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Legal Innovation Outlook for 2022

The world has undergone radical shifts in the last two years. The impacts are being felt across industries and legal is no exception. The pace of innovation is only accelerating, fuelled by novel approaches to solving clients’ problems and technological breakthroughs. Our market-leading experts, drawn from across our global network of offices, reflect on the drivers of legal innovation in 2022…

Stefan Schwarz “In recent years, innovation in law has largely consisted of incremental improvements to make life easier for lawyers and clients. While this is set to continue, we’re now also looking at more fundamental changes in how legal advice is delivered, driven in part by exciting developments in legaltech, together with rising expectations in the role that lawyers play.”

Stefan Schwarz, Chief Legal Operations Officer

The pandemic has been an accelerant, rather than a hindrance, for legal innovation


"The Covid-19 pandemic continued to dominate headlines in 2021, driving the unsteady recovery of the global economy. While in previous periods of economic uncertainty, businesses have held back on new investments, the disruption caused by Covid-19 may be having, in fact, the opposite effect. Some of these investments are essential, such as rapidly transforming an office-based workforce into a remote one, often with very short notice. Others, however, have been a result of the pandemic acting as an accelerant rather than a hindrance for innovation, as businesses capitalise on the opportunities to move ahead with digital transformation and stimulate long-term growth.

The legal world is no exception. We know that innovation is rising up the agenda for our clients – whether through tech, how they collaborate or the skills they have access to. Moreover, navigating the ever-evolving, complex legal and regulatory landscape is simply impossible without innovating to respond to new sets of expectations and responsibilities.

We are excited to be sharing with you our Legal Innovation Outlook 2022 which considers the drivers of change over the coming 12 months. Our experts are anticipating momentum for innovation to build even further as businesses embrace the agility they have fostered over the last two years. Key to success in the year ahead will be having the courage to continue challenging the pre-pandemic ways of thinking as firms focus on adjusting to the post-pandemic world. We hope that we offer inspiration for that journey."

Thomas Quoroll and Peiying Chua Heikes, partners and members of the firm’s Innovation Steering Group.

data server roomData is becoming a key competitive advantage for many of our clients. While smaller and nimbler challengers are able to react quickly to changing market conditions, larger companies are beginning to leverage the structural advantage they have from owning enormous and largely proprietary contractual data sets.

Contractual data outlines all the key institutional relationships between customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and more. It includes audit data embedded within it – invaluable for compliance teams responsible for managing and reducing individual and institutional risk. For large organisations, this presents unprecedented opportunity. Unlocking data from legal documents is growing to be a key priority, accelerated by the pandemic, the move to digital and the need to make strategic business decisions quickly in a rapidly changing environment.

However, accessing legal data continues to be a difficult challenge to solve. Technology solutions, like CreateiQ, can be transformative, by giving users legal, management and audit data in real-time and in both human and machine-readable formats for them to manipulate and gather real intelligence from.

Looking ahead to next year, there should be a greater focus on standardisation and automation. This builds the foundation of clean data on which technology can be deployed, transforming legal contracts into true business intelligence.

Shilpa Bhandarkar, CEO of CreateiQ

software developers working together at laptopWe believe that in order to be ahead of our game and deliver a fantastic client service, we need to be leading the legal industry into the most disruptive, ingenious and challenging period of technological change.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen the pandemic create new needs and challenges, pushing organisations to explore technological options to meet the shift in working patterns and reduce costs and enhance efficiencies, while staying head of the curve.

As part of our long-term strategic Innovation & Efficiency programme, we have established a unique LegalTech R&D team, namely Emerging LegalTech (ELT). Inspired by the biggest and greatest innovative, technological and consulting corporations of our age, ELT is using R&D, applied research and strategic thinking principals to identify potential technological gaps within the business. We will explore pioneering legal technologies in the market, conduct simulation pilots, enhance collaboration and feedback cycles, as well as provide practical insights into the future of legal services.

We foresee that four main drivers will shape the future of legal technologies: enhanced client experience, technology ubiquity, advanced AI capabilities and a knowledge management revolution. Looking ahead, we plan to invest more in our LegalTech experimentation offering to actively engage with these drivers, explore and scope new technologies, embed them in the practice and ultimately enhance our clients’ experience and engagement with us.

Renan Tsoran, Emerging LegalTech Lead

hands typing on computerIn 2022, process re-engineering and automation are likely to remain key areas of focus for organisations as they continue to adapt to hybrid working patterns. Businesses are working hard to ensure that they have the right infrastructure in place that allows everyone to access to the information they need, when they need it, regardless of their location. This includes implementing the right collaborative technologies to ensure they work together on projects as efficiently and effectively as they would if they were in the same office.

This shift is moving conversations on to more end-to-end process thinking. Ensuring processes focus on the individual tasks needed to be performed in order to deliver client requirements, rather than the convenience of where tasks take place. Establishing consistent ways of working and platforms for how work comes into teams, how specific tasks are then delegated, and how progress is reported on and deliverables bought back together and closed off is paramount. This will help guarantee work is distributed effectively across the team and that skills are used to drive maximum value. It will also offer opportunities to improve visibility into processes and the type of work teams are undertaking.

