Law Firm Innovation Roundup: Design Thinking, Chatbots & More

Law Firm Innovation - Finding ways to grow Keeping your finger on the pulse of industry trends and innovations is essential to keeping your firm positioned for future success. Knowing how time-consuming it can be to slog through all the discussions out there, we’ve done the legwork for you. Here is a roundup of some of the freshest, inspiring ideas and resources published in recent days.

1. Improve Problem Solving with Design Thinking

In a post on the International Legal Technology Association blog, Jason Dirkx outlines a proven approach to problem solving that is gaining traction in the legal profession: Design Thinking. This approach is well suited for addressing those seemingly intractable problems. Think about answering the call of clients to better understand their needs, or even enabling support professionals and lawyers to better understand each other.

Design Thinking revolves around walking diverse teams through exercises that are “highly collaborative, messy and iterative.” And it works because the exercises are guided by core principles and modes of operating. In other words, there’s a method to the madness.

As Dirkx explains, “While Design Thinking has been employed by the corporate sector for decades, it has been largely ignored by legal. However, the philosophy is starting to gain traction as the players in legal adapt with the changing industry.”

2. Generate Leads with a Chatbot

An article on the Solicitor’s Journal website explains how a chatbot called LawBotX has been launched in seven countries to help law firms generate leads the 21st-century way. The chatbot calls upon a combination of algorithms that predict case outcomes and a client selection filter powered by machine learning.

The UK version includes a feature developed specifically for law firms. As prospective clients interact with the chatbot in automated conversations, the technology pinpoints the client’s problem and narrows down the issue. The algorithm then calculates the prospective client’s chances of winning the case, funneling the strongest leads to the firm – with 71% accuracy according to the company offering the technology (Elexirr).

The company’s founders are working on the next generation of a deep-learning model that they hope will help them reach 80% accuracy. They’re so confident in their solution’s performance that they’re sponsoring a competition in September, challenging London’s top lawyers to compete against the system.

Law firms can add questions to filter potential clients further based on their own requirements or field of expertise. And through the machine-learning algorithms, the system ‘learns’ from the law firm’s choices to make better matches over time.

Elexirr advises law firms to take advantage of LawBotX (now referred to as Legal Network) via Facebook Messenger, saying, “A chatbot can engage users in their natural habitat, the familiar medium of their daily messaging platform.” That said, firms can also install a widget on their own site.

Right now, the chatbot is being offered to a select number of firms, mainly on the private client side. The goal is to get 50 firms up and running by the end of 2017.

3. Get Emotionally Intelligent

According to Jaimie Field, Esquire, rather than fear all the change promised by technologies like artificial intelligence, law firms are better off accepting that change is inevitable and preparing themselves to succeed in a different future. Field underscores that technology is intended to help, not hurt. In fact, when used properly, it can free lawyers to focus on what cannot be replicated by machines. Here Field highlights emotional intelligence.

Based on 15 years experience training lawyers, Field assures firms that soft skills such as emotional intelligence can be learned. As she reminds us, “Whether they are commercial or personal issues, lawyers need to provide support and counsel to people…Learning to connect, to create relationships, to use the soft skills that we have put aside in an effort to maximize the efficiency of the hard skills that can, have and will be replaced by AI (like research, document review, brief and contract writing) will become paramount in a lawyer’s life.”

Follow her sage advice and up your emotional intelligence quotient now.

4. Prepare for AI’s Impact on the Law

If you’re hungry for more about AI and its impact on your profession, well-known British technology lawyer, Richard Kemp, walks you through an overview of the technology and its implications for law firms. First, he says, ‘It’s only AI until you know what it does, then it’s just software.”

As far as Kemp is concerned, AI will be rapidly adopted in the next five years and the law will struggle to keep pace. He recommends firms keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t anthropomorphize AI: Remember, AI is in personal property not a person, AI systems aren’t ‘agents’ in any legal sense, and AI platforms don’t possess a separate legal personality.
  • Don’t lose sight of first principles – whether it’s regulation or in contract, tort or copyright law – in the face of this new technology.

The main focus right now as concerns AI in the legal world is data law. Think data privacy, security, and legal rights around data licensing and data sovereignty. For the latter two, this boils down to: Do we have the right permissions to do what we want to do with our data? Who owns our data when it’s in someone else’s data center?

While a lot needs to be sorted out, Kemp advises law firms to expect to charge lower fees at first for services tied to their use of AI. It’s also wise to talk sooner than later to the firm’s indemnity insurers to be clear on their risk concerns.

5. Embrace and Equip for Digital Selling

As the respected global advisory firm, EY, says, “To remain relevant, sales professionals can no longer carry on as they used to — they need to become just as digital as their customers.” This holds true across every industry, even the legal profession. But digital selling isn’t just about taking a different approach to selling. As EY says in this summary of its new report on digital selling, “…it encompasses myriad skills, tools and processes that, in many companies, likely don’t already exist.”

The summary and report outline what it takes to put in place a center of excellence that is critical to excelling with digital selling. Read the summary for an overview and then dive into the 12-page report to learn more about the three key ways that digital selling helps generate more revenues, and the six core capabilities of digital selling.

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