Strategic Innovation as an Emerging Firm Function.

An in-depth look at the ways in which innovation and strategy can be incorporated into a law firm, as a function, rather than a concept.

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  • Publication date: October, 2018
  • Pages: 100
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-350-8


Firms making up Big Law have heard the “i” word and are responding.

Innovation is on the lips of chairpersons everywhere; innovation committees are cropping up; innovation chiefs and partners are proliferating; and strategic plans are being amended to include the “i” word. “We must innovate,” is the command of the hour, of the month, of the year. When the firm declares innovation as a goal and begins looking around for who and how to proceed, how do you go about innovating when the boss tells you to do it?

Strategic Innovation as an Emerging Firm Function looks at the ways in which innovation and strategy can be incorporated into a law firm, as a function, rather than a concept. Some firms respond by adding roles to the c-suite. Others create whole departments. Others still task individuals with the process as part of their everyday duties. What is clear is innovation is becoming a function – as tangible and present as marketing, as sales, as any of the other key roles that make up a law firm.


Chapter 1: Structuring for innovation
By John Alber, futurist, International Legal Technology Association
Chapter 2: Innovation for law firms; it’s not what you think
By Simon Nash, director, Insight Limited
Chapter 3: Where does innovation sit?
By Duncan Hart, consulting lawyer, Duncan Hart Consulting
Chapter 4: Profiling the legal strategy and innovation officers
By David Parnell, founder, True North Partner Management
Chapter 5: Why innovate? The link between strategy and innovation
By Langdon Morris, founder, Innovation Labs
Chapter 6: Adopting a strategic planning approach and leadership for innovation
By Christie Guimond, corporate development manager, Bird and Bird
Chapter 7: Connecting culture and strategy – building success with the strategic planning process
By Carrie Hanna, chief strategy officer, Gunster
Chapter 8: Innovation as function – the eight dimensions of an innovative law firm culture 
By Lawton Penn, head of DWT De Novo, and Samuel Davenport, director of legal business solutions, DWT De Novo
Chapter 9: Innovation as a business development strategy 
By Scott Rechtschaffen, chief knowledge officer, Littler Mendelson
Chapter 10: The innovation committee’s brief
By Duncan Hart, consulting lawyer, Duncan Hart Consulting
Full overview


John Alber
John Alber serves as Futurist for the International Legal Technology Association and for the Institute for the Future of Law Practice. He writes, speaks and consults on the need to reshape the delivery of legal services to suit a future demanding excellence far beyond substantive legal skills.  John has served as a transportation industry CEO, as a practicing attorney and as a law firm leader. During his 16 year tenure as Bryan Cave’s Strategic Innovation Partner, that firm came to be recognized as one of the most innovative law firms in the world. While at Bryan Cave, he also served for 7 years on the firm's Operating Group (its management committee). At Bryan Cave, John created one of the first practice economics consulting groups, one of the first client facing software development groups, and one of the first in-firm legal process outsourcing (LPO) organizations. The groups he created developed innovative web-based, client-centric applications that delivered legal advice to clients, managed complex workflows and even created pleadings automatically. They also developed client-facing knowledge management, project management, project estimation and business intelligence systems and highly technology- leveraged alternative staffing solutions for engagements of all types.  John is an Emeritus fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He has received a number of awards, both in the legal field and in information technology generally. Among other awards, he received ILTA's first ever Premiership Award, was named American Lawyer Media’s first ever ‘Champion of Technology', was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Law Technology News and recognized as one of the ‘Top 25 CTOs’ in the world by Infoworld. In addition, while under his leadership, Bryan Cave received recognition as a CIO Magazine ‘Top 100 Company' and was twice recognized as ILTA’s Most Innovative Firm
Simon Nash
Simon Nash read Law at Bristol University in the UK, and holds the Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and also membership of the British Psychological Society. Until 2017, Simon was the global HR director for Carey Olsen, a prestigious offshore law firm. While at Carey Olsen, he doubled the headcount while the firm tripled financial turnover and achieved Tier One rankings across all practices. Over this time, Simon’s people and performance strategy won four major awards and was widely written about in the HR and legal press. Now Simon runs, a human factors advisory firm, and ValueMetrix, a business ethics consultancy. He also has interests in two tech start-ups in the HR data analytics space.
Duncan Hart
Duncan Hart practiced as a barrister and solicitor for over 20 years before becoming the regional managing director of one of Australasia’s largest firms with over 2,000 employees. He became a full-time consultant in 2002. His various consultancies have taken him from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, and his clients include not only law firms, but a wide cross-section of industry groups, including manufacturing, health, education, and IT. Duncan’s first book, The Strategic Law Firm (Ark Group, 2010), argued the case for a more strategic approach to law firm management, and in particular the adoption of the types of strategic planning tools and methodologies that he had seen in operation in many of his clients’ industry sectors. More recently, his background in intellectual property has led him to explore more closely the role of disruptive technologies and business models in various sectors, including law, patent attorney, and other professions. Many of his recent assignments involve the so-called “start-up” sector, and larger more mature industries where clients are seeking to develop innovation-based strategies in fields as diverse as bio-tech and logistics. In all his assignments, Duncan draws from a rich palette of industry and professional experience, and he is committed to the belief that law firms, like any other business, have much to learn from other sectors, particularly in the area of innovation-based strategy. In short, they should be encouraged to experiment to find new, and hopefully better, solutions for both the firm and their clients. Duncan can be contacted via email at
Christie Guimond
Christie Guimond is an experienced strategy and innovation manager at Bird & Bird LLP, who has worked at the forefront of disruption in the legal industry for over a decade. Her experience includes developing a legal project management capability, introducing widespread legal and operational process improvements, including the implementation of initiatives such as smarter working and the adoption of emerging technology solutions. She also monitors the changing legal landscape and advises senior executives and in-house teams on how to respond to these changes.
David J. Parnell
David J. Parnell is a business of law author, columnist, speaker, and the founder of legal search and placement boutique, True North Partner Management.
Langdon Morris
Since 2001, Langdon Morris has led the innovation consulting practice of InnovationLabs LLC, where he is a senior partner and co-founder. His work focuses on developing and applying advanced methods in innovation  and strategy to solve complex problems with very high levels of creativity. He is recognized as one of the world’s leading thinkers and consultants on innovation and strategy, and his original and ground-breaking  work has been adopted by corporations and universities on every continent to help them improve their innovation processes and the results they achieve.
Carrie Hanna
As chief strategy officer for Gunster, Carrie Hanna collaborates with firm leadership in guiding the firm’s strategic direction and advancement throughout the State of Florida. As a 30-year veteran marketing professional, she drives the development and implementation of key strategic initiatives that contribute to the firm’s bottom line. She counsels individual attorneys on business development, client engagement, and a wide variety of marketing initiatives. As CSO, Carrie advises the 200-lawyer firm on brand identity, in order to maintain a consistently strong market position within the many industries that are part of Florida’s vibrant economy.
Lawton Penn
Lawton Penn leads Davis Wright Tremaine’s efforts to modernize the delivery of legal services to provide more value to its clients’ businesses. DWT De Novo is Davis Wright Tremaine’s dedicated legal solutions team. Lawton is an advocate for meeting clients’ changing needs and sees the power of combining excellent legal knowledge with technology, new staffing models, data analytics, and process improvement in order to deliver a more comprehensive solution.
Scott Rechtschaffen
Scott Rechtschaffen is chief knowledge officer at Littler Mendelson and leads Littler’s effort to provide innovative client services by integrating new technologies and work processes and enabling attorneys and clients to access the collective knowledge and experience of the firm’s more than 1,000 attorneys. He combines over 25 years of experience representing companies in every area of labor and employment law with a broad understanding of technology to help the firm’s attorneys and their clients in tailoring unique solutions that enhance the firm’s ability to deliver legal information and legal services to its clients. Scott heads Littler’s knowledge management department comprising dedicated KM attorneys, research specialists, and technologists. He was a member of the multi-disciplinary team that developed the award-winning Littler CaseSmart® approach to legal case management. He oversees the firm’s electronic and print publications, internal KMnsystems, and online client subscription services. Scott is the co-founder of ComplianceHR, an innovative joint venture launched by Littler and Neota Logic, a legal software company. ComplianceHR leverages Littler’s experience and knowledge of employment law with the power of Neota Logic’s expert systems to provide a transformative suite of online compliance solutions for HR and legal professionals. In 2015, the Financial Times presented ComplianceHR with an award for Innovation in The Business of Law: Compliance & Technology. For his achievements, Scott has been awarded the Distinguished Peer Award as KM Champion of the Year by the International Legal Technology Association, named to the Fastcase 50, an annual compilation “honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators”, and was named among the 10 most innovative lawyers in North America by the Financial Times in 2014.

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