R&D Department Responds to Client Preferences and Industry Needs

Demand and pressure on law firms has reached a tipping point. Long gone are the days of “plenty”. Now, for many firms, their biggest threat comes from disruptive innovations spearheaded by new market participants.

So how do firms, who don’t have a strong track record of challenging the status quo, tackle an issue that requires them to think outside the box and get ahead of the competition to address client needs? How can we strive towards Great Law by eliminating sacred cows and proactively learn and innovate?

According to the findings of Law2023, in order to keep up with the pace of change in the field, firms will create R&D departments to imagine offerings that respond not just to technology changes, but also to shifts in client preferences and industry needs.

One firm already being recognized for moving ahead of the pack is Akerman LLP with its announcement to form an R&D Council. With success hinging on the participation and guidance of clients, Akerman has demonstrated an other-centered culture and a “client obsessed” focus. According to the firm, Akerman puts clients at the top of its organizational chart with client needs driving the firm’s strategy.

The firm’s new Council will be comprised of a diverse group including attorneys of various backgrounds, firm management and clients. The group will be tasked with exploring the challenges clients face today and will face in the future and will use a methodical approach to develop new products and offerings that will add value and solve client problems. It is a structured process with expectations of tangible results including:

  • Research and identify micro trends and new business markets
  • Test new products
  • Use technology and business intelligence to proactively address clients’ evolving needs

For many large firms, creating an autonomous council such as this would be nearly impossible. At Akerman’s core however is an innovative spirit that has successfully launched innovation tournaments, learning labs and a formalized Akerman Client Experience Initiative.

Akerman’s belief that they can’t deliver a market-leading experience without understanding what’s around the corner, is an awesome example of not only what law firms in the future will be doing, but also provides another example on the path to Great Law – as they embrace the value of wisdom and authentic relationships, not just the billable hour and profits per partner.