LinkedIn book cover imageJust in time to help you level up your LinkedIn game for 2020, here are 47 tips from Allison Shields Johs and me.

There are plenty of practial tips for each essential building block of your LinkedIn efforts – Profile, Connections and Participation.

Both networking and your network have never been more important than they are today. Level up you game before the end of the year with these great tips.

Want even more? Allison and I’s book, Make LinkedIn Work for You: A Practical Handbook for Lawyers and Other Legal Professionals, is available on Amazon.

 


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Just in time for the end of the year, I’ve added two new Legal Innovation as a Service products to the catalog. Download PDF Brochure

Idea Therapy. I’ve turned on of the things I’m known best for into an LIaaS product.  My friend Mike Cappucci watched me take someone’s start of an idea and ask them questions and help them shape the idea into something that worked, got them past the difficulties they were having, and got them excited about moving the idea forward in practical and concrete ways. He said, “You are like an idea therapist.” I like the term. I’ve also been called an “idea whisperer.”

Think of this as practical talk therapy for an idea (or start of an idea) you are struggling with. I’ll walk you through a set of questions, work with you on the Value Proposition Canvas (where many problems surface), and we’ll dig into an in-depth analysis. Typically, when I use this approach with people, I save them thousands of dollars spent in chasing the wrong things and going in the wrong directions. More important to me, however, is that people end up with clarity and purpose. $10,000.

Innovation Wellness. We’ve all been hammered by the enents of 2020 and aree suffering in our own ways. So have innovation programs. Just like we all could use some attention and help with wellness, so can our innovation programs.

In this product, I offer an annual physical, checkup and tune-up for your innovation program. We’ll evaluate it, analyze its health and wellness, and make recommendations for a wellness plan tailored to your needs. You will have a roadmap, a plan and accountability. $10,000.

There’s no time like the present. We don’t know what the rest of 2020 holds, but it’s prudent to assume that 2021 will be a heck of a ride, and not one you will want to take alone.

Download LIaaS PDF Brochure

Learn more about Legal Innovation as a Service offerings and how to purchase here.

Members of the the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Premium group on Mighty Networks get discounts on LIaaS offerings.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Logo for The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcastLong-time listeners of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast and other friends of the show know that Tom has been after me to start having regular interview guests on the show for quite a while.

The good news: we’ve started.

The great news: Wow, they’ve been excellent! I highly recommend that you check out the ones we’ve released and watch for the upcoming ones.

The most recent was with Bob Moesta, author of the new book, Demand-side Sales 101, and one of the originators of Jobs to be Done theory. It will go down in our podcast history as the “why Dennis hired his new blender” episode and might surprise you about how much that exercise will tell you about how clients buy legal and other professional services.

Here’s the list of recent interview shows:

Great shows! And big thank yous to Heidi, Kelly, Gina and Bob! Let us know what you think about the interview episodes.


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Download my FREE “57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law” (PDF).

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Page snapshot of listI recently wanted to brainstorm some ideas for new tech/innovation courses in law schools (primarily, but not just, for Michigan State University College of Law).

It got a little out of hand.

In addition to my own list, the list of past MSU courses, and course ideas I gathered from the Syllabi Commons, I reached out to people on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The list now tallies 191 ideas.

That’s not a few courses. That’s not just a potential curriculum. It’s like the basis for founding a whole law school.

I’ve released the very first iteration as PDF under the Creative Commons CC BY license.  The catch, you ask? You’ll need to join at least the free Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Network group to see and download it. That will introduce you to my new Mighty Networks platform and see what is available in the KIPL Premium group.   I plan to share future updates, revisions, et al.  to this list only in the KIPL Premium group.

I welcome your discussion of this list. It should give you a lot to think about.

 


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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LinkedIn Profile. Also, see LinkedIn showcase page for Dennis Kennedy’s books.

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Screencapture of Dennis Kennedy presentation videoI was doing some research on lawyering for ecosystems and platforms and found the video of a presentation called “Agile Lawyering inthe Platform Era” I did several years ago. It’s on The Law Lab Channel (along with many other great videos) – definitely worth a visit.

