Law Firm Innovation with Nick Rishwain (Part 1)
It’s no question that innovation is an integral part of a company’s growth and success. The legal sector is not an exception, since the current demand for legal services shows virtually 0% growth. Law firms are expected to constantly think of new ways to make their services stand out and more beneficial to their clients. For the longest time, we have associated “technology” to “innovation”. But, is investing in legal technology enough for law firms to become innovative?
dealcloser had an opportunity to interview legal tech advocate Nick Rishwain to talk about utilizing legal technology in the law practice and the small ways law firms can be innovative. Here’s the first part of our interview.
dealcloser: How do you define law firm innovation?
Nick Rishwain: I would imagine it’s much like any other business that needs to innovate. Technology for me is a big portion of the innovation. Leveraging the technology to do your job not necessarily faster, but better and more efficient. If that means your eliminating your fax machine which is used heavily in law firms and you’re going to web-based fax receipt or the faxes come through your email so that you’re not having to walk to pick up the fax off of the fax machine and the actual hard copy, instead you’re going to get a digital copy of fax- I would say that’s one form of innovation. Using plugins in your Microsoft Outlook, if you’re using Outlook opposed to Google Suite, that’s also a form of innovation. When I was in a law firm as an associate and as a researcher, I was actually writing down how much time I spent on something and we’ve come a long way from that. If you’re using any digital based solutions that are tracking your time for you, not only tracking your time but sending that to your billing solutions -- things like that I think are very innovative. My friend, Ivy Grey, is a huge advocate on using Microsoft Word to its fullest potential. And I think that’s huge because there are shortcuts that I had no idea existed and most people don’t know about like the Ctrl + F shortcut or Find to locate terminology in documents. It’s simple and it’s not even new technology, it’s a feature that has been around for a long time. I think it would be malpractice or could potentially be malpractice not to be using things like that make your job more efficient, easier and quite possibly more accurate. I think items like that would be innovative without spending on the most advanced technology such as Artificial Intelligence. Small things can be innovative.
DC: How important is innovation to law firms?
NR: I think it’s incredibly important. If you’re not innovating then you’re falling behind, and then you’re not competing. I guess it depends on how you define innovation for a law firm. If you’re not using the tools that allow you to work more efficiently, then you’re possibly overbilling your client because you’re spending too much time on something. That’s not good and potentially can be a legal malpractice issue. If you’re not taking advantage of the tools that are available for you, even social media for your marketing and for making yourself more visible, how do you expect to compete with those who even have bigger marketing budgets than you’re ever gonna have? If you’re not using Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, things that are freely available to you to use in creating content as a lawyer, then you’re not innovating.
DC: Does adopting legal technology make a law firm innovative?
NR: Legal technology, on its own, I don’t think is going to be innovative enough. Using word processing tools such as Microsoft Word is not really the most advanced technology but it is a form of innovation. As for legal technology, law firms should be willing to use that technology the same way as legal technology should work into lawyers workflow. If it’s not in their workflow if they have to go and open a different page or open a different window or they have to track it in another location. If it’s not in their workflow then it’s not really helping them.
DC: Do you believe legal technology is a way for law firms to be innovative?
NR: Yes, lawyers really need to be aware of the applications out there, adopting legal technology is something I think law firms and other legal professionals should be doing to improve their innovation.
**Nick Rishwain is the VP of Client Relations and Development at Experts.com (often referred as Legal Tech 1.0), a marketing platform for expert witnesses and consultants. He is also the co-Creator of Legal Tech Live where he gets to interview people who are in the legaltech space and legaltech startups.