What Color is Legal Innovation? (by jean-luc delli)

Legal Innovation is Replacing Legal Tradition

Black Friday shopping feels good. This year, I bought brown leather shoes – great value for half price. Their brown shade is fashionable and elegant. Nowadays, you can wear brown shoes at a lawyers’ event and are unlikely to break the rules or upset anyone. Times have changed.


I remember when I started my professional legal career. My colleagues where making jokes about my brown shoes that I wore with a dark suit. It was a time when lawyers dressed in black suits, dark ties and – always – black leather shoes. This was less than ten years ago.


A couple of year later, when I initiated with a team of professionals a legal skills training program, the jokes turned into a smile and our community started to grow. Young lawyers loved to master foreign languages and it was through the Legal English program that we promoted a new skill-set and started to train lawyers in practical legal skills. I don’t think we were trendsetters. However, we were probably in the right place, though not (yet) at the right time.


This all happened during a time when lawyers were trained with legal knowledge and risk management skills. Legal education was concentrating on private law, criminal law and administrative law in their application. «T-shaped lawyers» were still rare and young lawyers were often not much trained in entrepreneurship and practical communication, professional foreign languages, technology, and product design for legal services, among other increasingly necessary «T-shaped skills». 


Again a couple of years later, when I was part of a project launching a new series of conferences on trends in the legal market, the challenge of our community was to understand the trends and new developments. The first conference was on future business models for legal service providers as a consequence of digitalization and transformation of the industries. This was in 2015 when not many lawyers in Switzerland have ever heard of «legaltech» and hardly believed in «science fiction». Today, only a short time later, legal innovation has replaced legal tradition and became a new standard and reference for quality.


It seems that now is the beginning of a more fundamental change within the sweeping shift of legal tradition towards the rise of legal innovation. In the vision of empowering the legal innovators of tomorrow, the team of Innovation.Law is now launching the #Laward2018.* Our goal is to enable legal innovation to be seen within a broad community, empowering people with innovation that creates new opportunities and accelerates the self-transformation of the legal industry. Let’s see if this time we are in the right place at the right time, able to inspire, activate and bring together the various (legal) communities in order to illuminate and co-evolve the legal markets with colorful innovation. I cannot wait to see which colors will be trending on the next Black Friday.


* for more information, please visit www.innovation.law/laward