Innovation is an attitude – Iberian Lawyer
by ilaria iaquinta
Whether the result of leadership foresight or necessity, innovation also permeates the legal profession. The choice for lawyers is to ride the wave or be swept away by it. They can either wait for the drivers of change to come from above or develop an open mindset that helps them understand when innovation is needed.
Care must be taken not to fall into the pitfall that innovation only depends on the adoption of new technologies. Indeed, innovating means, more generally, changing things to improve them, finding more effective ways to meet the needs of teams or customers. Additionally, digital transformation projects can fail if technology solutions add complexities instead of simplifications.
How to successfully innovate? Starting with a goal. For example, by solving a problem, improving processes or adding value to the team. The first step is to identify the problem and then move on to designing possible solutions. This requires mental clarity, but also open-mindedness. Innovation, in fact, must be seen as a process that can be modulated along the way and yields long-term results. For innovation to happen, everyone has to welcome it and want it. This is why it is necessary to know and understand it, in order to map the risks and potential pitfalls.
You have to learn to navigate the ongoing change, bearing in mind that a changing world always offers opportunities to rethink and reshape what is being done. Looking at things you do from new angles or envisioning new connections can be helpful.
To face the challenges of change and innovation, it can also be useful to: deepen the knowledge of the market (which other law firms and alternative legal service providers offer), recruit the right people to develop a specific innovation path (some law firms already do this), understanding the synergies that can be achieved with the internal legal departments, constantly monitoring the quality of the legal service provided with regard to client requests and expectations. There is another fundamental and transversal factor: the relationship with people. It may seem basic, but it is an element that most of the time we tend to underestimate. The strength is in the team, not in the free agent. Goals are easier to achieve when shared.
Innovation is key to keeping up with change. And to these, as Darwin taught us, we must adapt. The market is changing and the adoption of a new operating model is imperative. Technology can certainly help. But it’s not enough. What is needed is careful management that, in addition to thinking about streamlining certain activities, does not forget to make the most of its resources. We have to question the perspectives and look for new ways of doing things. The bolder, more far-sighted and more ambitious the innovations, the greater the value of law firms.
This issue is devoted to innovation. We talk about the Metaverse, sharing the views of two law firms that have opened their offices in the virtual universe and the intentions of the main law firms of the Iberian Peninsula with regard to this path. We are talking about innovations on the legal front such as the guidelines on the use of algorithms in the work environment published by the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security and the decision of a judge in the Portugal vs immigration authority SEF destined to become jurisprudence, or looking abroad, the UK’s decision to allow blockchain-based court proceedings and in Italy the Barrister’s Certificate initiative to enhance and train the figure and role of the corporate lawyer. Innovation also permeates the project, which we report on in the video chronicle “Ten questions to…”: the General Counsels of Enel and Endesa tell Iberian Lawyer about their involvement in a new innovative project of the United Nations Global Compact on sustainability, which explores the potential of a global network of legal directors to transform corporate governance by connecting it to public governance in order to define operational rules of sustainable development that are valid anywhere in the world.