As Chair of the College of Law Practice Management InnovAction awards, I am delighted to announce the 2013 recipients. Two law schools and a new model law firm earned distinction for their innovation and imagination. Join me in congratulating the University of CA, Irvine School of Law, Michigan State University College of Law, and Riverview Law, as the three recipients of the coveted 2013 InnovAction Awards.
For the ninth year, the InnovAction Awards have recognized outstanding innovation in the delivery of legal services, demonstrating to the legal community what can happen when passionate professionals, with big ideas and strong convictions, resolve to create effective change. The judges were greatly impressed by the groundbreaking submissions from law firms, law schools and companies. The winning entries exemplify not only innovation, but the practical necessity for bold ideas to benefit multiple stakeholders. This year’s winners reflect an admirable clients-first approach. Here are more details on each recipient:
University of CA, Irvine School of Law Consumer Protection Clinic, The California Monitor Program. Key Team Members: Professor Katherine Porter and Michael Troncoso
Consumer protection laws are notoriously under-enforced, constrained by not only the availability of legal services and government resources but also by the difficulties of consumers to frame their problems in legal terms. Restrictions on class actions also have limited the incentives for lawyers to analyze consumers’ problems in a collective framework. The California Attorney General appointed Professor Katherine Porter to be a watchdog for the landmark National Mortgage Settlement. Porter, an expert in consumer law, took a novel approach to ensuring consumers got the rights set forth in the Settlement. The California Monitor Program built from scratch an innovative system for how government responds to consumers seeking help. These innovations produced results for struggling homeowners and provoked major changes in bank policy. With a nimble team of a half-dozen young attorneys, Porter developed a custom database, created personalized response letter templates, and devised a powerful complaint escalation process. The framework transforms a layperson’s story into data fields for legal analysis, leveraging consumers’ complaint into robust enforcement tools. This is a replicable, scalable model for providing consumers with legal help and strengthening public enforcement of consumer laws.
Michigan State University College of Law, ReInvent Law Laboratory. Key Team Members: Renee Knake, Assoc. Professor of Law, MSU Law & Co-Founder, ReInvent Law; Dan Katz, Asst. Professor of Law, MSU Law & Co-Founder, ReInvent Law
The market for legal services is undergoing serious transition, presenting both possibility and peril. We believe four pillars of innovation will save our industry: Law+Tech+Design+Delivery. Legal expertise alone is no longer sufficient; lawyers must understand how to utilize technology and principles of design/user-experience to deliver services to untapped markets through new models. Cultivating these pillars is our goal at the ReInvent Law Laboratory, launched in spring 2012. We are doing this in several ways. First, over the past year, we have held multiple free, open conferences bringing together thought-leaders in the fields of law, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship around the world in London, Dubai, and Silicon Valley. Hundreds have attended the standing room only events, with our Silicon Valley event even trending on Twitter. Second, we launched a series of new courses for law students and practicing attorneys—E-Discovery, Entrepreneurial Lawyering, Lawyer Regulation and Ethics in a Technology-Driven World, Legal Information Engineering, Quantitative Methods for Lawyers, and Virtual Law Practice. Additional courses planned include topics such as project management, legal analytics, economics of the legal market, design thinking for lawyers, and artificial intelligence and law. Third, we are building new tools for delivering legal services, beta-testing emerging legal technologies, and supporting start-ups in legal services.
Riverview Law, Creating a New Model Law Firm
The UK’s Legal Services Act of 2007 was designed to “promote competition, innovation and the public and consumer interest” and served as a catalyst for new business models to deliver on this promise. While the market’s attention was predominantly fixed on the opportunities for individual consumers, one group of executives in an HR services business (AdviserPlus) believed a significant opportunity also existed in the commercial law arena. Presented with several alternatives for entering the market, the decision was taken to start with a blank slate and to build a new organization from the ground up. Unencumbered by legacy technology systems, cultural baggage, or the constraints of existing operational structures, the founding team had the luxury of approaching the market with an open mind and asking questions such as What do customers actually want?; How do we best configure ourselves to deliver it?; What kind of people and behaviors do we need?; and last but by no means least, What technology is required to support it? Drawing on principles more typically taught in business schools than in law schools, the team developed a streamlined fixed-fee business model around the answers to these questions and officially launched Riverview Law in February 2012.
“Future survival of a vital and contributing legal profession now depends on the innovative, unstuffy thinking of a few individuals and organizations around the world. It is the mission of The College of Law Practice Management to shine a spotlight on extraordinary thinking and impressive implementation to illustrate what can be accomplished when firms dare to take a risk.” said InnovAction judge Thomas S. Clay, consultant, Altman Weil, Inc. In addition to Mr. Clay, the other InnovAction award judges included Ida Abbott, principal, Ida Abbott Consulting; Patrick Lamb, The Valorem Law Group; Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, Astin Tarlton/Attorney at Work; and Tony Williams, Jomati Consultants LLP. Additionally, Raymond Bayley, Novus Law joined the judging panel this year. Novus Law received an InnovAction Award in 2008.
The awards will be presented on Friday, October 4, at a special session during the 2013 Futures Conference, held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the College of Law Practice Management in Chicago, IL.
The College of Law Practice Management (the College) is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1994 to honor and recognize distinguished law practice management professionals, to set standards of achievement for others in the profession, and to fund and assist projects that enhance the highest quality of law practice management. The College and its Fellows inspire excellence and innovation in law practice management by:
- Honoring extraordinary achievement
- Developing, exchanging and disseminating knowledge
- Stimulating innovation in the delivery of legal services
About 2013 InnovAction Awards
The College continues its global search for ingenuity in law practice management. Designed to inspire creative thinking in a field known for its over-reliance on precedent, the InnovAction Awards are intended not only to identify effective innovation but also to inspire it through international recognition.
About 2013 InnovAction Sponsors
Attorney at Work
Practical Law Company
ABA Law Practice Management Section
International Legal Technology Association (ILTA)
Mattern & Associates
Altman Weil, Inc.
Association of Legal Administrators
Legal Marketing Association