THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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Survey Results


What does it look like, on the ground and nose to the grindstone, when trying to take your firm to the next step? The inquiring minds at Law Practice Management wanted to know. In April, we conducted an online survey with consulting firm Astin Tarlton to get the real scoop on just how hard it is to innovate and how it happens … when it does. Almost 200 respondents from all types of firms and locations told us the truth about how things work—or not—in their firms.

Survey Respondents by Profession and Position

46% Practicing lawyers
54% Administrators, marketing staff, consultants, clients and journalists
16% Managing partner or other firmwide lawyer-leader
14% Solo practitioners
10% Partner or shareholder
6% Associate or Of Counsel
24% Marketing staff
18% Consultant
7% Administrative staff
5% Other

In Your Experience, Rate the Ease With Which You Believe Law Firms Innovate.

22% Extremely difficult
48% Difficult
29% Sometimes it is difficult; Sometimes it is easy
0% Easy
1% Extremely easy
Note that, in total, 70% said that innovation in a law firm is difficult to extremely difficult.

What Is The Single Greatest Obstacle to Innovation in a Law Firm?

34% Resistance to change
20% No time for anything that isn’t billable
18% Other
12% Precedent-based thinking
8% Politics
8% Perception that it is a profession not a business

Where Are Good Creative Ideas Most Likely To Come From In A Law Firm?

36% Individual initiative
13% The competition
10% Administrator or marketing staff
11% Outside consultants
10% Other industries
13% Other
7% Firm leadership
Note that only 7% identified firm leaders as the source of good creative ideas.

In your experience, what is most important to the survival and eventual implementation of a new and unusual idea in a law firm?*

76% Management support
49% A culture conducive to trying, failing, learning and going on
48% A risk-taking advocate
31% Time and money
12% Good economic times in the firm
9% Guerrilla tactics
9% A belt-tightening period that forces the firm to try something new
6% None of the above

* Here, respondents were asked to select more than one answer.

What Would Best Motivate You To Take A Risk And Try New Things In Your Law Firm?

34% The opportunity to really make a difference
12% Other
15% Recognition from firm management
12% The possibility that I could change the kind of work I do to better suit me
11% Money as a reward
8% Respect as a reward
8% The chance to better balance my life

Note that, in total, 62% rated personal development needs over recognition or money.

Where Do Creative Ideas Come From?

We all like to think that we are the source of the new ideas.

Partners say creative ideas come from:

51% Bottom up
15% Competition
7% Top down
27% Other

Administrative and marketing staff say creative ideas come from:

25% Administrative & Marketing staff
20% Competition
14% Bottom up
12% Other industries
9% Consultants
6% Top down
14% Other

Consultants say creative ideas come from:

35% Bottom up
26% Consultants
5% Top down
5% Competition
5% Staff
24% Other