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Legito Legal Disruptors 2020: Erwin Hanslik, Robert Neruda & Jan Spáčil (panel host)

Jan switched to in-person guests: Taylor Wessing’s Erwin Hanslik and Robert Neruda of Havel & Partners, to discuss law firm innovation and how firms can position themselves to adapt easily to daily changes, competition’s ability to drive innovation, and how to anticipate client need.

After connecting with Laura Bygrave, Jan Spacil switched to in-person guests: Taylor Wessing’s Erwin Hanslik, and Robert Neruda of Havel & Partners, to discuss law firm innovation and how firms can position themselves to easily adapt to daily changes, competition’s ability to drive innovation, and how to anticipate client need.

Erwin begins his talk admitting (via the brutal honesty of his son) that often, and much to our chagrin, we discover that we are not as innovative and technologically savvy as we may believe ourselves to be.  The lesson then, is to never remain complacent, to continue to grow and learn, and stay abreast of the trends.  Law firms cannot survive if they remain a “one-trick-pony”, offering legal expertise in a vacuum. Firms need to adapt and encourage business-savvy lawyers to hone their business skills to understand and better help their customers.

In some ways echoing Nick Hawtin’s prior talk, such business oriented innovations may include closer collaborations with business partners, much as internal legal departments in some corporations team up with aspects of the business to create centers of excellence and expertise.

These types of innovations are crucial if law firms hope to survive in this age of constant disruption.  Robert continues this thread speaking of innovation as an important source of competition, and that usually it is the customer’s need that drives innovation.  So, listening to the customer is essential to thriving in today’s constantly shifting landscape.

Law firm innovations need not be limited to customer interactions.  The internal workings of law firms can also be investigated, such as how lawyers typically advance their careers through the traditional partner track, and determining whether such models are still suited to providing the best service. A close study can be taken at how often talent is sought externally, instead of supporting in house candidates. Another opportunity for innovation is fine tuning how professional relationships are supported within the firm.  Although, on a whole, firms have adapted well to remote working, there is still a general desire for face to face interactions.  Placing a priority on this has many benefits such as possibilities to brainstorm, or simply improve general morale.

Also in question should be the overall purpose of a firm.  Of course, firms are tasked with providing excellent legal services and advice to customers, but they can do more.  As corporations around the globe seek to burnish their ESG credentials, Law firms are uniquely placed (through mainstay policies like pro bono work for instance) to truly serve society as a whole.

Innovation is possible everywhere, even for law firms… sometimes its simply about stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

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