How to Become an Innovative Law Firm with Virginia Clegg, Senior Partner, DAC Beachcroft

Digital transformation needs to be supported by a culture of innovation. When asked how law firms were fostering this culture, for Virginia Clegg, Senior Partner at DAC Beachcroft, it meant starting with the firm’s cultural principles in order to enable an environment conducive to innovation. At DAC Beachcroft, becoming an innovative law firm starts with being:

  • supportive
  • creative
  • clear
  • determined

An Innovative Law Firm Values Collaboration

Perhaps most importantly, innovation is not just a top-down exercise at DAC Beachcroft. Virginia described their multidisciplinary innovation lab. “People come together with business services colleagues, and often with clients, to develop innovative products,” she said. One recent example is a litigation executive bringing forward an SMS product: “95% of people will read a text within three minutes and respond within 90 seconds. So, we delivered a quicker turnaround time for insurance clients.”

Her firm has also launched a business improvement and change team. “It’s mainly populated by specialist project managers who corral supporters and make the investment case for innovation, and innovative products that we have,” she said, pointing out the need for a team of delivery people since ‘ideas’ people might not be good at building the business case.

Celebrate Innovative Lawyers and Team Members

Recognition and reward are also critical to encouraging an innovative law firm. “We celebrate when people bring things through that make a difference. Our litigation executive has been to our conference, has won awards – she has been recognised,” said Virginia, emphasising the importance of publicly acknowledging who came up with the innovation. Innovation also depends on being allowed to fail: “Allowing people to bring ideas through and, if they don’t work, to fail and not feel as though as they shouldn’t bring these ideas through.” The rewards extend to collaboration activities. “When we consider our highest level of remuneration, examples of collaboration are talked about. The number of people achieving higher remuneration because they are collaborators has increased over the last two years,” she said.

Consider Clients

DAC Beachcroft also develops products for client use. Virginia singled out how providing real-time data has been an area of particular difficulty for the sector. “Lawyers are experts in the provision of legal services but we also hold data. The sector has not traditionally been good at processing the data and turning it into products that make sense for clients. For example, we can analyse how long it takes for cases to run; you can work out how long it takes from instruction on a lease to lease completion. That’s what clients want to know – how do we trim that down for them? Where are the sticking points?” said Virginia.

And Virginia expressed optimism about the opportunities opened up by the unprecedented disruption of 2020. “This space has enabled us to innovate beyond anything that we’ve seen in the past, and we will hold on to the good we have seen. It’s great to be able to drop onto something like this for an hour, and easier than trying to gather a huge group together,” she said.

If you aspire to become a more innovative law firm, explore our resources here, receive updates, and request a place at our 2021 Alternative Legal Management Summit.

Virginia Clegg

DAC Beachcroft
Virginia Clegg has been the Senior Partner of DAC Beachcroft LLP since November 2015. She was previously Regional Senior Partner of the firm's Leeds office from 2010 to 2015.