This is a guest blog by Hire an Esquire COO and Evolve Law co-founder Jules Miller.

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” –-Charles Darwin

Evolve_LawEvolve Law, an unprecedented collaboration between 20+ legal innovators with a.mission to accelerate the adoption of new ideas and technologies in the legal profession. Though the legal industry has historically been slow to change, it is at an inflection point. Evolve Law is highlighting the new technologies, processes, and people who are helping the legal industry walk upright in our new tech-enabled world.  

Evolve Law is unique in that it’s being built and run by independent legal tech entrepreneurs, law firms, attorneys and law schools working together. Some of us compete or overlap on occasion, but the biggest challenge right now is Crossing the Chasm of technology adoption with lawyers, so we are joining forces to accelerate the pace of adoption.     

With that in mind, we are encouraging attorneys and businesses who hire attorneys to take note of what’s happening in the legal industry and do three things:   

Stop: Why are you doing things this way? 
Fall is a good time of year for self-examination. Take a moment, step back and reflect on your legal practice. Software is eating the world and technology is radically changing every industry. Why aren’t lawyers using more technology?  

In the report “Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed” by Dr. Larry Richard, lawyers have several personality traits that deviate from the general population, and one in particular is likely driving the aversion to technology. Lawyers are natural skeptics. Consistently the highest scoring trait, lawyers rated in the 90th percentile on skepticism. This can translate to success when a skeptical eye and risk aversion protects clients, but it also means that lawyers are unlikely to be early adopters of new technologies and processes.  

As Charles Darwin noted, “intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing things that they need to survive.” How can you be smarter and more efficient in your own practice or business?  

Collaborate: Why is the legal industry different?  (Spoiler alert: It’s not.) 
Nearly all businesses are now embracing technology to compete in the new era of digital Darwinism. Most of the time this technology can not be developed in-house, so companies partnering with smaller, more agile innovators who can create these new technologies faster.

As Evan Burfield, co-founder of Washington DC’s 1776 incubator states in his post on GE’s Ideas Laboratory blog, “collaboration with startups is the future.” In fact, the 2014 GE Global Innovation Barometer survey reports that 85 percent of corporate respondents said that collaboration with startups and entrepreneurs will drive success for their organization in the future.

Lawyers in particular have been slower to embrace collaboration with emerging legal tech startups – maybe it’s that natural skepticism – but this is changing. For example, AM Law 200 Firm Davis Wright Tremaine (DWT), Evolve Law’s founding law firm partner, has started using several emerging legal technologies, including Hire an Esquire. “We are excited to be the first law firm to join Evolve Law’s community,” said Jay Hull, DWT’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Supporting those who are moving the legal profession forward by embracing and leveraging new technologies is important, and we look forward to others joining us.”  

Clients are naturally selecting the firms and companies who are faster, better and less expensive in providing their product or service. In a highly competitive landscape, lawyers who can incorporate technology into their practice by collaborating with startups have a better chance of survival.  

Listen: Do you know what’s out there?
If there is a problem, entrepreneurs will solve it. There is an enormous amount of innovation happening in the legal industry, especially around (non-eDiscovery) technology, but you may not be aware of it. In a services profession like law where your people are your product, if lawyers are not adapting there is a real danger of being left behind.    

To help legal professionals adapt, Evolve Law has created a Legal Tech ToolKit to map out the legal tech genome as a resource for attorneys who want to integrate more technology into their practice but may not know where to start. As my favorite quote from Darwin states, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

To learn more about Evolve Law and how you can be part of the community, email or visit the website.

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