This presentation was a first pass at a topic I’ve thought a lot about and it contains many key ideas I’ve developed since, especially in my book, Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations (available on Amazon).

Would love to learn what you think and whether these ideas still make sense and hold up.

Screencapture of Dennis Kennedy presentation video


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Download my FREE “57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law” (PDF).

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Monk meditatingIn connection with the launch of the new Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Community, I’m excited to announce a new online course that should appeal to most, if not all of the readers of this blog.

It’s called “Productive Personal Quarterly Offsites for Busy Legal Professionals.” The price is $39.99 for members of the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Premium Group and $99.99 for member of the limited-feature free KIPL network. To get more details and purchase the course, go here.

I’m often asked how I find the time to do everything that I do and get so much accomplished.

In this course, I share one of my best secrets to outcomes and transformations

In this course, I’ll share one of my best secrets to outcomes and transformations. The course sets out a practical step-by-step apporach I’ve used for several years with great success.

Most people have the problem of being too busy with day-to-day work to find the time and space they need to focus on the big picture and their own personal goals, challenges, and dreams.

This course gives you my plan to guide you to taking an action – a Personal Quarterly Offsite – that will keep you from drifting into the future at the whims of others, and navigate your course through challenging times, stay on that course, and thrive on the other side – over and over again.

In the course, I’m your guide to help you create and produce your own effective and satisfying personal quarterly offsites based on approaches that really work for busy legal professionals. This course is designed for busy legal professionals who truly want to rethink their careers, practices, and lives at this time and who are motivated to find a half-day or so for themselves to focus on their own futures.

This course gives you my plan to guide you to taking an action – a Personal Quarterly Offsite – that will keep you from drifting into the future at the whims of others, and navigate your course through challenging times, stay on that course, and thrive on the other side – over and over again.

The course has five lessons that you can view at your own pace. Each lesson has a helpful worksheet. I recommend that you resist the urge to sprint through all five lessons in one sitting and that you spend some time on the worksheets and the thought processes they encourage.

In lesson 1, I introduce the concept of the Personal Quarterly Offsite and talk about the main features and what you will want to consider.

In lesson 2, I cover preparation and goals.

In lesson 3, I walk you through exactly what to do on the day of your Personal Quarterly Offsite.

In lesson 4, I focus on the vital steps of wrapping-up effectively and creating action steps.

And, in lesson 5, I conclude with some important action steps for you to take as soon as the course ends.

All of which will help you achieve your personal vision, leverage a proven new approach, and do something different and innovative that will set you apart from your peers.

Don’t delay, join the KIPL Premium group (or KIPL Network) and start working on your own personal quarterly offiste today!


[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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I’m so excited to announce my new Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Community on the Mighty Networks platform.

The KIPL Community is something I’ve wanted to build for many years and I believe I’ve found the best way to do that. I invite you to join in on a transformational journey for innovators in law.

Why am I launching this now? Here’s the Big Purpose:

I bring together innovators, thinkers and doers in law to share our experiences and access innovation resources, courses and projects, so that we can create a collaborative space that provides independence from organizational inertia, freedom to innovate as we want, and support of our professional and personal legacies.

That’s the big picture. What are the details?

The real action will be in the KIPL Premium group – exclusive content, a $60 discount on my new Personal Quarterly Offsites course, discounts on some of my products and services, activities, events, networking, and more. There is also a very lightweight, limited-feature free group to give you a taste of the platform, the community, and a sampling of new content.

What you will find in the KIPL Premium group.

  • Exclusive content – this group will be my primary outlet for my longform content going forward. I’ll also create new content just for this group and post other content not available elsewhere (or that cannot be located easily)
  • Access to the KIPL Premium community – Mighty Networks gives us many ways to connect, communicate and collaborate
  • Regular themes, discussion topics, polls, questions and more to make every visit new and worthwhile.
  • Events, courses, and, maybe, office hours
  • Access to my new ideas and insights into new projects
  • My perspective on the industry as well as perspectives of some of my expert friends
  • Discounts on courses, products and services
  • A place to find the personal and professional transformation and recognition you want and already know that you are not likely to find within the confines of your current organization.\
  • And more

Charter member pricing is $12.99 monthly (or $129.99 annually). I’ll do the math for you – annual is the better deal. As a charter member, I will not increase your price for the life of the community (unless you ask me to do so).

