Is your department innovative? This is the question being asked by Inside Counsel, a magazine for in-house legal departments.
Why is innovation important?
The answer, in a nutshell, is that innovation is what enables organisations to remain competitive. It's transformational in nature, enabling step changes in productivity (as opposed to incremental improvements). It's what drives progress. And in corporations, innovation is just as important in the legal function as in sales, procurement or HR.
What is not innovation?
Many in-house lawyers are under the misconception that beating their external law firms over the head about hourly rates constitutes innovation. (Funnily enough, one of last year's submissions was a "patent-pending method for forcing law firms to lower their rates.") Another common approach is to shift work from top tier providers to chepear firms or regional offices.
Focusing on billing rates and cost cutting isn't innovation. All it does is lead to bill padding, poor service or both.
So what is innovation?
Real innovation involves finding new ways of doing things. And sustainable innovation can only be achieved by revamping and automating key business processes. What are the major activities and processes in your legal department? Is contract drafting/review/negotiation up there? If so, how effective is your current process? Have you ever analysed it? Could it be made cheaper, faster or less risky?