Reed Smith Launches 2nd Innovation Seasons Project

Global law firm, Reed Smith, has launched the second instalment of its Innovation Seasons project, which sees the firm focus on a particular subject area with a mix of events, product demos, talks by experts, and internal discussions, to engage people across the firm. This time the focus will be on legal design and design thinking. The previous one was on legal data.

Adam Curphey (pictured), Reed Smith’s Innovation Engagement Manager, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘We started this initiative to get the lawyers more involved in innovation. The challenge has been that many lawyers didn’t feel comfortable [in relation to legal tech] as they didn’t know enough to talk to clients about it.

‘We also didn’t want to do things that would see a big chunk of time taken from the lawyers’ billable hours. So, what we do is have a focus on one specific thing where lawyers can see the tech in action.’

Curphey noted he had been partially inspired by legal tech incubators at other law firms. Incubators allow lawyers at a firm to have a ‘hands-on’ experience of new tech and generally act as a catalyst within the business to inspire new ways of thinking about how they work and for finding novel solutions to client needs.

I.e. one could see the overall approach of Innovation Seasons as seeking to get maximum engagement with technology and new approaches to how the lawyers think about their work, but with minimal disruption to everyone’s time, and also not having to set up something as long-term and resource-heavy as an incubator.

Curphey added that the Seasons project operates in parallel with the Innovation Hours system the firm put in place some time ago, which provides lawyers with the chance to allocate some billable hours toward creative projects they’d like to work on.

The second season has now kicked off, and one of the first speakers has been the well-known US academic, Margaret Hagan, Director of Stanford Law School’s Legal Design Lab.

Overall the Season will comprise ‘demonstrations, case studies, recordings, and other materials hosted on the firm’s intranet’. Curphey added that Gravity Stack, the firm’s affiliated legal tech development group, will also be playing a part. Curphey also noted that because a lot of the Season’s material is recorded this allows everyone across its multiple offices around the world to watch it.

They have also made a short video about design thinking, as part of this project, (see below).

Produced by Reed Smith.

At the end of the season the idea is that the innovation team will support people internally with formulating ideas and converting them into formal projects.

The second season builds on the success of the first, which comprised six live events focused on legal tech and data, and which attracted almost 900 attendees in total, almost evenly split between the firm’s lawyers and business services professionals.

These sessions led to new client-facing innovation projects that made use of the firm’s Innovation Hours mentioned above, and ‘built new connections between the firm’s lawyers and innovation team’.

Overall, it looks to be a very useful endeavour, which enables engagement, but without all the resources required for a full-scale legal tech incubator programme.

One last thought Artificial Lawyer had was: how will they make use of legal design?

Curphey concluded by saying that legal design would help the lawyers to better understand matters such as building tools that matched the needs of the end users.

As an example he mentioned how the firm had worked on a tool for procurement teams to assess data risks, and as it was not designed for lawyers they had to ‘put themselves in the shoes’ of the procurement professionals to really understand the design needs.

And as to what’s next, subjects such as document automation are being considered, but planning on that is still evolving.