Join today at the Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory Community site.

As I say on the site:

This community is a gathering place for innovators in law who have been influenced by my writing, speaking and other work and who have, in turned, influenced me. It is an experiment and an adventure to see what can grow be creating a community of people wanting to innovate in law. You’ll get easy access to my content, including some new kinds of exclusive content, longer thought pieces and opinions, reviews and commentary, online courses, special events, group activities, and networking. You can learn, share ideas and find people to collaborate with. It’s also a place for you to float ideas, get feedback and make new friends. Ultimately, we all are wanting to create a collaborative space that provides independence from organizational inertia, freedom to innovate as we want, and support of our professional and personal legacies. I want to try to create exactly that as part of my own legacy.

I invite you to join me.

Photo by Miriam Fischer from Pexels

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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I’ve written extensively about what law departments can do to innovate their panel convergence efforts in recent years, including in my book, Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations. I’ve also made the book chapter on panel convergence available for free here.

There are two key reasons that the panel convergence trend with continue to gather steam in corporate law departments. First, “digital transformation,” in all forms, has become a top two or three strategy at many companies. Second, “innovation,” in demonstrable and concrete forms, is now (and will continue to be) on the annual objectives list for most general counsel.

It is difficult for me to imagine that, in the next 6 – 12 months, any law department using a panel approach of approved law firms will not be re-evaluation the existing list and looking, at a minimum, to thin the herd. I can’t imagine that CEOs and CFOs will tolerate anything else.

I can’t imagine that CEOs and CFOs will tolerate anything else.

For forward-looking legal innovation leaders and top-level executives (especially in corporate law departments) who must deliver on the promise of panel convergence efforts, I am offering my panel convergence advisory services so that you can confidently achieve the potential business benefits and cost savings traditionally associated with panel convergence and supercharge your efforts with innovation deliverables.

You can confidently achieve the potential business benefits and cost savings traditionally associated with panel convergence and supercharge your efforts with innovation deliverables.

FOR LAW DEPARTMENTS

  1. Review existing panel convergence RFP questions on innovation and technology and recommend improvements
  2. Assist with review of RFP responses from outside law firms, including selection firms selection to pitch in person
  3. Help prepare questions for outside law firm pitch meetings
  4. Review pitches and submissions and assist in recommending and selecting finalists
  5. Recommend and scope ongoing review and other requirements for panel firms
  6. Evaluate technology and innovation efforts of existing panel firms and make recommendations about changes to panel

Fixed fee options always available.

Contact me now to discuss your needs. More details here or call me at 734-926-5197.

Download my free 57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law PDF.

+++++++++++++++++

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Download my FREE “57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law” (PDF).

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I’m not surprised to see some significant stories recently about aggressive efforts by law departments to trim bloated lists of outside law firms and end up with leaner and more aligned panels. There are many reasons: corporate directives, economic stress, cost-cutting initiatives, reports of NYC associate billing rates topping $1,000 an hour, partners hoarding billable hours and doing and charging for associate-level work, to name but a few.

However, two reasons stand out for me. First, “digital transformation,” in all forms, has become a top two or three strategy at many companies. Second, “innovation,” in demonstrable and concrete forms, is now (and will continue to be) on the annual objectives list for most general counsel.

It is difficult for me to imagine that, in the next 6 – 12 months, any law department using a panel approach of approved law firms will not be re-evaluation the existing list and looking, at a minimum, to thin the herd. For most, the desired goal is to retain in-house talent and not fatten the wallets of partners in outside law firms. If outside firms raise rates again in early 2021, expect this trend to accelerate dramatically. I can’t imagine that CEOs and CFOs will tolerate anything else.

To help you prepare for these efforts (and to improve your existing work on panel convergence), I’m sharing a free chapter excerpt on innovation in panel convergence from by book, Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law. I hope you find that the chapter gives you much to think about and some ideas for paths forward. And, yes, I do help law departments with this process.

