Crowdsourcing Innovation – One Law Firm’s Experience

UK-based DAC Beachcroft (DACB) is crowdsourcing ideas from across the law firm to develop innovation projects for the business and its clients. Artificial Lawyer caught up with the firm to find out some more.

DACB, which has offices in the UK, US, and also South America, along with 2,500 staff in total, and with a solid reputation for work in the insurance sector, has based its crowdsourcing system called CO/LAB on the Medallia Crowdicity platform. It has been using it internally since the start of the year and people across the firm have now contributed more than 170 separate ideas.

Bristol-based Peter Allchorne, (pictured), partner and Head of DACB’s Innovations Lab, explained what they have done so far and what is the philosophy behind the initiative.

What products / changes have been made internally following the use of CO/LAB so far?

We have been using the platform internally since the start of 2021, so it’s still early days. However, one of the first challenges we issued to our colleagues was around flexible working. This fed directly into Flex Forward, our new approach to how, when and where we work, which is going live in the UK from 21 June. 

We have also launched a new, virtual initiative which connects our senior leadership team with colleagues to gather feedback and discuss business initiatives in small groups. 

We did a quick-turnaround challenge to source a name for our latest AI-powered tool – now called AIDan, and following a great idea from a colleague, sign language was added to the list of languages spoken by colleagues in the firm, making it easier to track down the skills when we need them. These are just a few of the great ideas that have been implemented so far. 

What kind of products / changes do you expect to see now being created for clients?

What makes CO/LAB so great is that we have complete flexibility to use it to solve any problem – legal or otherwise. The possibilities for collaborating with our clients are endless and there’s no predicting where the crowd will go with a challenge. 

CO/LAB also enables us to tackle challenges of differing magnitude due to its functionality. So, for example, we can run time-limited challenges for quick wins and milestone (stage gate) challenges where we can chip away more gradually at complex issues.

Why do this in a crowd-sourced way?

We are increasingly hearing from our clients that they want to collaborate with us in different ways and even on things that aren’t legal in nature.  Understanding their challenges and what will generate most value is key. 

Crowdsourcing enables us to draw on knowledge and experience from beyond one specific client team – depending on the challenge, we can open it up to colleagues across our business and our clients’ to root out new and innovative solutions, rather than just innovating in a vacuum. 

Using the power of the crowd to vote up ideas also provides a valuable litmus test at the idea-generation stage. And it’s fun, interactive and encourages thinking about problems in new ways – all of which helps us strengthen relationships with our clients.    

How does the firm’s Innovation team fit into this?

Many of the solutions and innovations we devise start in the firm’s Innovations Lab, which is headed up by myself. I am supported by a team of Innovation Agents.  

These agents are a mix of lawyers and business support professionals at all levels who are tasked with spearheading innovation initiatives across the firm, ensuring innovation is promoted and championed, and working up business cases for ideas that come into the Lab, as well as shaping and developing the ideas.

DACB also has a dedicated Business Improvement & Change Team, headed by Austin Milne, which leads and enables implementation of ideas and innovations internally within the firm.

All in all, a promising start. And, as you can see, not all the innovation here is about chunky tech projects, but it is often about just improving day-to-day working practices. The added focus on specific client challenges is also commendable.

On that final point, let’s give David Pollitt, Managing Partner of the firm, the last word: ‘CO/LAB is a way for us to facilitate the co-creation of bespoke solutions for our clients.

‘We can add additional value by working together to identify the issues and challenges – legal and beyond – our clients are facing and work with them to navigate change and transformation.

Our clients are telling us they want to work together more with their advisers. CO/LAB is a collaborative community where our respective teams can root out innovative ideas that will make a big difference to our businesses, our teams and how we work together.’