It all came suddenly
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. - W. Edwards Deming
In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Amish folks still use horses and buggies for transportation. They share country roads with automobiles and cling to the old way for a variety of reasons, including slowing the speed of life and distancing themselves from the world. You need a good horse, but even so, the speed is five to eight miles per hour.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world has embraced the new technology of modern transportation. It all came suddenly at the beginning of the twentieth century, and now is progressing at an unanticipated galloping speed.
The legal world is changing suddenly too - to being more digital and virtual - with pressure to evolve beyond video conferencing technologies that most of us were forced to embrace during the pandemic.
As Anna writes in her first e-book, Legally Innovative, “The business of legal is just starting to turn into an innovation have and have not world. Those who can harness the powerful combination that is humans and computers, and those who cannot or won’t”.
Indeed, 59% of law firms are increasing their investment in legal technology post-pandemic - private practice lawyers are upskilling for the future. According to Eric Chin of research firm Alpha Creates, that’s a seven-fold increase since 2015.
On the other hand, 70% of in-house legal departments are not investing in digital transformation, or their investment has declined significantly in the wake of the pandemic.
It’s the first time we’re seeing law firms, statistically anyway, prioritising being “tech first”.
Horse before the cart transformation
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford.
“One of the biggest gaps is leadership. Russell Reynolds found that as much time as organizations spend thinking about transformation initiatives themselves, they often spend significantly less time thinking about the people who will drive these changes. They put the cart before the horse. Yet the person leading the change matters just as much or more than the many other aspects of the transformation that organizations plan extensively”.
So, how do legal leaders manage change to achieve the highest probability of success?
The 8-Step process for leading change
It is well established that change is an organizational issue, a leadership issue, a cultural issue and not just about technology implementation. As noted above, it requires the powerful combination that is humans and computers.
John P. Kotter is the Harvard Business School Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus. In his Leading Change, he describes the best thought-out and anchored in real-life business experience process for enterprise-wide change management. He describes eight steps following Kurt Lewin's three-stage concept - unfreeze, change, refreeze.
1 - Establish a Sense of Urgency
2 - Create the Guiding Coalition
3 - Develop the Change Vision & Strategy
4 - Communicate the Change Vision
5 - Empower Broad-Based Action
6 - Generate Short Term Wins
7 - Consolidate Gains & Produce More Change
8 - Anchor New Approaches in the Culture
It’s important to note that leading change requires a strong dose of proactivity in each of the eight steps - a (leadership) skill which doesn’t come naturally for all lawyers, who are taught to be anchored in the precedent past and be largely reactive.
In the years ahead, what will increasingly take up more law firm partner time? “The key for many firms is to go back to foundational management theory which states that structure should follow strategy. By strategy, we mean clarity of aspirations, market focus, and competitive edge; and by structure, we mean roles, relationships, resources, capacity, and operating systems.”
Change Rhythm in Motion
“What’s change if not pioneers insisting on progress?”
Glad you asked.
Introducing inCite Legal Tech. Outlining the scope of our commitment from the start, our clients know exactly what they’re signing up for: a two-week engagement for a one-time fixed fee. It’s a tried and tested methodology we’ve finessed over decades - remotely delivering actionable results not extended timelines.
Holistically assessing the parameters that determine our clients’ business’ digital future across six key pillars: business, operations, people, platform, process and security, we know that trotting past the gaps today puts obstacles in the way of tomorrow’s opportunity.
In this current era of modern law, giving up the old horse and buggy is vital but becoming increasingly necessary across the legal profession to achieve both competitive relevance and reverence.
In 2022, we’ve heard about the Great Resignation and the Great Shuffle. So is 2023 going to be the year of Great Change for law firms?
Don’t keep putting change off - book in for your legal tech pulse check with inCite Legal Tech now.
Authored by Anna Lozynski and Bill Bispeck