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Chapter 43. Panel Convergence

Stories abound these days about general counsels wanting their outside law firms to help them with innovation and technology efforts. My own conversations indicate that the real wish goes a step further. General counsel want their outside firms to bring them measurable value with innovation and technology initiatives that align with their legal and, more importantly, business goals. Even a quick scan of recent survey results from Thompson Hine (https://www.thompsonhine.com/uploads/1135/doc/ ClosingTheInnovationGapPrint.pdf ) will have you agreeing with their assessment that there is an “Innovation Gap.” Only 29% of participants said that their outside firms have brought them “significant” innovation.

Is it possible that an increasingly common practice in corporate law departments is a solution to achieving these innovation and technology goals?

Panel convergence (or, as I sometimes call it, panel consolidation) is now a popular approach in corporate law departments under pressure from CEOs and CFOs to gain control of legal spend. In some cases, making legal spend predictable and more certain can be more important than cost reduction, although fee discounting is commonly associated with panel convergence.

The concept is a simple. A legal department puts out a request for proposals (“RFP”) for firms to pitch for a place on what will be a small and select list of approved outside law firms on the panel. Firms complete what tends to be a very long and complex questionnaire, firms are selected to present in person as part of a “beauty contest,” and finalists are selected.

Only the firms on the new panel list are eligible to receive work from the law department. Not making the panel will have drastic consequences for outside law firms. In most, if not all, cases, the convergence effort results in a dramatic reduction in the number of outside firms used by the law department.

I like to trace the notion of convergence back to quality pioneer W. Edwards Deming, who believed that by reducing the number of outside suppliers (he went so far as to suggest getting it down to one) and working with them to get aligned on business goals, you could achieve excellent business results. In the legal profession, the Dupont Legal Model (http://businessoflawblog.com/2016/07/3-business-insights-learned-from-the-dupont-model/) and Jeff Carr’s ACES model (https://remakinglawfirms.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Univar- Guidelines-and-Procedures-for-Outside-Counsel.pdf) are examples of this approach.

Some of the overarching goals of a panel convergence effort are:

  • “Rationalizing” and “right-sourcing” legal service providers (reducing number of firms and directing lawyers to the law firms (or, increasingly, alternative legal services providers) best suited for types of work)
  • Reducing or controlling costs, including discounts, flat fees, staffing changes, and alternative billing arrangements.
  • Creating long-term relationships with outside firms so they can understand the business and its goals and strategies.
  • Aligning outside firms with legal and business goals, objectives, strategies, and risk tolerance.
  • Maintaining consistent legal approaches
  • Incentivizing outside firms to bring new ideas, innovation, and value to the client
  • Addressing diversity and inclusion objectives.
  • Generating measurable value.

You can probably think of other goals as well.

The results of these efforts are mixed. Reducing the number of outside firms and achieving some kind of price discounting or cost control are probably the most common “wins.” However, my friends in the legal pricing world often say that the discounts tend to be smallish and law firms increase hourly rates to adjust for the discounting.

Convergence efforts are difficult, time-consuming, and can raise all kinds of difficult issues, especially when longstanding outside firm relationships are put in jeopardy. The work on the finalization of the panel can be so difficult that the ongoing follow-up work of pursuing all the benefits of convergence is neglected. I talked to an in-house counsel who said that her law department hadn’t updated the firms on the approved panel in fifteen years.

Other common benefits that seem to take effect are enforcement of entering into specific engagement letters, staffing directives, timing of invoicing, e-billing, and participating in outside counsel management systems.

However, the goals of business alignment, value generation, and innovation often get lost in the process, even though many outside panel RFPs specifically address these issues. Just like firms often answer that they do literally every type of legal work, law departments often let firms get away with saying that they are “great on innovation too.”

In this chapter, I want to take an in-depth look at how panel convergence can, perhaps paradoxically, act as an innovation destroyer if not properly tended, how panel convergence should, if you follow good, often commonsense practices, act as an innovation driver, and suggest some practical action steps for you to consider.

