At Kennedy Van der Laan we run a continuous innovation program. We aim to use new insights and technologies to improve our work. We keep a close eye on the latest insights and tools but we also look closer to home. What are the experiences and needs of our lawyers and our clients, and where can we perhaps improve things? In this article, I would like to share some of our insights, which I believe are as valid for the legal department as they are for a law firm.

Food for thought
As legal professionals, we are used to looking at problems from a legal perspective. But lately, more disciplines are coming up that helps us to see legal services differently. The Legal Tech perspective helps us focus on the way in which we and our clients perform tasks, and on the role that technology might play. The Legal Operations perspective helps us to think of legal services in terms of objectives and organization of resources. Finally, Legal Design concerns the way in which we present our legal services to clients, so that they can use them in their work. But all these perspectives also pose a challenge; there simply are too many factors to consider. We therefore consider each of these topics mainly as inspiration, as food for thought that helps us to see new opportunities.

It’s about the experts and the clients
The true focus of innovation is not on the tools that you choose, but on the services you provide. At the very center of any innovation process are the legal experts that deliver the services and the clients that use them. It often takes many discussions to fully understand both of these sides, but these discussions can often lead to insights that significantly improve the way in which legal professionals deliver their services and their clients use these services

Simple services are hard
The best discussions lead to deceptively simple results. Great results follow when the resulting process is clear, all information is communicated clearly, and all technology is easy to use. Great results are not complicated, and we
not aiming for people to say “wow, that’s impressive!”.

“Is that all?” is a better response to get when you have invested much time and effort in simplifying a legal process that used to be explained in a ten page memo, and all the relevant information from that memo is captured in one single visualization. And “is that all?” is also a great compliment when a complex contracting process that required many emails is boiled down to one easy to use online tool. The best legal services are easy to understand and easy to use.

Efficiency last
One final insight is that you should avoid to think of innovation in terms of efficiency. Innovation requires investments. It takes time from you and your team to sit down and reconsider your processes and your results. It takes money to pay for new tools and new designs. And above all, it may take quite some time and goodwill from your organization and your clients to be involved in the innovation process and adapt to new ways of working.
Innovation is an investment. By innovating, you can improve the quality of your services and the satisfaction of your clients. By making services easier to use and making the results easier to understand, you can reduce the amount of mistakes being made and the amount of questions being asked. Innovation may result in efficiency gains, but only if you are willing to invest and are focused on improving quality.

About the author

Dr. Jelle van Veenen

Dr. Jelle van Veenen is innovation manager at Kennedy Van der Laan and co-founder of Dutch Legal Tech.