Tag Archives: innovation

The Law Firm as a Learning Organisation

“The shift to a learning culture is an aspiration; in practice it will take a long time and success in any organisation may be patchy, or even go into reverse on occasion.”  pg 15 Learning and Development 2020: A Guide For The Next Decade

It seems quite apt that my blog post following on from the previous one should look at this issue of developing a learning culture.

The quote is taken from Martyn Sloman’s excellent, and free, report on learning and development.  Follow the link above.

What do law firms have to do to develop a learning culture?

What unique obstacles are there, if any, within law firms?

What examples are there in the market place that demonstrate this learning culture aspiration, and how do they respond to it?

My own view is that competence is often narrowly evaluated within organisations including law firms.  We might see an excellent lawyer as someone who has the most remarkable knowledge of a certain area of law, and the ability to exploit that.

At the same time, however, we might see other skills as being sorely lacking.  Communication, presentation or effectiveness might all be close to nil with these shortcomings either overlooked or covered up.

It can be very difficult to accept that although we might be exceptional in one area that we are verging on the incompetent in others.  As a provocation I put forward the suggestion that future legal service providers might need very little in the way of specific legal knowledge.  They will always be able to access that particular commodity.  The new excellence may well, instead, be measured by accessibility, flexibility and alternative funding structures.

To my mind, the learning culture aspiration opens up a curiosity and an appetite to learn new ways of dealing, serving, working and thinking.  If we can do something to turn on that curiosity then my hunch is that we would see much more fluidity and responsiveness in the emerging legal services market.

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Filed under The Changing Legal Market

Law Firm Video Envy Is A Joyous Thing

I was sent a tweet today from @colmmu on Twitter with a link to a law firm video promoting mediation.  Many readers will know that this was going to press all my buttons for a couple of reasons.

  1. I work in collaborative law which is itself a form of alternative dispute resolution.
  2. I have an interest in law firm video having produced several with no budget at all over at MogersTV
  3. I am a big believer in law firms and lawyers using social media to develop brands and ideas.

I can be pretty scathing about other law firm videos.  YouTube does not need another talking head reading a script off the laptop screen.

When I got the link this morning I gave it a look and was just amazed.  Here, see for yourself…

There is so much to like about this.

I respect the company for having the conviction to invest a reasonable sum into creating this initiative.

Having got the budget, I love the work done by Lambda films.  There is some very punchy editing.  The break at 1 minute 38 is inspired.  I am horribly envious of the photo-frame effect they have got, and the gag with the mediator in the closet, drinking a nice cup of tea is well done as well.

I also appreciated the Making Of… videos that you can also watch – a good way of maximising value for money.

This is quite simply a brilliant law firm video and it deserves every success… I’ve got to get me one of those budgets.

If you are interested in hearing more then Mark Finch, the guitarist and star mediator will be joining me and my fellow podcast host Stephen Anderson on Monday 13th December for episode #6 of the Collaborative Law and ADR podcast, now available on iTunes, just search collaborative law.

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

The Cans and The Cannots – The New Social Exclusion

I blogged here about the Ministry of Justice’s program of cuts and, ahem, reform.  You can read the program at the Ministry’s own website here.

This element of the reform of courts and legal aid struck me, as reinforced by a tweet from Richard Moorhead of @lawyerwatch .

Develop options for using technology and alternative dispute resolution to reduce attendance at all courts.

The intention is to commence consultancy in September 2010, concluding April 2011.

As Richard so eloquently put it, is this the “Usual blether about ADR, IT and efficiency?”

The point of Lawyer1point9 is to be curious, provocative and positive about technology and law.  It is not for me to play the luddite and smash the machines.  I do not want to get in the way of progress and technological innovation within the legal system.

But something worries me here.

IT cannot be used as shorthand justification for cost-cutting.

If we run headlong into IT based solutions then we risk prejudicing whole sectors of the public. Some would be hit twice.

The cuts in legal aid availability and eligibility are massive, and ongoing. Many vulnerable people have no access to affordable legal advice or representation.  It is not enough to say to those people “Oh, that’s okay, we’ve implemented innovative technology.”

And this is where the new social divide is emerging.

