Evolving LegalTech: What's Challenging Innovation In The Legal Sector

Legal tech breakfast roundtable.  

Our recent roundtable event focused on the evolution of LegalTech, bringing together thought leaders in senior positions in legal firms to debate the key influences of progression and innovation within the sector.

Competition vs. client demand - what’s really driving transformation?

Motivations behind digital transformation within the legal sector are often credited to either meeting client demands, or making sure you stay neck and neck with the competition. But is this really the case?

The morjority of our roundtable attendees said that client demand was more influential on digital transformation strategy and decision-making than keeping up with competitors. As well as improving the internal processes of firms, technology also needs to be driven by a benefit to the client.

Solving internal surface level challenges, or simply trying to keep up with the Jones’, doesn’t get to the real root of the problem for a client - and that becomes a future problem for any law firm. Clients have higher expectations than ever when it comes to digital experiences and how organisations engage through tech. Spending money on technology that doesn’t ultimately provide value to clients won’t have the desired impact on scale, profitability and ROI.

But as the complexity of the rapidly evolving legal landscape began to surface within the discussion, a potentially more critical factor came to the forefront of the discussion; cost.

“Strategy and transformation is also impacted by a necessary focus on cost optimisation and value for money.”

Nigel Lang, Fieldfisher

Cultural change and internal adoption

Culture remains high on the agenda in the legal sector, with Almost all of our roundtable attendees citing company culture as a strategic aim or challenge for their firm.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, law firms are still adjusting to the challenges of hybrid working environments, and finding ways to make the radical shift within working culture in the legal sector have a positive outcome.

Leveraging technology to enable more flexible ways of working and improve overall efficiency and productivity is a key element of creating positive cultural transformation within firms. There’s also more opportunities to take an innovative approach to cost saving, looking at ways to reduce outgoings on premises by adopting smaller offices and hotdesking.


There’s already plenty of evidence to support the idea that organisations with strong company cultures perform better financially. It’s been discussed that culture within law firms needs to change to improve working culture across the industry as a whole and attract the next generation of talent  - which makes implementing the right technology transformation strategy worthwhile investment.

And while technology help to drive culture, a great culture also drives future transformation and better adoption. Win win.

Partner pressure 

Partners are a unique asset and challenge to the legal sector, playing a critical role in strategy across technology and business services through both their decisions on client engagement and future work.

During our roundtable discussions, our attendees agreed that Partners are generally required to focus on immediate and short-term ROI - which is often unachievable from an investment in digital transformation strategy that requires a long term view.

When the goals of Partners are at loggerheads with those of the digital transformation strategy, the sector faces a challenge in implementing real change in the way it leverages technology - and could face being left behind if adoption comes too late. This makes Partner engagement and adoption crucial to getting the green light on technology projects and ensuring they’re successful.

“The introduction of a dedicated Legal Delivery team, working alongside IT, has enhanced how our Partners and fee earners input into and drive our digital transformation”

Nick Roberts, Clyde & Co

Communicating transformation and innovation

A successful delivery and adoption of any new innovation requires clear communication of the what, the how and the who.

It’s an even bigger challenge to deliver that message when it seems like there’s no uniform understanding of what’s actually meant by ‘transformation’ and ‘innovation’.

As the discussion between the roundtable attendees turned to the definition of these words, it became clear that there’s no industry standard to communicating what these words mean - or communicating the size, scope and impact of transformation projects.

The word ‘innovation’ appears frequently in modern vocabulary. It’s often high on the agenda for a lot of organisations, but when the perception of innovation conjures up brands like Tesla and Google, it’s understandable that there’s some confusion in the legal sector around what innovation really looks like, and if it’s achievable in the sector.

In reality, technology transformation and innovation strategies for the legal industry will, and must, look significantly different to those of technology-first organisations like electric car pioneers and search engine kings. That’s why approaching communication around tech strategy within law firms deserves more attention when it comes to gaining buy-in and future adoption.


While it’s clear there are some challenges around LegalTech, digital strategy and transformation, the discussion from this event highlighted some incredible insights and shared experiences to support the future of innovation in the legal sector - proving that successfully leveraging technology isn’t just for the tech giants.


Want to join a future roundtable discussion? Please get in touch here.