Contrary to the segmenting visible in the Thompson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators report released today, innovation exists in legal services, professional services and in Canada! There is a simple explanation for the exclusion of services industries – the innovation celebrated is based on patent analysis.TR does a great job of explaining the methodology behind the awards – which includes volume of patented inventions, successful patent applications, globalization and influence of patented discoveries.
I love seeing this annual list of innovator awards; success should always be celebrated. I also always have a moment of resentment over the word ‘innovation’ being used in place of invention. It is similar to when the word Library is used for a software application’s lookup table. Word appropriation should be as frowned upon as cultural appropriation darn it.
So, how would we gather a list of legal innovators? Would it be based on writing, technology adoption, legal technology creation, thought leadership, market proliferation, transaction volume, out of court settlements percentage, litigation success, continuous improvement, education, training, firm size, new ways of delivering legal services, better ways of delivering legal services? What do we really mean when we say legal innovation? How could the concepts used to characterize success in invention based innovation (volume, success, globalization and influence) apply in legal or professional services?
Would we use nominations like the Fastcase 50 which is the closest and best equivalent that I can think of for a list of legal innovators. Do all innovators have a public side that would bring them to mind when pairing the words legal and innovation? Are we using innovator in the place of “risk taker”? Fastcase is an example of of an organization devoted to innovating – are we too quick to focus on individuals rather than organizations when legal and innovation are combined?
It is the beginning of a new year which is often a time for goal setting. How will you be an innovator in 2016? How will you measure your success?