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The Innovators: Titus Rahiri, Director at KorumLegal

10 May 2019

LawFest organiser Andrew King continues a series of interviews with key legal professionals with their innovation and technology stories.

What does legal innovation mean to you?

Titus Rahiri

Legal innovation has become a popular phrase in today’s legal ecosystem. Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, defined it best when he said: “Innovation is a change in the process by which an organisation transforms labour, capital, materials, or information into products or services of greater value.”

Legal innovation is about truly doing things differently. It’s a changing of mindsets. It’s offering a new way of service delivery. It’s using technology as an enabler. It’s being absolutely focused on customer centricity – creating value in outputs rather than inputs.

What role does technology play in innovation?

Christensen describes three distinct types of innovation an organisation can engage in: market-creating, sustaining and efficiency. Market-creating innovation creates a market where there was not one before. Sustaining innovation improves existing services and is typically targeted toward customers that are demanding better performance. Efficiency innovations enable doing more with less. Efficiency innovations are about streamlining internal operational processes to improve profitability.

Technology can play a role in all of these types of innovation but it doesn’t define innovation. Having said that, there are a growing number of legal tech companies coming to market globally with suggestions that the legal tech industry is worth more than $16 billion and increasing. Investment and acquisitions in the legal innovation space is heating up as noted in my August 2018 post on Korum Forum, “Are we at the tipping point of the ‘law company’?”

What pressures are organisations facing in the delivery of legal services?

A 2016 Deloitte ‘Future Trends for Legal Services’ report surveyed a number of general counsels globally and asked what they saw as their biggest challenge – doing more with less came out as the biggest challenge (44%). This was followed by rising regulatory compliance pressures (26%), the speed of business (17%) and use of technology (11%).

What developments do you see in how legal services are delivered?

My thoughts align with legal innovator and thought leader Mark Cohen’s analysis that law has two components – law practice and legal services delivery. The latter leverages differentiated legal expertise and shifts many other former practice activities to non-legal professionals, and even machines. Furthermore, new skills including legal operations, process and project management, tech expertise, and data analytics are required.

This practice versus delivery distinction goes far beyond semantics; it is a reconfiguration of the lawyer role and the structural and economic models from which multidisciplinary, tech and process-enabled expertise are provided. At KorumLegal, clients are coming to us for these exact reasons – they want a more efficient and effective delivery model for legal services.

What opportunities has legal innovation brought to you?

Legal innovation has enabled the founding of KorumLegal. As a former general counsel, I was frustrated by the lack of innovative solutions being provided by traditional players – and therefore decided to be the change that I wanted to see. In our early days, we had the support of some forward-thinking clients and a legal consultant community who believed in our product and services. I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people and companies who continue to pave the way for legal innovation – and an awesome HQ team at KorumLegal. We’re shaping the new reality in legal solutions.

What are some of your tips to start innovating or developing an innovative mindset?

Legal services have long been whatever lawyers said they were. Lawyers, not clients, dictated what was required, the timetable for delivery, and the blank cheque cost of their services. Now, legal services are whatever buyers need to solve business challenges. Put yourself in the clients’ shoes. And then ask, how can I do things differently and deliver what the client wants – that’s developing an innovative mindset.

Why is it important for legal professionals to continue to learn about legal innovation and leveraging technology?

If legal professionals and the legal services industry are going to be serious about innovation, the journey must begin with the voice of their customer. If your customer wants an easier to use work product, lawyers should utilise design-thinking principles to develop plain-language tools that empower non-lawyers to be a sophisticated consumer of legal services. This may mean giving your client a flowchart rather than a memo. If your customer wants cheaper legal services, the challenge for their lawyer is to abandon the billable hour and replace it with technology-enabled solutions that are still sold at a profitable price. In the end, innovation is about re-imagining processes to generate value and value is about listening to clients and focusing lawyers’ efforts on clients’ demands rather than the lawyers’ skills.

Andrew King andrew@lawfest.nz is organiser of LawFest, which will be held in Auckland on 18 March 2020. Titus Rahiri will be one of the speakers at the event www.lawfest.nz/

Last updated on the 10th May 2019