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31 May 2016

If You Aren’t Failing You Aren’t Innovating Enough: Takeaways From #LGTF16

The inaugural Legal Innovation & Tech Fest was held last week in Melbourne. The event brought together more than 280 legal professionals from over 100 organisations, who came to hear the latest on the technology and innovations that are transforming the way law firms and in-house legal teams operate.

We sat down with Conference Producer Simon Yeowart after Legal Innovation & Tech Fest to reflect on the highly successful event.

What were the main themes that emerged from the conference?

There were so many fantastic insights to take away but here are three that were echoed in multiple sessions during the conference:

1. Quick action, improvement and iteration beats that big, perfect plan you might never start

We heard the word “agile” a lot during the event. Jay D Hull, Chief Innovation Partner at David Wright Tremaine gave the clear message to avoid the “ready aim, aim, aim, aim” mentality. He shared his experiences of building an innovative law firm, with one of the biggest takeaways being “Whatever your project is, you just need to start now”. Connie Brenton echoed this thinking, saying “If you haven’t started already, you’re behind.”

2. If you aren’t failing you aren’t innovating enough

It was clear from many of the sessions that failure must be one of your deliverables if you’re truly committed to innovation.  As Ross Forgione from Johnson Winter & Slattery said, ‘’Expletives equal opportunities.  If it is frustrating people, there is an opportunity to help or innovate.”

Sam Nickless from Gilbert & Tobin gave us the key ingredients for the future-ready law firm: Mindset, Investment and Action. And Peter Campbell from Sparke Helmore Tweeted, ‘’I’m following the right path, but need to speed up. Park the naysayers and work more with people who get it.”

3. We need to transform from a culture of ‘gut feel’ to one of informed decision

 Julian Tsisin from Google told us that everything we are trying to do needs more data, and specifically cleaned data. This is a big challenge but it is the only way legal teams can actually make valuable decisions based on technology.

But as Jonathan Prideaux from Clayton Utz warned, with all the work we do with data, we need to always deliver a ‘’lawyer-friendly tech experience.’’

As the event producer, what was your personal highlight of the event?

I loved hearing so many legal professionals in Australia and New Zealand who acknowledge that the status quo is no longer good enough. It is so refreshing to meet people who are willing to push for disruptive innovation in their own organisation, whatever that organisation might be. I also enjoyed watching 50 lawyers ‘’speed dating (networking)’’ on the Sunday night too!

What was the general feeling in the room in regards to where legal tech is and where it needs to be?

We are at the tipping point of change in a $400B legal sector, if you aren’t already innovating, you’re way behind. The tipping point is passing as we speak and from here it will be evident who isn’t keeping up. The technology exists and is being used – historical behaviour, culture and fear are the only things holding people back.

There are clearly some innovative things being done with legal tech as we saw during #LGTF16 sessions. What were some of the stand-out innovations?

We heard about why we shouldn’t be frightened by machine learning and how automation doesn’t mean the end of jobs for lawyers, it’s actually an opportunity.  It was also great to hear how innovative fee arrangements, novel structures for in-house legal teams and new methods of working eg. Agile and adopting a ‘’Tech Start-up mentality’’ were changing the game for a lot of organisations.

What’s the plan for next year’s Legal Innovation & Tech Fest?

Watch this space! We’ve already started planning the 2017 event – Our research round table discussion groups will kick off in September where we’ll uncover the next set of challenges in regards to legal innovation and technology. We’re already talking to some of the world’s leading legal innovators and the plan is to tap into the wealth of amazing tech projects happening now in Australia, NZ and beyond.

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