Innovation Destroyer?

An observation, perhaps controversial. Panel convergence efforts do not achieve as much as they could because corporate legal departments do not appreciate the power that they have in what is now a buyers’ market. In simplest terms, outside firms under competitive pressure to stay on a panel or gain access to a panel are more willing to negotiate than you might expect. It is a huge benefit for a firm to get on a panel. If a firm is not on a panel, it is often extraordinarily difficult to get the firm added at a later point. If BigLaw firms will not move enough for corporate law departments, many perfectly capable mid-market regional firms will do so. This buyers’ market observation applies especially to innovation.

There are three points where panel convergence efforts can damage or destroy innovation goals:

  1. RFP creation and solicitation of proposals;
  2. RFP and innovation pitch evaluation; and
  3. Maintenance and review of convergence effort

RFPs

In too many cases, panel convergence RFPs for outside firms run into the hundreds of pages. Even the section on innovation or technology can be lengthy, not on point, and cobbled together from multiple sources. In the worst case, a law department might abdicate responsibility for the RFP language to the procurement or sourcing department.

I’m not sure that inhouse counsel needs to know much more at the RFP response stage than (1) what are examples of what a firm actually has done and are currently working on, (2) what would the firm plan to do specifically for the law department, (3) what people and infrastructure does the firm have for delivering innovation projects, and (4) what data demonstrates the firm’s level of commitment to innovation? If I have answers to those questions, I can probably make a decision about whether a firm passes the initial screen.

When you have lots of detailed RFP questions, you drastically reduce the chance that evaluators, especially lawyers, will read all of them. It’s a simple case of mathematics, especially when lawyers are “voluntold” that they are on the panel convergence project. You also increase the chance that the questions will be too vague, confusing, and even inapplicable.

In other words, they might make things cloudier rather than clearer than you would with a simple and direct approach. If you don’t feel comfortable with your RFP questions on innovation or whether they are working for you, you might want to get an outside second opinion. Similarly, a firm competing for a panel spot might consider the innovative approach of providing the answers to the four questions in the preceding paragraph as an executive summary or infographic.

A second factor in the RFP process is sending the RFP to the right firms and obtaining a large enough sample, especially when the lawyers involved in the process will be advocating for few proposals to evaluate. If innovation is a goal, you could do much worse than starting with the firms on Dan Linna’s Law Firm Innovation Index (https://www.legaltechlever.com/). Look to firms presenting at innovation conferences, firms who have Chief Innovation Officers (https://biglawbusiness.com/new-breed-of-law-firm-execs-drive-innovation-to-next-level), or other indicators of commitment to legal innovation.

RFP and Pitch Evaluations

I see RFP evaluation as a screening process to determine who gets to make a pitch, much like resume evaluation determines who gets an interview. The actual pitch is what gives you the information you need to make a decision.

The process can go very wrong in both places.

The biggest danger at both points is simply taking outside firms at their word. I have no doubt that every single law firm will tell you not only that they are great at innovation, but their future plans on innovation are amazing. Your task is to cut through the fog and obtain data and evidence that you can evaluate and use to make good decisions, or, at the very least, “good enough for now” decisions.

Another danger is trying to make a final decision on the basis of the response to the RFP. RFP responses should only be used to screen for firms you want to make a pitch, which means, firms you want to hear more details from. That is the job you are doing at the RFP evaluation stage.

In RFP evaluations, you might want to get an outside opinion to help you make the screen on innovation. The odds of any evaluator reading the innovation section in each of 50 several- hundred-page RFP responses are not good. That’s not a criticism – it’s a recognition of reality.

If innovation is a goal of your panel convergence effort, you will want not just examples, but you will want to meet the innovation team. It is reasonable and prudent to request that the firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or head of innovation take 10 – 15 minutes of a pitch presentation. Again, depending on your comfort level, this might be a place where you want to get an outside second opinion. You will ultimately make the final decision, but sometimes it’s good to have someone interpret and validate what you are hearing.

And, lest you forget, you will only get the innovation and technology proposals you ask for.

