This week’s Legal Innovators California Profile is with Matthew Beekhuizen, Chief Pricing and Innovation Officer at US law firm Greenberg Traurig (GT), who will be speaking at the landmark legal innovation conference in San Francisco on June 7 and 8
– When did you first hear the term ‘legal innovation’ and what did you think at the time?
Several years ago at this point, not long after ‘legal project management’. In my view it was the first true effort to take a holistic approach to improve the delivery of legal services, combining people, process and technology under one discipline. Much progress has been made, but much still to do as technology continues to evolve. I’m looking forward to the day it is no longer called ‘innovation’, it’s just the normal way we do business.
– What is your role now?
I am responsible for both pricing and innovation at GT. Both groups are cross-functional teams including financial analysts, reporting specialists, programmers, project managers, data scientists, researchers and technology product specialists. The teams work most closely with GT attorneys but interface directly with clients as well.
– Why did you move into this field?
My first role at GT was in operational finance and eventually I built out the pricing function. During this time I always worked closely with our technology and project management teams, and the innovation team as it developed. In the pricing function I’ve seen first-hand where clients experience pain around cost or efficiency, and the experience and resources of our innovation team are a way to address the pain points. So pricing and innovation are very complementary and have been a good fit to consolidate the teams’ leadership in one role.
– What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Solving problems for our clients and our attorneys. It’s satisfying whenever we can use process or technology to make it easier for our attorneys to get the job done, or sometimes to accomplish tasks that otherwise would not be possible.
– If you looked into a crystal ball, how much do you think the everyday practice of law would change in the next five to ten years, especially given changes in AI?
I expect dramatic changes in the day to day. Machines will eventually take over the low-level, routine, non-value add work that still must be done. The promise of AI is to make it effortless to engage with the technology. Think verbal instructions in natural language instead of having to call the programmers or project managers to make something happen.
– What are the biggest challenges legal innovation now faces in the current climate?
Technology is evolving rapidly and there is a significant investment in new tools by both start-ups and well-established organizations. Evaluating and vetting these tools for functionality, compliance, security, and selecting for adoption can be challenging when change happens this fast. Additionally, it can be difficult for law firms to standardize around specific solutions as each of their clients may select a different tool to solve the same problem. So law firms must be versatile.
– And what are the greatest opportunities now for change across the legal sector?
Competition will drive adoption. Clients are actively looking for technology solutions that will improve efficiency and reduce costs. Those solutions can come from in-house, third-party vendors or law firms. I believe those pressures will cause law firms to adapt and embrace new technology.
– And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the field of legal innovation and legal tech?
Be sure to understand the business side of law. Legal tech is very much an applied science. To be truly successful, you need to understand the business problems that need to be solved, then figure out how people, process and technology can address the issue at hand.
Thanks Matthew! Look forward to hearing you speak at Legal Innovators California, June 7 and 8 in San Francisco.
If you would like more information about the event please see here.
And to get tickets for the landmark legal innovation conference in San Francisco this June please see here.