69% of all law firms and legal services suppliers fail to offer innovation, their clients tell Acritas

In a ground-breaking piece of research, legal market experts Acritas have been investigating how innovation in the legal industry is evolving, based on first-hand experiences of over 2,000 senior in-house counsel.

Despite a huge industry that has evolved around promoting innovation in legal services, this latest research from Acritas suggests much of it is falling on deaf ears.

According to Acritas, a staggering 69% of US corporate legal departments believe they haven’t seen any of their law firms or legal service providers innovate in the last 12 months. However, not all are failing their clients, a minority of suppliers are demonstrating innovation and Acritas’ investigation reveals wide-ranging levels of sophistication.

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.”

Lizzy added: “More basic levels of innovation can be made more impactful with new and different approaches, for example document management systems delivered through an app or warning notifications added to contract management systems.

“Some law firms would benefit from a better understanding of the changing legal landscape, both in terms of solutions and providers and have an innovation plan. However, most law firms simply need to do a better job of communicating to their clients the innovations on offer.”

“Innovation isn’t always about technology. It’s about having an entrepreneurial mindset and looking for ways to do things differently. It demands people with that drive and a supportive culture that allows people to try things and accommodates the failure that always attends invention.”

On the client side, as legal departments have grown, they to have begun to invest in innovation and are now overtaking law firms. 41% of US corporate legal departments have innovated internally – that is slightly less than the average for legal departments globally (43%).

Acritas’ research explores: where innovation is happening; who is driving innovation; what types of innovation exist; and most importantly, what the implications are for in-house teams and for a modern law firm.

Acritas has also evaluated the changing landscape of legal service providers; the rise of the Big Four and other consultancies, and their threat to – and differences from – the traditional law firm.

Lizzy added: “It is technology or knowledge providers that are leading innovation in the market currently. As more people look to embrace innovation in terms of investment and behavioral change we will continue to investigate approaches and practices to inform strategic thinking and measure successes.”


Acritas’ Sharplegal research study provides scientific evidence on innovation in law to support both global, country, industry and practice-level strategy development. To find out more please visit acritas.com/innovation


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