Improved visibility and oversight will help firms differentiate the high volume but low value work, thereby enabling legal experts to focus on the quality and higher value work clients require. We will continue to consider processes in this way and use automation to support our clients. This will help both the firm and our clients to control costs while increasing efficiencies across the work we do, regardless of where our hybrid teams are working from.

Daniel Higgins, Senior Process Improvement Manager

people looking at glass board

In our everyday lives, we are used to products and services being designed with the end user at their absolute centre. The most successful companies are laser-focused on designing their products to eradicate any element of friction and to ensure they deliver exactly what is desired. Legal design is the increasingly recognised approach to ensure legal services can meet this threshold too.

This trend is demanding a deviation from tradition. It is forcing lawyers to pause and understand the client’s problem, instead of immediately offering a solution. We are spending more time embedding legal design in our work for clients and within our teams, because we recognise that we must also put the end user at the heart of all we do.

The opportunity for clients is huge. Put simply, it means that their output and that of their advisers will meet the needs of the end user like never before. Rethinking the old ways of pages upon pages of text-only legal advice, and instead bringing to life the issues at stake in a more engaging way.

In the year ahead, we expect more clients to adopt legal design to solve their biggest issues. They will lean on their trusted advisors earlier, working together to uncover multiple perspectives in order to solve more complex business challenges.

When the intersection of behavioural science and legal practice combine to re-design a post-pandemic future, who knows what the future holds? But with Legal Design, we’re aiming to be best positioned to prosper in the new normal.

Ben Packer, Dispute Resolution Partner and member of the firm’s Innovation Steering Group, and Ali McBurney, Senior Learning Manager

colleagues collaborating at night

2022 will see a continued drive to increase collaboration across organisations. The changes in working patterns due to Covid-19 are still being embedded and organisations are having to find different ways to work together while maintaining excellent client service and building a culture of continuous improvement.

Using an organisation’s collective intelligence can solve complex business issues by capitalising on peoples’ diverse experience and insights as well as encouraging collaboration. Research shows that involving a diverse group of employees early on in change management initiatives improves the chances of success through more informed decision making and teamwork, ensuring people feel like they have been part of the solution and a force for change.

Open innovation will become an ever more critical part of the innovative client services we offer. Seeking opportunities where law firms and their clients can use collaboration platforms to work together to solve problems, and therefore broaden the pool of collective intelligence they have access to will allow law firms to support clients in ways that go far beyond the provision of standard legal advice and services.

Grant Beecham, Senior Innovation Manager

fibre optics

We have made substantial advances in innovating the way we work and the way we deliver our services over the past few years, and this has been accelerated by the increase in hybrid working arrangements. Our strategy for delivering change that resonates with our clients and global practice is to build a multi-disciplinary team which combines legal expertise with other skills such as data science, automation, process improvement and technology generally. Our growing team of innovation lawyers are chosen with these skills in mind and focus on improving the lives of our clients and our lawyers, supported by our knowledge, technology and legal operations colleagues across the globe.

Our lawyers, especially those of the generation now qualifying into our practices, have studied and started work in an environment which is far more digitally-minded than ever before, further driving change across the firm. They therefore expect the technology toolkit we provide them with to be similarly functional, easy to access and use, impactful and improve their quality of life. This has raised the bar for the technology we provide to our teams and also the technology we deploy for use with our clients.

We are seeing an increasing level of collaboration with clients on how they tackle the evolving nature of the legal industry and in particular make best use of the tools and technologies now available in the market. Our innovation lawyers regularly share thinking on these topics directly with our clients as well as advising improvements to our internal working practices.

Innovation lawyers are one example of the broader trend of new and exciting career tracks in law. The line between lawyer and business specialist is blurring and we’re thinking creatively about the needs of our business, and ultimately, our clients. We have knowledge lawyers, practice development lawyers and now a growing team of innovation lawyers, all working together to improve the way we deliver for our clients.

Greg Baker, Corporate Senior Associate (Innovation), and Rachel Manser, Director Knowledge & Learning

people in board room joining online conference call

Over the past year, technology has played a vital role in ensuring we continue to provide our high standards of client service as we navigate the path of hybrid working. We recognise that our people have busy lives inside and outside of work. As our clients’ expectations grow, in parallel with a greater need for flexibility for our people, technology has been instrumental in meeting these demands and supporting the dynamic shift in agile working patterns.

Technology is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Keeping up with latest in video conferencing and broadcasting to enable the best hybrid, virtual meeting and events experience, as well as implementing the latest in Microsoft cloud services are all paramount, to help us stay ahead of the curve and to support the ways our teams are working both in and out of the office. Creating the best user experience for both our clients and our people will involve exploring new and exciting technologies on the market and deploying the right solution to meet our collective ever-evolving needs. Moving to cloud solutions will keep our technology ever-green and will increase the speed at which new features are deployed. A new training and adoption strategy is in design to help us support the pace and volume of new technology that will be coming our way in the next few years.

Looking ahead, we will continue to embrace the latest technologies, from software applications to aid matter and document management, as well as robotics and automation, all to enhance efficiencies across everything we do. We find ourselves in exciting times where technology can really help make a difference.

Bruna Pellicci, Chief Technology Officer

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Legal Innovation Outlook 2022

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