April Brousseau, Andrea Miscolczi and Hariolf Wenzler discussing funds, risks and returns in law firms and corporate legal departments.
In our Innovation Series, we regularly discuss important topics with leading speakers.
Investing in Innovation
The last BRYTER Innovation Series in July 2019 in Berlin shed an interesting light on how different law firms approach investing in innovation. While innovation sounds appealing, is not that so obvious how to invest in innovation with a return. This is what we wanted to discuss with our heavyweight guests who took the time to share their successes and failures with the audience.
There was a recurring pattern that was shared by all panellists which included April Brousseau, Head of Innovation and New Business, Simmons & Simmons, Dr. Andrea Miskolczi, Chief Innovation and Business Development Officer, Wolf Theiss and Dr. Hariolf Wenzler, CEO at Schnittker Möllmann Partners. Not surprisingly, everyone was convinced that upfront investments are necessary to foster innovation within a law firm – though it might be difficult to amass sufficient funds within traditional law firm structures to actually kick-off significant initiatives.
The approaches of the three speakers where different – describing different approaches to initiate innovation in a law firm in general.
Simmons & Simmons, probably one of the most advanced law firms in legal innovation (underpinning their ambition with the recent acquisition of Wavelength), established a legal innovation team within their law firm that is able to act with great autonomy as long as an ROI can be shown – which seems to be the case. The legal innovation team at Simmons & Simmons uses this freedom to push innovation initiatives ahead focusing on client-facing, revenue-generating projects.
Innovation needs to start with innovative culture.
Wolf Theiss takes – according to its Chief Innovation and Business Development Officer – a different approach in starting initiatives and projects to embed an innovative and creative mindset within the law firm first. Several projects tried to align the whole law firm to think outside the beaten path and to try new things – even if some projects fail.
Hariolf Wenzler described vividly that investing in innovation is a long-term endeavour.
Now successful companies have invested for years in their digital strategy before their new projects flourished or they generated significant revenue. This means – according to Hariolf Wenzler – also that an ROI in legal innovation is not a short-term pursuit but a longer journey that will benefit those who started early and persevered through difficulties.
The panel discussion was followed by an open discussion and networking until late that day.
April Brousseau is the Head of Innovation and New Business at Simmons & Simmons. April is an experienced knowledge and information management leader with a background in library science, law and innovation. Before moving in to the field of knowledge management and legal technology, April worked in private practice for several years specializing in public law litigation and administrative law. April has since led knowledge functions in firms internationally.
Andrea Miskolczi is the chief business development and marketing officer at Wolf Theiss. Her extensive international experience in the legal market ranges from legal advisory experience at Linklaters to devising market-leading business development and marketing strategies at Wolf Theiss.
Andrea has a proven track record in planning and directing business development programs to boost client growth and attract new mandates. She manages the firm’s CRM and marketing activities as well as public relations efforts, enhancing the Wolf Theiss brand identity.
Dr. Hariolf Wenzler ist the CEO of Schnittker Moellmann Partners (SMP), as well as board member of the European Legal Technology Association, He is a seasoned manager in the legal profession, having been with Baker McKenzie in leading management roles, managed a leading German law school for ten years.
Read more. People First, Tech Second: How KPMG approaches legal innovation