. We identified a handful of additional categories that seemed to capture many of the innovations. If an innovation did not fall into one of these categories, we used one of the practice areas listed by Chambers and Partners. This is a “beta” category under further development. We are still refining the categories and working to improve internal consistency.
- All (generally applies to all areas of legal practice)
- Transactional – General
- Litigation – General
- eDiscovery – Litigation
- Diligence – Transactions
- Practice areas listed by Chambers and Partners
The majority of innovations are provided by units within law firms. Some innovations are supplied through a law firm subsidiary or affiliate of another type. Others are launched in partnership with another entity, including legal startups, legal process outsourcers, and alternative legal service providers.
Partner(s) (if any)
Identifies partners, if any, that have been identified by the law firm.
The approximate date the innovation was publically launched.
A one-sentence description based on the law firm’s description of the innovation.
A link to a description of the innovation on the law firm’s website.
Some innovations are no longer offered. When we knew about an innovation but later learned that it was no longer active, we nevertheless added it to the catalog and made a note in this field.
We also consulted lists of innovations in the following resources:
- Jordan Furlong, Law is a Buyer’s Market: Building A Client-First Law Firm (March 16, 2017)
- Rod Friedman, Automating Legal Advice: AI and Expert Systems, Bloomberg Law (January 22, 2016)
- Ron Friedman, R&D in Big Law, Prism Legal Blog (updated July 2017)
- Roy Strom, Joining Other Firms, Bryan Cave Asks Tech Team to Start Billing, The American Lawyer (November 11, 2016) (Registration Required)
- College of Law Practice Management, InnovAction Hall of Fame (last visited July 2017)
- Financial Times, North America Innovative Lawyers (2016 version; last visited July 2017)
- Janders Dean & LexisNexis, Legal Innovation Index (Australia and New Zealand) (through 2016; last visited July 2017)