It is no longer the haves and the have nots.  We need to be aware of the cans and the cannots.

We take our own IT skills and familiarity for granted.  If you are reading this thing called a blog, the reality is that you are way ahead of the massive majority.

Many of the people who will be affected by reforming cuts will lack skills, confidence and competence to access online resources.

This has been highlighted to me by a couple of incidents.

Last week I was trying to talk through to someone, by phone, how to download a PDF.

We were getting nowhere.  I realised that she was putting the web address I was giving her into the google search box and getting bewildered by pages and pages of entries, as opposed to going to the address bar.

To many people, Google IS the internet.

Even when we got through to the page she wanted, the idea of scrolling the page down to get to the necessary link was way beyond her.

In another incident I delivered some of my Conversational Riffs training to a local education authority last week.  I like to put the notes into a passworded blog format so that people can wrestle with the material, comment upon it.

The email I got back from the LEA explained that many people simply were not allowed to access blogs because of local authority firewalls and the like.

So, a cost-cutting dash to IT is not the answer.  We need to keep a broader awareness of what people are able to do and the limits they face from inadequate skills or access to IT.

If we do not, then we risk excluding the less IT literate and the less IT connected from important parts of society.

We will have the cans and cannots.  Who will speak up for the latter?

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Filed under General Technology

Scratching the surface of WordPress

Last Friday I presented one of my conflict dynamics workshop to a Local Education Authority in South Wales.  It was very well received with a very participative crowd.

I have since broken down the participants notes into small “Blog post” size chunks and posted them on WordPress, with password access so that the delegates can re-engage with the material and debate it amongst themselves and with me.

This led me to think what a flexible, beautiful beast WordPress is.

There must be other ways we could use WordPress for our legal work, beyind the obvious blogging.  Networking events could maybe get their own blog with downloadable guest list.  The guests could receive emailed passwords to drive them to the blog and from there to our websites, LinkedIn, YouTube accounts and the like.

WordPress can easily host video from the event, or other resources.

How do you use WordPress, beyond simple blogging?

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

C’mon! Let’s innovate!

Wikivorce the UK online divorce community

Wikivorce the UK online divorce community

There is a perception that the pioneers of what Richard Susskind calls “disruptive legal technologies” are on a mission to do just that – disrupt.

I was recently talking at an event which was attended by Ian Rispin, the pioneer and tech ability behind www.wikivorce.co.uk, perhaps the leading independent online divorce community, together with the equally resource rich divorceonline.

I had the impression that there was no agenda to disrupt here at all.  He had simply come up with an idea and gone ahead and implemented it.  He was very modest about his creation and showed an affectionate, almost fatherly concern for the community it hosted and served.

I also had the feeling that he was not concerned about just how great a threat he and his website is perceived as being by conventional legal practices.  There was no lawyer bashing agenda here.

Lawyers; Do not take comfort in this fact. There are plenty of other lawyer bashers out there who long to see the profession taken down a peg or several hundred.  What is more we are currently seeing only the first wave of these “disruptive legal technologies” or communities and to guess what the second wave might look like would be crystal ball gazing.

I am sure we will continue to see more and more innovation.

To close, and to encourage any lawyers out there wringing their hands, fretting about Tesco Law, Web 2.0 and whatever else keeps you up at night, take notice of that last sentence.

“We will continue to see more and more innovation.”

Now, here’s the good news!  There is no monopoly on innovation.  The only reason those pioneers are pioneers is because they did something, they started something, they had the germ of an idea which they then nursed and cared for and it grew strong.  Anyone, yes, even a lawyer, even you, can innovate.

What’s stopping us?

Stop fretting. Stop trying to denounce the changes that are already very well advanced and join in.  Conservative longings for the times gone by aren’t going to help us. It was just that conservatism and perhaps complacency (“Oh they could never replace solicitors”) that probably got us where we are today.

Nor will it help to simply polarise the market into us and them, demonising and denigrating the online providers and their services.  There is room for dialogue, scope for inspiration and collaboration.  Remember, they don’t have the monopoly on innovation.

So c’mon! Let’s innovate.

Now,who’s with me?

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media, The Changing Legal Market