Follow-up and Maintenance

The panel is announced with great fanfare. Committee members are congratulated and get awards and bonuses. Victory is declared and the convergence team disbands.

Wrong! This is when the real work to make the effort a success begins.

There are many best practices you can find: single points of contact, initial meeting of panel firms, annual summits, introduction of outside counsel management systems, standardizing, and streamlining processes, engagement letters, discounts or flat fee implementation, and the like.

What about in the area of innovation?

Not so much, at this point. And that’s why the panel convergence approach can damage or destroy innovation. It’s the follow-up and maintenance that matter.

Let me use a bit of a gardening analogy to describe my approach to implementing successful convergence efforts. First, we need the gardeners : people who are responsible on an ongoing basis for the work and the results. We need to prepare the soil to give the project the best start and continuing growth. We need to plant enough seeds (definitely more than we think we need) to improve the chances of harvest. Watering and nourishing, of course. Eliminating weeds and pests. Pruning to focus and enhance our results. Knowing what to harvest and what to throw away. And preparing for the next season. You get the idea. I’m confident that you don’t need me to explain the metaphors.

It’s hard work that requires constant attention. It’s easy to see how these programs can actually destroy innovation.

Too often, the innovation piece of convergence is vague or afterthought. Innovation can get orphaned, with no person or group tasked with supervising the efforts. Once firms are locked into panels, an “incumbency inertia” can take hold, especially if there is an attitude of being “too busy” with “real legal work.” By the way, it’s vital to screen that attitude out in the selection process if you can. If there is a standard, it becomes what the other panel firms are doing, which can be a reverse incentive. It’s easy for all kinds of incentives to get reversed and misaligned. As time goes on, diversity of ideas and innovation are decreased, because there is a limited universe of firms.

No one would be surprised to find that innovation efforts drop off the cliff after the first year the panel is selected. Concrete and specific plans, follow-up, and roadmaps must be put into place or you will see “drift.” Far too often, no evaluations, measures, metrics, key performance indicators, goals, or objectives are put into place. There might even be confusion at the basic level of what the firm charges for innovation work or whether it should be charged for at all. Are there systems for tracking efforts and results or giving feedback? Should you be using a formal counsel evaluation tool like Qualmet (http://www.qualmetlegal.com/)? Is there even an intake or workflow tool for innovation projects? Annual meetings with demos and showcases should be required.

There are two final big problems I want to mention. And they are very big.

The first happens when a law department doesn’t ask for the innovation efforts or tech recommendations to be made, even if they were part of the winning pitch. The flip of that, of course, is that the firm doesn’t pursue these efforts or take the initiative. And we are back to the gardener analogy and a single point of contact approach.

Second, and most important, there are no consequences for failure to provide the innovation work. Think back, for a moment, to the earlier story about a firm that had not changed a panel in fifteen years. What possible incentive could there be for those panel firms to change or take initiatives? In my legal career, the biggest surprise has been the unwillingness for corporate clients to fire outside firms that are not producing as promised. In this area, I’d be tempted to give the outside firms, as a first innovation project, designing a project workflow system with metrics, standards, and agreed-upon consequences built into it. And then I would challenge you to hold them to it.

Simply put, if you cannot weed out firms that aren’t delivering, you really don’t have much of a chance of overall success. Your panel convergence process will become a place where innovation goes to die. It’s a buyers’ market out there and there are alternatives, including alternative legal service providers.

Innovation Driver

Here’s my radical, but probably not surprising, proposition: properly done, panel convergence can drive your innovation efforts forward, align business goals, enhance collaboration, and achieve innovation wins and meaningful “return on innovation” with measurable value.

There’s a technique in design thinking referred to as “reversal” or “inversion.” What happens if we flip over our assumptions, change the end user, look through the opposite end of the telescope, and, well, you get the idea.

In simplest terms, if you reverse any of the points in the previous section, you start to move down the path to drive innovation efforts forward. Try it out as a thought experiment. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Oh, wait. I do have an even more radical idea. Outside firms should consider providing innovation services for free and part of their offering to be on the panel.

Here are twelve ways that you might consider using your panel convergence project to drive innovation from your panel firms.

