Your reputation precedes you

Some law firms can have a reputation for being reluctant to adopt new technology and workflows. The reason for this is often that they are risk adverse, which is appropriate given the nature of what they do.

Teams are confident that the way they have always done things is the way that works – which is hard to argue with. Even if the route to completing a matter is slightly longwinded or labor-intensive, it’s proven and familiar and leads to the right conclusion, which also means the firm’s reputation stays intact.

The question is though, do clients share this risk-aversion to new technology?

Obviously, clients aren’t going to want to jeopardize the outcome of their case or a matter. But, they are going to continue to want more for their money and, frankly, progress. This could ultimately mean that they are drawn to the more innovative law firms, who will get them to the right outcome using the most productive and efficient means - even if that means more automation.

Innovation does build reputations

There is increasing evidence to show that it’s innovation that builds a business’ reputation and creates customer loyalty.

Henard & Dacin’s research (though conducted in 2010) is interesting because their “…results indicate that a high consumer perceived RPI [Reputation for Product Innovation] …leads to excitement toward and heightened loyalty to the innovative firm.”

This indicates that the more a firm is seen to be innovating by their clients, the more excited that client will become and the more likely they are to remain loyal to it.

Avoiding change; avoiding new technology and new ways of working could inadvertently harm a business’ reputation in the long run. Innovative, reliable and trustworthy technology that drives efficiency and elegant working practices will ultimately make a firm better and more competitive.

So, how do you enhance a reputation?

It’s tempting to think this “innovation builds reputation” idea is only applicable to commoditized or consumer products, but that’s not the case. American multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, for example, are number four in Fortune’s 2017 World’s Most Admired Companies list, voted for by 680 companies across more than 50 industries. At its very essence is innovation, as opposed to a product that’s building this admiration.

You may also think that innovation is only lauded and recognized in corporate mega-giants who top the Fortune list – Apple takes the number one spot. But why shouldn’t smaller and mid-sized firms be praised for their innovations; for leading new ways of working; for being thought-leaders at the vanguard of progress? Even Apple started somewhere.

Innovation vs. Technology

It’s not the intention to confuse innovation with technology. Firms can be innovative without that being related to bits and bytes. It’s just that the quickest way to achieve a step-change in productivity or to demonstrate initiative often comes from exploring and using new technology. Automation brings the benefits of speed and efficiency, as well as the perception that a firm is acting differently and is ultimately more advanced. It’s almost like having a unique technology-oriented sell point.

While it may feel like a risk changing practices that have delivered results (through toil and tears) over the years, it may ultimately prove more of a risk to a firm’s reputation if they don't innovate.

PS

For Workshare’s latest innovation used by legal firms to manage their transactions, visit: https://www.workshare.com/product/transact