Last week, Prof. Dan Linna of Michigan State University College of Law and his students released and intriguing new Innovation Catalog and Law Firm Innovation Index, jointly titled the Legal Services Innovation Index. I view this as important and pathbreaking work and encourage readers to visit the website and use the Catalog and Index. When I say “use”, I mean it. Both the Catalog and Index are Tableau tables. Tableau is data analytics and visualization software that allows multiple views and visualizations.

The Catalog and Index represent, in start-up terms, a minimally viable product (MVP). MVP means it solves some problems but needs work and plans exist for improvements. The current Phase I goal is “to add to and improve legal-industry discussions about legal innovation and technology”. I applaud and share this goal.

I had a similar goal in mind when I published my R&D in Big Law list in June 2015 (which gets a shout-out on the Innovation Catalog page as a consulted source.) The Catalog lists innovation categories. The Catalog entries are based on human research and literature review, looks at many recent innovations such as alternative fee arrangements (AFA), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and incubators. It also includes some older approaches such as document assembly and “information management”.

The Catalog also tabulates which law firms offer which each Catalog entry and includes other important information. Scanning the Catalog by firm, I’m pretty sure I can identify some missing law firm entries. So I suggest that every firm review this list and, if they have a product or service that meets the criteria, click the link at the bottom of the the Innovation Catalog page to submit it. (Note that I have included the Catalog as an embedded Tableau object below. And below that one static screenshot in case Tableau does not render for some readers.)

The Law Firm Index, which is not a rating, is a word count, albeit a rather sophisticated one. Prof. Linna’s team conducted advanced Google searches of large law firm websites to count the number of hits of words relating to 10 areas of innovation. Areas include AFA, legal project management (LPM), and AI. The Index website lists the search terms for each Area (e.g., Knowledge Management – “knowledge management” OR “knowledge engineering”). The methodology section discusses at length the potential limitations of word counts as a proxy.

This project has huge potential; I am eager to see it progress and, again, encourage readers to participate. Prof. Linna explains future plans:

“Plans for Phase 2 and Phase 3 include surveying clients and requesting that law firms provide information about their innovation efforts and technology usage. Future additions to Phase 1 may include additional objective measures, such as the number of project managers, legal solutions architects, technologists, data scientists, and other professionals a law firm identifies on its website and whether the law firm has a chief innovation officer or a person in a similar role.”


Finally, I am not the first to blog about this. Prof. Bill Henderson (Indiana University Maurer School of Law), at his Legal Evolution Blog, wrote a post, The Legal Services Innovation Index. He offers interpretation and commentary on both the Catalog and Index.

My goal for now is simply to get the word out. And to hope that this is the first step to both quantify and motivate law firm service delivery innovation.



I includes here some additional information: (1) The Law Catalog portion of the index, based on Tableau. (2) My Saturday morning (26 August 2017) Tweet of the index. It was ReTweeted and Liked far more than most of my Tweets. That suggests high interest in the subject. Or that legal innovators spend too much weekend time at devices 🙂 A screen shot of follow-up Tweets follows my initiating Tweet. (3) A static screen shot of the Law Catalog that shows the Catalog count of innovations



August 26, 2017

Here is a static image of one Tableau visualization from the Catalog: