For some organizations, an innovation program is a “nice-to-have”, sometimes struggling for time and attention against other corporate initiatives. This is not the case at Linklaters, one of the UK’s “Magic Circle” law firms – which places innovation at the core of its purpose and embeds innovation at the foundation of the firm’s strategy. In this final blog of our three-part series on innovation in the legal sector, learn how Linklaters is transforming legal services throughout the organization by applying collaborative innovation as a utility.
At Linklaters, one of the UK’s five “Magic Circle” global law firms, innovation is deeply embedded in its strategy and at the core of its purpose. With a global workforce of 5200 employees located in 31 offices across 21 countries, Linklaters is a leader within the legal services industry in leveraging collaborative innovation at scale. Our HYPE Innovation team recently caught up with Grant Beecham, Sr. Innovation Manager and head of Linklaters’ Innovation & Efficiency (I&E) Team, who shared insights into how Linklaters approaches innovation and the impact of its innovation program across the global firm. Our final blog in the three-part series “Innovation in Legal Services” captures highlights from our discussion.
Innovation Across Departments
Innovation plays a leading role in transforming many aspects of the firm, including client services, HR and recruiting, employee onboarding, communications, and marketing strategies, and internal business processes. Linklaters’ innovation strategy (and the company’s numerous innovation initiatives) can be examined through the lens of three distinct streams:
1 Technology & Processes
2 Partnership & Collaboration
3 People & Culture
Grant Beecham and the Innovation & Efficiency Team provide guidance and structure, supported by scalable, user-centric technology, to fertilize and nurture collaborative innovation. Linklaters is supported through its partnership with HYPE Innovation, both for the technology that powers the firm’s Ideas Pathway platform and with consultancy and best practice expertise. Ideas Pathway was launched as part of a strategic objective to foster collaboration and share best practices across global practice teams.
Inaugural Campaign Results Instrumental in Covid Response
A key philosophy across the firm centers on the idea that “Work is something you do, not a place that you go”. The first campaign was launched in 2019 and focused on agile working. Over a five-day period, employees in Linklaters’ Singapore office were invited to submit ideas to improve workplace efficiency. The outcome: the campaign generated 43 ideas with 250 comments, with Ideas Pathway proving to be instrumental in facilitating discussions around agile working principles long before COVID-19.
Therefore, by 2020, employees had already built a foundation for ideation and collaborative innovation across its global practice. And having a culture of collaboration already in place – both within the local practice and across the firm - became even more valuable as Covid-19 swept across the globe and firm employees pivoted to a remote office environment. During the pandemic, Ideas Pathway became a channel for employees to connect on workplace issues, including home and work-life balance. One example: a company-wide Family and Careers Network campaign invited employees to share ideas and resources for working parents, including ideas for home-schooling and entertaining their children.
Collective Intelligence as a Utility
At Linklaters, Ideas Pathway is a key asset not only as a channel for collaborative innovation at scale: the platform also plays a central role in supporting change management and culture change across the firm. Linklaters culture of innovation and its adoption of “collective intelligence as a utility” – in which Ideas Pathway is a “utility” to harness insights and teamwork from across the organization – is one of the firm’s strategic differentiators in the legal industry. And the benefits of this approach are seen in the firm’s global leadership position, both externally with clients and strategic partners, and internally in its recruitment, onboarding, and talent management programs. Everyday examples are visible in numerous departments and business functions - in how Linklaters engages with clients, including rethinking its legal briefs and client-facing documents. In how the firm recruits and onboards new employees. Or in how Linklaters shares innovative ideas and industry thought leadership through public channels like its Linkubator podcast.
The firm needs to continuously adapt to changes - in the legal industry (e.g. regulatory changes), in the workplace, and with globalization across markets. This requires Linklaters to evolve and modernize both its approach to innovation and the focus of its programs. Examples include how the firm leverages Ideas Pathways to achieve operational benefits, or how it taps into collective intelligence (beyond the firm) with technology and university partners.
For deeper insights into the strategy, adoption, and culture of Linklaters’ innovation program - including tips and advice for innovation professionals in the legal industry - we invite you to explore the new case study: Linklaters Transforms Legal Services By Placing Innovation at the Core of Its Mission to Deliver Legal Certainty in a Changing World.