Every day I read about big and exciting changes in industry. On Monday, the New York Times reported on the huge impact graphene could have in electronics and other industries, Forbes on the first artificial red blood cells that may go into production.
Change happens even in old line industries. For example, also in the Times Monday: Leaner and More Efficient, British Printers Push Forward in Digital Age.
You can read such articles regularly. Homes and appliances gain intelligence. Cars will drive themselves. We have new sources of energy. Medical devices will transform diabetes care. New categories of beverages explode in popularity.
Does the legal market offer the equivalent excitement? I don’t see it in the large law firm market. I do see it in legal tech start-ups (also today, see All rise: The era of legal startups is now in session in VentureBeat).
The legal market could use even a small bit of such excitement. That would take R&D. And customers who appreciate changes that improve service and product. Legal tech start-ups in effect, are the R&D for our industry. But the results of R&D need an audience.
BTI reported last week that on average, only two law firms earn “primary status” at clients. Those two capture 40-50% of the client’s legal budget. How often do these clients switch firms because a competitor offers the proverbial better mousetrap?
If I’m right, a dearth of R&D and the stickiness of existing relationships provides little impetus for innovation and change. Please comment – tell me I’m wrong and why.