Billie Moore and Jezah Khamisa, knowledge & innovation managers at Slaughter and May, reflect on the genesis and growth of the magic circle firm’s Innovation Network, which provides a forum for clients to share ideas and experiences within the legal tech space.
In the summer of 2021, we launched a dedicated Innovation Network for members of in-house legal and legal operations teams at our client organisations. The Network serves as a forum for our clients to connect and share ideas and experiences within the innovation and legal tech space. We currently have around 90 individuals from across 50 of our client organisations involved in the Network, and this number continues to grow.
Prior to establishing a formal Network, we were regularly in touch with our clients around innovation related topics, including legal tech. When launching our legal tech programme, Collaborate, in 2019, we wanted to ensure our clients were involved in, and benefited from the programme, and therefore created a ‘Client Panel’ made up of six client organisations. In 2020 the panel grew to 12 client organisations, many of whom requested to be involved. We were also often collaborating with clients to offer innovation related training within their organisation.
Throughout these conversations, we recognised common themes, pressures and pain points arising, with many organisations facing similar opportunities and challenges. We felt that our clients could benefit from collaborating with each other directly, with us, and with our lawyers and so we set up the Client Innovation Network to facilitate this. Billie Moore has led the project since its launch.
“Working on our Client Innovation Network over the past year has been very exciting. Through the Network we are able to connect with our clients on innovation and legal tech as a group and offer access to our team’s knowledge and experience, as well as the legal tech suppliers we work with. We have heard from our clients that they really value having the opportunity to learn from us, and each other, and to connect with like-minded individuals.” Billie Moore, pictured above.
When launching the Network in the summer of 2021, we first ran a consultation exercise with a small number of clients to gather insight as to what might be of interest to them and whether they would find value in such a Network. All the clients consulted advised they would welcome this type of networking opportunity, with the majority also indicating their interest in the sharing of market resources and workshop sessions on diverse topics such as agile decision making and how to support the development of emotional intelligence and creativity in teams.
The first offering to members of the Network was an innovation update from the firm, detailing our recent work and upcoming projects, as well as ways our clients can collaborate with us (and us with them!). This update also included a short consultation on what Network members would find valuable throughout 2022 – this was important to us as we wanted to ensure we were offering content that clients were truly interested in and would find valuable.
Throughout 2022, we offered 13 touch points to Network members, including a series of legal tech ‘speed demo’ sessions, co-delivered with legal tech suppliers, Tabled, StructureFlow and Juralio, all of whom are Collaborate alumni. We also launched our third Collaborate Cohort early in 2022 and invited members of the Client Innovation Network to provide input on our cohort selection, providing them with information on the tech companies who had applied to the programme, those we had shortlisted, and our final selection, having taken into account their feedback and views. Many of our fee earners and business services staff take part in Collaborate, offering them the opportunity to collaborate directly with our clients via the Network. We have also invited members of the firm’s internal Innovation Network to broader Client Innovation Network events (below) allowing further collaborative opportunities for our innovation-focussed fee-earners to help support or discuss new ideas with clients in this space.
In addition, the Network has also offered members access to some of our proprietary legal tech assets, the first of which was our Legal Tech Pilot Playbook, designed to provide a guide to planning, running and evaluating technology pilots. It covers the various stages of piloting tech tools, from identifying the need for a solution and initial analysis of the challenge, through to procurement, evaluation, and implementation, and includes a suite of downloadable tools and templates for use in running tech pilots that can be adapted to organisational needs.
More recently we published our Legal Tech Market Map; an interactive map that seeks to highlight the many overlaps between different types of legal technology and their use cases, and sets out some of the market-leading tools, including those we have worked with ourselves either as part of our Legal Tech Toolkit, or as part of Collaborate. We received great feedback on our Market Map from clients and suppliers alike; a Legal COO at a large financial institution commented that “Slaughter and May’s Legal Tech Market Map is an excellent resource for teams like mine and is not something I have come across before. The Map is simple yet effective in an easy to digest format.” The Market Map been viewed over 550 times since publication in September 2022.
Beyond this, Network members benefit from workshops and training sessions on topics including legal process design, digital literacy, and skills for lawyers of the future. We have also hosted various roundtable lunch and dinner events on topics including race and ethnicity as part of Black History Month, and the evolving role of legal operations. These roundtable sessions have been well received by members and praised for the networking aspects too. Janet Morrison, head of legal operations at Diageo attended our legal operations roundtable event and commented: “Great conversation and company. It was good to meet new faces and make more connections.”
With 2023, we envisage that our Client Innovation Network will continue to grow and develop, reflecting client appetite for a forum such as this. Jezah Khamisa will lead on the Network throughout 2023.
“I am really looking forward to working with the team on our 2023 programme for the Client Innovation Network. It has been great seeing our clients connecting with each other on shared interests and goals, and we hope that the Network continues to grow and to serve as a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking.
“In terms of plans for 2023, after the success of our legal operations lunches last year, we are hoping to host another, in addition to a range of training sessions and roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, including developing a growth mindset. We will also be providing members of the Network with updated versions of our Legal Tech Pilot Playbook and Legal Tech Market Map later in the year.” Jezah Khamisa, pictured above.
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