Much Like Early Cartographers, Legal Innovation Professionals are Instruments of Change

The pioneers of modern legal technology share traits with the pioneers of the past.

Legal Innovation Professionals (LIPs) use technology and change management principles to ensure lawyers deliver the best possible services to their clients. They pave the way for innovation and change, comparable to the cartographers of old who gave explorers the tools needed to traverse new frontiers.

Spanish mapmakers of the 16th Century were instrumental in giving their compatriots the keys to South America, offering safe routes and distances, allowing sea captains to plan effective strategies and push through new boundaries. Similarly, though far less dramatic, I expect, LIPs create a roadmap for their legal tech department and design and implement strategies concerning the adoption, use, and growth of tech throughout their organisation. These tech-savvy leaders create team structures, train members, and strive to foster a positive tech culture, both within their specific team and throughout the entire company.

Perhaps most importantly, LIPs need to be constantly on the pulse of the tech landscape, tuned into the latest developments. Much like how the late 18th Century cartographer wouldn’t dare use an astrolabe once the sextant became available, LIPs need to keep up with the latest tech trends. They work to establish important relationships with clients and software vendors to maximise return on tech investments. Legal Innovation Professionals can add a lot of value to your firm by transforming the way legal services are delivered by fee earners, minimising repetitive labour and enabling more time to focus on client-facing activities.

An accurate map allowed captains of the past and their financiers to better forecast and increase profit margins for their ventures while the LIPs of today help firms to retain strong profit margins while quoting more competitively, especially on fixed fee projects, winning more work while providing a tangible and measurable return on investment.

The Legal Innovation role has evolved and grown significantly in prominence over the last 6-8 years as firms have looked to tech to help them keep up with rival firms or even be the ones leading the charge. The tools used and role itself has evolved akin to how Ptolemy greatly increased the accuracy of mapmaking using advanced mathematics and Mercator, who pioneered a technique allowing our spherical world to appear proportionally on a flat surface.

However, as important as this role has become, there are roadblocks to entry.

As this role did not exist 20 years ago, it is still evolving meaning that the career path has yet to fully develop, limiting progression opportunities. Likewise, there is a ceiling on progression as legal innovation team leaders have been unable to soar to the heights of their fee-earning counterparts, unable to move past the leadership of their own team.

Additionally, law firms face hiring challenges as they are unable to match the salaries offered by the top consulting firms.

However, the pressure is on firms to rectify this oversight. As technology continues its exponential rise, legal clients are expecting more tech insight for their fees, giving firm leadership ample motivation to raise salaries in line with the rest of the market. Likewise, the positive effect of these pioneers is being felt and more accurately rewarded.

Technologies, like maps, are campfires. Everyone gathers around them because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance and find agreement about how to best tackle them. If you’re searching for someone to light the way for your legal tech offering, I’m working with some fantastic Legal Innovation Professionals who are available to build your organisation a roadmap to implementing a successful legal tech culture.