  1. Use the panel to make it easy for outside firms learning the company’s business, business goals, and how the law department fits into the business. Encourage them to get an understanding of key problems, constraints, budgets, and objectives. The best innovation will be customer-centered innovation. Everything starts here. How will you make that happen?
  2. Make outside counsel put some skin in the game. Jeff Carr’s ACES approach of putting part of agreed-upon fees at risk if business results and value are not achieved is one example, but how might you incentivize the behaviors you want? It might be as simple as putting firms into red, yellow, or green status on innovation, with penalties for lack of effort or staying in the red or yellow category.
  3. General counsel want to move to new technologies, but typically don’t have the resources to investigate and make those decisions. They want their outside firms to share how made their own technology decisions, their experiences, and their recommendations. There are benefits to having firms and clients on the same platforms, especially on collaboration tools. This “want” is often expressed on the in-house side, but rarely acted on by outside counsel.
  4. Start with staffing and workflow innovations, with an eye on cost savings, efficiencies, and “right sourcing” (getting the work into the hands of the right person at the right skill level and price). Legal departments are concerned about paying huge hourly rates for “commodity” work. Would using a litigation support project platform like ClariLegal, of which I am on the advisory board, generate cost savings and free up lawyer time?
  5. Tracking and monitoring projects should be another priority. Helping address those problem areas will achieve real-world benefits and open doors to future innovation projects. Build on small, measurable successes.
  6. Prune the panel list. You cannot freeze the panel for fifteen years. There should be an easy process for adding and dropping panel firms to reflect goals (e.g. diversity), movement (e.g., key lawyer or group moves to new firm), change (law firm mergers), business strategy (move into new markets or product lines), and the like. It is not a great place for an in-house counsel to be when they have to use old-line panel firms to handle blockchain or other new technology issues. A regular in-depth review should also be scheduled with promises tracked and consequences exacted. There is a huge benefit to firms to stay on a panel list and many firms, especially mid-market firms, would be happy to make better offers and better efforts than the incumbent panel firms.
  7. Measurement and metrics. Innovation is not some airy, vague set of new ideas. Innovation should produce practical results. With a panel, you can collaborate with firms to agree on appropriate metrics and how to track them.
  8. Shared goals and objectives. Aligning the law department’s goals and objectives to innovation efforts is a powerful way to set direction and strategy. If the law department knows the business problems its business owners want to solve, and the outside law firms are aligned to solving those problems, the results can be very good for everyone. Innovation should be focused like a laser on the client’s problems. Innovation is fundamentally a client-centered exercise. If the word “value” is not at the top of your discussion list with outside firms, you should be asking yourself why it isn’t.
  9. Connect the people. I like the idea of having “single points or contact” for innovation efforts, with each firm. Consider at least monthly calls, quarterly design thinking or brainstorming events, and annual “summits” where all of the innovation contacts meet and share ideas and goals.
  10. Thoughtfully implement standard innovation practices that fit your culture: proof of concept and other experiments; design sprints and minimum viable product approaches; a portfolio of approaches; collecting stories to share; identifying the right talent; and building on successes. In certain cases, does a firm or law department want to start its own innovation lab or outsource the use of an innovation lab or design group? What outside help do you need and what work should stay as part of your core competence?
  11. As part of the effort, put into place a system of communication, collaboration, and incentives. What happens if we turn a great idea into a product? How do we make this organic and self-sustaining? How do we measure early-stage benefits?
  12. Focus on the “Why?” first. As I’ve said, a common principle in innovation is answer the “Why?” first, then move to “What?” and, only then move to the “How?” I don’t mention specific technologies much in this chapter, because it will be part of the “how.” Your focus should be on first things first.

Isn’t all of this way more exciting than getting a 15% discount on standard hourly rates?

