SOLID West Mike and David

SOLID West Insights

This year’s Summit on Legal Innovation & Disruption (SOLID), really delivered on its name.  Not only did I get to spend time with amazing group of industry leaders, the big picture of the current state of LegalTech became even more clear, with a sneak peak into the future of the industry.

Ben Allgrove, Innovation Partner at Baker Mckenzie, made a statement that really struck me. He proposed that you are not truly innovating unless you’re a little uncomfortable and dissatisfied. At first that seems a  counterintuitive, especially when the underlying premise of technology is to make your life easier, more efficient, and by proxy happier. The fact is humans are creatures of habit. It’s easy to stay where you are and do things the same old way that has reliably worked before. Change is difficult. My takeaway is that even though you may feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied taking on innovation, true growth only occurs when you are outside of your comfort zone.

If you’re involved in Legal Tech today, you’re at the right place and this is the right time. While on one level I already knew this, the number of firms that realize their future depends on stepping out of their comfort zones is increasing exponentially.  One thing I’ve learned in my career is that while technology innovations are happening overnight, the appetite for consumption happens on a completely different time frame. We have most likely heard the story of the person who was developing mobile applications before the first smartphone; right place, wrong time. Real change in the legal industry is happening now, firms are stepping out of their comfort zone. A tangible sign is the number of Chief Innovation Officer “CINO” roles that are appearing in top firms.

“Legal firms need to start acting like a business” said Jen Warner, Columbia Sportswear’s Vice President of Legal, in her fantastic keynote speech. Jen noted that corporate counsel are accelerating their tech adoption faster than legal  firms, driven by customer demand and budgetary concerns. The slower rate of change in legal firms is due to traditional structures and established operations that stymie legal tech adoption. Alternative legal service providers are not bogged down by these established structures.

In summary, SOLID West was an enlightening experience. While I highlighted a couple insights to say these were the only ones would be inaccurate. The presence of so many industry leaders and influence makers is the most telling sign of real change happening. Many thanks to David Cowen, Abby Rosenbloom, and the Cowen Group for being at the heart of an engine for innovation and disruption.  I am looking forward to attending SOLID East later this year.

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