16 March 2018 at 06:05 BST

Corporates ahead of law firms on innovation

Despite a huge industry that has evolved around promoting innovation in legal services, much of it is falling on deaf ears.


According to research from Acritas, a staggering 69 per cent of US corporate legal departments believe they have not seen any of their law firms or legal service providers innovate in the last 12 months.  However, not all are failing their clients with a minority of suppliers demonstrating innovation with wide-ranging levels of sophistication. On the client side, as legal departments have grown, they have begun to invest in innovation and are now overtaking law firms. The research reveals that 41 per cent of US corporate legal departments have innovated internally – that is slightly less than the average for legal departments globally (43 per cent). Lizzy Duffy, VP at Acritas US commented: 'What is innovative to one client is normal practice to another. Our research clearly shows legal departments and their external legal service providers are at different stages of evolution.'

Companies lead the way 

One general counsel based in the US and working in construction said his department had taken steps to develop innovative solutions. 'We’ve developed databases which are shared worldwide that have different types of framework agreements, master agreements that could be used worldwide. So if a lawyer in the Philippines needs a specific type of contract he inputs the type of contract he needs into the database and the database will give him the form of contract so that he can use it.' Another from an energy company said they used a law firm which was innovative in how it gathered documents by using algorithms to pull information together. Ms Duffy added: 'It is technology or knowledge providers that are leading innovation in the market currently.'


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