Tim Allen, Chief Executive of Busines Integrity, the maker of DealBuilder, pointed me to a new article by the renowned legal futurist Richard Susskind called “Backroom boys lead ‘positive disruption’” in the UK Times Online (free registration required).
Tim noted that the Susskind article talks a lot about Clayton Christiansen’s ideas about innovative disruption, a subject we had discussed in the recent session on e-lawyering Darryl Mountain, Marc Lauritsen and Richard Granat led at the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s fall meeting in Philadelphia.
Susskind’s article references a white paper I recommend to you prepared by the UK Department for Constitutional Affairs called “The Future of Legal Services: Putting the Consumer First.”
The money quote from Susskind’s article:
The top US law firms are hugely and satisfyingly profitable. Accordingly, they seem to be moved to change more by the threat of competitive disadvantage than by the promise of competitive advantage. Without hunger for change, without the worry of being left behind by the competition and, vitally, without clients clamouring for new forms of service, it will be business as usual for the US legal behemoths for many years yet. They will wring every last cent out of the increasingly unsustainable practice of hourly billing and will steer well clear of innovative IT.
Susskind notes that the difference in innovation in UK firms stems from something called “maverick management.” He describes this as:
The reality is that the overwhelming number of innovations (often documented in this column) have evolved from the efforts of mavericks within law firms — energetic, often eccentric, frequently marginalised, invariably demanding, single-minded individuals who pursue ideas that are regarded in the early days as peripheral, irrelevant and even wasteful. But the mavericks persevere and in their dining-rooms or studies at home they beaver away, creating new forms of service for clients. Gradually, their innovations came to be recognised as significant and even client-winning. And soon, everyone claims that the mavericks had the firm’s full support from the outset. A new discipline thus emerges — maverick management. This is the art of nurturing and encouraging mavericks, giving them space to innovate and wrapping some strategy and structure around their innovations only once their ideas have fully gestated. Mavericks are the research and development departments of many law firms.
Important stuff, as is the work Tim Allen is doing. Thanks for pointing out the article and for the great conversation we had on these topics in Philadelphia.

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