I live in an environment which there is a passion to drive innovation. We want to make things better, cheaper, faster, seamless, more intelligent, and a hundred other adjectives to support our goals. When I read an article this morning from Mark A. Cohen on Forbes’ website this morning, I felt like he was speaking my language. Cohen starts off by saying that one of the reasons law firms struggle with keeping pace with business innovation “is that there are too many lawyers involved in legal delivery and too few logistics, supply chain, and management experts, technologists, project managers, data analysts, and other professionals/paraprofessionals.”

Operations is where it’s at! Right? Just ask a group like CLOC. Operations is in the title for Pete’s sakes.

Then I saw Jeff Carr’s tweet regarding the article, and it got me thinking in a completely different direction.

I had to break this one down in my head.

  • Massive Consumer Confusion. I had to sit back and digest that one for a few minutes. Just who is the consumer of legal innovation?
  • Are law firms simply hotels for lawyers? (this might explain the number of times I’ve attended Four Season’s Hotel customer service classes.)
  • Is legal technology (and innovation) simply a task-based process?
  • The client is the client, right??
  • Well… when it comes to innovation, the lawyer is the the real client? With the idea that the client-client gets a benefit of better service, faster turnaround, and lower invoices??

In addition to all of this that Carr has made me break down and think about, add in Jae Um’s discussion about Big Law partners aren’t dumb: they’re just not in the room. Um’s discussion wraps around innovation discussions at technology/innovation conferences, where she says:

These days, everyone – managing partners, the law firm C-suite, the general counsel, legal ops, pricing professionals, legal technologists, marketing, marketing technologists – has a conference dedicated to showing them how to navigate the future. Everyone is meeting, learning, networking, and engaging in dialogue in gatherings of every size, shape and flavor.

Everyone, except the working partner.

In this case, the “working partner” is the true customer for all these innovations.

It’s enough to make one’s head explode.

At least know it is clear to me who we need to reach out to and bring (kicking and screaming if necessary) into the conversation. As much as we’d like to streamline the process and use Twitter and conferences to move the needle on creation, adoption, and practical usage of innovation, it sounds like some good old fashion knocking on doors is in order.