Law 2023 Update #6: Have firms launched R&D departments to create new offerings?

by Deb Knupp /

For the next several weeks on the blog, we’re going check in on the progress of predictions made by the groundbreaking guide to the future of law firms, Law 2023. Check out all our updates here.

We’re halfway to 2023. Let’s check in on how research and development is evolving within law firms.

The prediction: The variety of demands on law firms will lead to a new diversity in the way legal solutions are conceived, packaged, sold and applied. Some of these novel legal products will immediately find vast markets; others could take years to catch on or turn out to be false leads. To keep up with the pace of change in the field, firms will create R&D departments that use product development methodologies to explore new ways of practicing law.

Where we are today: Many people were skeptical that law firms would ever devote resources to R&D, but today we see it happening.

What it looks like so far: A number of firms now have innovation committees, R&D groups, and product development groups to embrace innovation, like innovation incubators and think tanks. The importance of this push has come into focus for a number of firms. Firms who are still on the sidelines calling this a passing fad are being left behind. The key to meaningful development is to look at innovation as something other than just shiny apps or new technology. Real innovation is how we engage clients in those moments of truth through client experience.

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