Early Careers Stories | 12 June 2019

Legal innovation

Innovative. Agile. Disruptive.

We have all heard these buzz words thrown around in the legal industry and university as the new must have accessory of the season. But unlike the fad of pink being the new black, legal innovation is here to stay.

The legal industry has already undergone remarkable disruption in recent years with new technologies fundamentally changing how we practice law. In a manner of years, we have seen offices once filled to the brim with filing cabinets full of documents transform into ‘paper light’ offices courtesy of digital file management systems. E-discovery and document automation technology have streamlined once onerous processes, allowing lawyers to provide superior client services.

In light of these clear efficiency gains, it is no surprise that innovation has become a major element of the business strategy of law firms and in-house legal teams. The skillsets of lawyers are expanding to include digital capabilities, project management skills and a willingness to challenge the status quo, to name a few.

The following are instances of innovation in legal practice that we have already experienced as graduate lawyers at Hall & Wilcox.

1. Smarter Law

It is hard to work at Hall & Wilcox and not witness Smarter Law in action. Smarter Law sets the tone and direction for all the work that we do as the firm recognises and understands the role innovation plays in driving efficiency and delivering superior client solutions. We are currently rolling out DocAssist, our latest document automation platform that will enable staff to populate and personalise precedents to ensure we deliver high quality and consistent advice.

Hall & Wilcox has also partnered with Checkbox and Neota Logic to develop artificially intelligent web applications that facilitate more efficient legal decision making internally, and provide legal solutions to insurance clients online. Checkbox is a user friendly no-code application tool that is made available to anyone in the firm who wants to bring their ideas to life. The strong focus on Smarter Law enables us to seamlessly operate as legal advisers and commercial managers.

Being exposed to these initiatives as graduates is helping us to expand our perception of what it means to be a modern lawyer. It is not enough for lawyers to be reactive and merely integrate new technologies into the practice of law. We need to be proactive and jump at any opportunity to do something better than those who came before us.

2. Startup partnerships

Alongside our traditional corporate clients, Hall & Wilcox has also embraced opportunities to work with emerging startups. We recognise that an innovative idea today may well become a widespread reality in the future.

Hall & Wilcox recognises the synergies that come from strong partnerships in the startup community. We partner with Stone & Chalk and often collaborate to deliver easily accessible legal support and information to startups who are looking to scale up and commercialise.

Hall & Wilcox also has Frank, a startup program where Frank advisers assist startups to grow by providing legal advice and helping entrepreneurs find practical business solutions. As graduates, we have been able to meet Frank Lab participants and learn about how new business ideas are developed. We have also been able to attend presentations concerned with valuation methods and financing options for startups. These opportunities to network with and learn from disruptors has been fantastic. We have gained valuable insight into the startup world, which has also inspired us to find opportunities for innovation in our own lives.

3. It starts with you

Embracing disruption is not just about getting behind the big, firm-wide initiatives. It is also about continuously improving at an individual level and employing techniques that enable us to work smarter and deliver work more effectively.

One example of individual innovation is using digital time management tools to keep track of tasks. As busy graduates, we have found these tools to be an effective way of both managing the expectations of those who are delegating work and staying across the status of matters. They are also a great way of collaborating on large projects and ensuring everyone stays on top of individual deliverables.

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