Last November I reported on a Richard Susskind article explaining the lack of innovation in US law firms. The situation may be even worse according to a new article by professional services guru David Maister.
In Are Law Firms Manageable?, Maister paints a grim picture of large law firms and their management. As he explains in his blogged summary, Among the ways that legal training and practice keep lawyers from effectively functioning in groups are (i) problems with trust; (ii) difficulties with ideology, values, and principles; (iii) professional detachment; and (iv) unusual approaches to decision making.
The article also contributes further to understanding the challenge of innovation in law firms; a short quote:
In a room full of lawyers, any idea, no matter how brilliant, will be instantly attacked most ideas, no matter who initiates them, will be destroyed, dismissed, or postponed for future examination law firms have a remarkable propensity for half measure, launching poorly specified programs with minimal chance of success .
Lawyers also have a strange view of the concept of risk. In any other business, an idea that was likely to work much of the time would be eagerly explored. [But lawyers will look for a hypothetical where the idea will fail.] There is no greater condemnation in legal discourse than to describe something as risky.
The entire article is worth reading and quite sobering for CIOs, consultants, and other proponents of innovative use of legal technology.
[Strategic Legal Technology]