May 28, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

Innovation in Law: How Taylor Wessing utilise legal technology

May 28, 2021

Written By Billy Sexton

Innovation in law and legal technology is more important than ever. In a fiercely competitive market, law firms are expected to, at the very least, develop innovative solutions for their client’s business needs and challenges. 

Innovation in law and legal technology is more important than ever. In a fiercely competitive market, law firms are expected to, at the very least, develop innovative solutions for their client’s business needs and challenges. 

For a future trainee solicitor, this prospect of combining the latest technology toolkits with complex legal knowledge should be hugely attractive. AllAboutLaw caught up with Harriet Loach, Innovation Manager at Taylor Wessing, to get a broad overview of how a law firm engages with innovation and technology to deliver bespoke solutions to their clients. 

It’s a fascinating insight and with “the scope to experiment, design and iterate, and be at the forefront of a changing and growing industry”, Taylor Wessing are clearly one of the leading innovators in the field. 

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Innovation Manager sounds like a really exciting role, but what does a typical day involve? 

One of the best things about being an Innovation Manager is that no two days are the same. Generally, I am responsible for five core strategic activities:

- Client engagement: alongside our business development team I am often required to work with our clients to advise them about technology, develop solutions for them or to host workshops and events about innovation and tech.

- Cultural change: it is my job to engage people in innovation through training and development programmes to help to facilitate a culture of innovation at Taylor Wessing. This means designing and hosting training sessions on topics such as Design Thinking or Legal Technology. 

- Market knowledge: a large part of my role is to have a deep understanding of legal technology, including not just using the products, but the complexities around buying, selling and managing them too. More broadly than that, I am required to stay up to date with technological developments that could be useful for us in the future. This takes the form of research, attending conferences and working alongside start-ups and other tech vendors to assess their products.

- Idea management: most of my time is dedicated to managing ideas at Taylor Wessing, this means incentivising people to contribute ideas to the innovation programme, helping people refine these ideas and finally stress test them against key criteria to determine their success. This often takes the form of facilitating workshops/hackathons and designing and running proof of concepts for new technologies.  

- Portfolio management: arguably the most important part of my role is deciding which projects the innovation team allocate time and resources to. Balancing risk vs. reward, "quick win" projects vs. slow moving strategic change, and internal efficiency vs. client focused solutions. 

This means my role can have me analysing the impact of AI on contract review one minute and presenting to clients the next. It’s this flexibility and variety that really excites me. 

Opportunities with Taylor Wessing

Innovation is really at the heart of everything that Taylor Wessing does, but what methods and tools does the firm utilise to provide innovative legal solutions to their clients? 

In terms of methodology at Taylor Wessing we employ a consultative and collaborative approach to developing innovative solutions for our clients. We do have some "off-the-shelf" technology products available, but we have found that the best way to deliver value is to work with our clients to design bespoke solutions to meet their needs. To do this we utilise our legal technology TechSet which acts as a toolkit and contains products from document automation through to collaboration portals. 

How does innovation filter through the firm through to trainee solicitors? Are there initiatives and specialised training available, for example?

All of our trainees are offered training in innovation and legal technology as part of their core induction training. This is updated and deepened as their career progresses. We also run an annual Innovation Ambassador Programme designed to promote this as well. Those who are selected for the programme are put on a comprehensive innovation training programme and are expected to act as the innovation lead for their area. This year we have opened the programme up to our trainees and have created two specific roles for them to get involved. Congratulations to Miles and Callum who have recently been appointed as our trainee ambassadors!

What is your favourite part of your role as Innovation Manager? 

The challenge! The combination of complex legal knowledge, processes and regulation with cutting-edge technology is difficult, there is no silver bullet, but that really gives you the scope to experiment, design and iterate, and be at the forefront of a changing and growing industry.

What is your one top tip to aspiring solicitors as they look to expand their knowledge of innovation and technology? 

Be proactive in developing your knowledge. There is a thriving community of legal technology and innovation events, networks, conferences, and even more publicly available research and articles. Immerse yourself in these resources, seek them out and build a broad network of innovators across industries and organisations. This will help you develop well rounded knowledge of innovation strategy and technology, and you never know you could be building your future client base.

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