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Tracking Law Firm R&D Initiatives

My June 2015 blog post Law Firm R&D Initiatives Grow – Time for a League Table? recapped recent large law firm research and development announcements. It asked if the time had come for a Big Law R&D league table. That time has now arrived.

Early last week I published a R&D in Big Law, which lists publicized R&D initiatives in large law firms. I crowdsourced additions and corrections. By week-end, I added a couple of law firms and added a second list for firms with incubators partnerships for R&D.

I welcome suggestions for additions and corrections (contact me or leave a comment).

My list necessarily involves line drawing. Many large law firms have innovated in ways not formally designated R&D. Examples include AI, Big Data, legal project management (LPM), and knowledge management (KM). By focusing on formally announced R&D initiatives, I establishe a reasonably bright inclusion line.

Typical league tables rank law firms. And I would love to find a way to rank the success of law firm R&D. Even with data, ranking results would be hard. And I suspect data will be hard to obtain. So for now, simply tracking formal R&D initiatives will have to suffice.

Firms may publicize R&D successes but likely not failures. That’s too bad. As the ILTA “Failure Party” sessions illustrated, we learn as much if not more from failure as success. And in the world of R&D, failure occurs on the road to success. “If things are not failing you are not innovating enough” said Elon Musk, perhaps America’s best-known living inventor.