The annual Legal Innovation Index for the legal industry in Australia and New Zealand was launched relatively recently, in 2013, by LexisNexis® Pacific and Janders Dean. Initially the Index was held together with the Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conferences in Sydney, but the event has now become a force in its own right.
In three short years the Index had become a much-anticipated event of Australia’s legal calendar.
The Index was created to give national recognition, and encouragement, to the most innovative law firms and legal teams in Australia and New Zealand. The Index awards initiatives that deliver uniqueness and value to clients, and differentiate organisations from their peers.
The 2015 Legal Innovation Index was announced earlier tonight at a private event held at Gilbert + Tobin.
The 18 finalists in the organisational category ranged from traditional big law to new, innovative challengers, from Allens to Advent Balance, from Herbert Smith Freehills to LawPath, and from Norton Rose Fulbright to View Legal.
Finalists in the 2015 Index clearly demonstrate the profession’s absolute commitment to continuing to find new and dynamic ways for adding significant and previously untapped value for firms and their clients.
Justin North, Director, Janders Dean
This year’s inductees into the Index were Allens, Envato Legal Team, Gilbert + Tobin, Herbert Smith Freehills, LawPath, McCullough Robertson Lawyers, Norton Rose Fulbright, RMB Lawyers, Sydney Criminal Lawyers and The Fold Legal.
The winners represented a wide range of innovation styles from the client service centric Allens Accelerate program designed to provide legal support for Australian startups, to Herbert Smith Freehills’ introduction of Mindfulness Meditation to increase the effectiveness and focus of its employees, and technological innovations such as LawPath’s legal document automation technology and Sydney Criminal Lawyers’ NSW Pocket Lawyer App, which delivers simplified legal information directly to users’ iPhones.
In 2015 individuals were also recognised by the Index, for the first time. This is a welcome extension in recognition of the significant role individuals play in driving innovation in their profession and the industry.
The winning individuals were:
- Matthew Burgess, the Founder and Director of View Legal, an innovative new legal services provider focusing on online delivery;
- Brennan Ong, Founder and Managing Director of LawAdvisor for creating an innovative cloud-based platform that brings clients and lawyers together;
- Cathy Sherry, Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales for the delivery of an innovative online property law program to law students; and
- Dominic Woolrych, Legal Product Manager of LawPath, one of the organisational winners.
George Beaton’s closing address congratulated end encouraged the innovators and damned those who continue to live in denial about the fast changing legal services environment.
He was impressed by this year’s Legal Innovation Index finalists, representing those firms which are embracing progress with client centric and technological innovations.
In the same breath he derided the completely outdated ‘Who else has done this? We won’t do it until someone else has done it,’ approach he still sees too often in the sector.
George Beaton is known for not holding back, and tonight was no exception. He predicted the halving of partners’ profits in the next five years at firms that fail to recognise the changing landscape and adapt by embracing innovation and a new client focused approach.
He referred to what he termed the now ‘seven-year trend’ of high-end clients expecting more for less. He predicted the trend to continue, leading to the erosion of profit margins at many established firms. He forecast a further five-year period of much the same in which a final shake-out will take place in the legal sector with only one in ten firms maintaining its profitability at current levels.
But he also highlighted that big and old law can behave like new law and stay in the game and continue to thrive, as evidenced by the big law participants in this year’s Index.