I had the opportunity to speak at the CodeX, FutureLaw Conference at Stanford Law School last week. Its my second time attending, and I continue to be impressed with the diversity of topics, professions and people who participate. One of the presentations to catch my attention was conducted by Professor Daniel Linna, from Michigan State University. Professor Linna is the Director of LegalRnD, the Center for Legal Services Innovation, and gave a presentation showcasing an index he has developed to measure legal innovation in law firms and universities. The measurement of innovation adoption is challenging. Casey Flaherty established test criteria to grade lawyer’s mastery of technology, and Jeff Ward at Duke Law has spoken at the AALL conference about innovation levels students reach as they progress in law school. I think even Professor Linna will be the first to say his index is version 1.0, and there is much room for further development (OK, he did say that actually), but the point is all these people are trying to tackle the measurement and data presentation challenge.
As I was listening to the session, I was thinking about a conversation I had the week before with a colleague. My point was that to establish a firm-wide mentality favorable to innovation, part of what we should be doing is recruiting from law schools that have a proven track record of in that space (hello index, hello levels!), along with the other factors we typically use for evaluation. This was met with an agreement. I took the idea further and said we should also have innovation criteria for lateral hires, and not just evaluate based on a book of business. This got a loud laugh. But I think the time is fast coming where this sort of measurement and evaluation is going to become commonplace in making hiring choices– It is still not a given that successful lawyers and firms have ingrained an innovation mentality and process to their practice of law.