Practical Action Steps

I want to end this chapter with a bunch of practical action steps. Here are some for you to consider:

  • Make a firm decision that you want to want to use panel convergence to drive innovation in legal services. Start with the “Why?” If you get that question answered, your path becomes so much easier to see.
  • Review your panel convergence RFP, especially on innovation and technology, and simplify, simplify, simplify. What do you want to know that matters? Ask only that.
  • Require an outside firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or innovation team to present as part of the pitch presentation. That is who you will be working with on actual projects.
  • Develop a framework and approach to evaluating RFP responses and pitches. Obtain good data and evidence.
  • Request (or volunteer) to participate in design sprints, innovation labs, or productization efforts with panel firms. Offer your problems and issues as experiments for the firm to work on. There’s no harm in asking if participation comes with no charge. Firms need plenty of client feedback on their own efforts.
  • Find ways to get outside firms to put skin in the game. Be creative and see what else is happening in the industry, and in other professions.
  • Measure activity and create a simple set of metrics and key performance indicators to track. Then act upon them and track your results.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for internal resources who would be happy to participate in innovation efforts. Results will be mixed, at best, if you assign unwilling lawyers to participate.
  • See innovation as a process of experimentation and learning. Some things will work and some will not. You can learn from both results.
  • When in doubt, give people logoed T-shirts. We are all humans, after all.

For outside firms, or those who want to be on panels, use the reversal or inversion method on the practical action steps above and you’ll see your own list.

I’ve become intrigued how an often-clunky existing process with mixed results – panel convergence – can, if properly handled, be turned into an engine to drive innovation. Having vision is important, as is being willing to make hard decisions and do experiments. Panel incumbency should not mean entitlement and tenure. There are many firms, with mid-market firms being especially interesting because of motivation and nimbleness, who are able and willing to step up on innovation efforts to provide measurable value for key clients. Lack of action has consequences. The legal market says that it is ready to innovate. Let’s see firms and law departments prove it.

 

PRO TIP: Outside law firm panel convergence efforts, if properly understood, provide some of the best opportunities for innovation success.

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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CLTI Announcement image

From the press release:

MSU Law’s Center for Law, Technology & Innovation Under New Interim Leadership
Dennis Kennedy will lead MSU College of Law’s Center for Law, Technology & Innovation (CLTI) as its interim director.

Professor Kennedy has been a member of the faculty at MSU Law since 2018, serving as an adjunct professor of law covering topics such as entrepreneurial law, technology, and legal service delivery.

His appointment follows the departure of the previous director, Carla Reyes, in 2020 who led the Center during her time as a professor of law at MSU. The Center’s mission is to develop ways to bring the law to everyone through the work accomplished by law students and other academics in its three complementary arms: the LegalRnD Lab, the Innovation Hub, and the Emerging Technology Research Node.

Professor Kennedy’s vision for the Center moving forward is to build upon the groundwork of his predecessors and to continue the legacy of a program that he’s admired since before he joined the faculty.

Looking forward, I want to continue to raise the bar on performance and increase the CLTI’s visibility, so that any conversation about programs in innovation or technology in law must include Michigan State.

“I want to maintain the momentum of what’s been created because this program is so highly respected and well known,” Professor Kennedy said. “Looking forward, I want to continue to raise the bar on performance and increase the CLTI’s visibility, so that any conversation about programs in innovation or technology in law must include Michigan State.”

The CLTI was founded at MSU nearly a decade ago as the ReInvent Law Program (later renamed Legal RnD) and since its inception it has been enriched by hundreds of alumni who are contributing scholars in the fields of intellectual property and legal technology today.

Thanks to the experiences we are able to offer, our students who emerge from this program are often already known in the legal community and go on to have exciting careers in law, sometimes in areas that haven’t existed before.

Professor Kennedy is eager to continue investing in the Center via the creative alumni and students who are essential to its history and future success. “Thanks to the experiences we are able to offer, our students who emerge from this program are often already known in the legal community and go on to have exciting careers in law, sometimes in areas that haven’t existed before. They’re great ambassadors for Michigan State. Continuing the engagement with current students and alumni is critical to the success of the CLTI.”

Read more about the CLTI.

Looking forward to getting started. And still getting used to being called “Professor.”

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Like this post? Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

LinkedIn Profile. Also, see LinkedIn showcase page for Dennis Kennedy’s books.

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Download my FREE “57 Tips for Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law” (PDF).

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.