In a recent interview with, Mike Haven, the new president of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), referenced the importance of innovation in legal providers, and how innovation was more inherent to Alternative Legal Solutions Providers (ALSPs), saying: “ALSPs, their business models are built on innovation, so that’s what they are really all about.”

But what does that mean? What is defined as innovation in this context, and what is about ALSPs that make them “built for innovation”?

What is “innovation” for legal departments?

In a Q&A with legal technology provider Summize, Johnson Hana’s Director of Legal Solutions, Emer Durkan was asked whether “innovation is more a buzzword than a reality for many lawyers”. Her response was:

“It’s a question of how you define innovation – we look at everything through the lens of – does it make sense, is it practical, will it save time or money while delivering quality, is there a better way?

Even though it may be a bit of a buzzword, you can call what we do innovation given we are disrupting the status quo and challenging the old ways of working and delivering services.

We recognise that innovation doesn’t stop with generating an idea. That’s why our innovation is practical and delivers, we work with our clients to develop a process, implement a technology, right through to executing the project successfully. We’re not just in it to brainstorm and then take a hands-off approach – that’s why our method of delivering innovation really works.”

Innovation as a mindset, not as a solution

We take a “requirements first” approach. That is to say considering what is actually needed, and then selecting and shaping technologies or process changes to deliver precisely that outcome.

And that sits at the core of what innovation is for Johnson Hana.

With every client, we start off with a clean slate to get a clear picture of what their requirements are.

Our solutions are built around repeatable legal processes, but that doesn’t mean that there is a one-size-fits-all solution.

For example, in another recent article, we wrote about how we bring a project management approach to large-scale conveyancing projects.

The principal argument we make in that article is that conveyancing has generally always been approached in the same way, with a legal advisor at the centre of the process. But by taking a fresh approach, and applying project management methodologies to mass conveyancing projects, we can bring significant efficiencies and allow the myriad of different stakeholders to each play to their strengths.

Including innovative technologies

Often, when there is talk of innovation, technology springs to mind. And this is justified, to a degree. There are range of genuinely innovative legal technologies out there.

One of the three key pillars of Johnson Hana’s offering is technology, and we provide guidance and support for many clients as they use technology to bring efficiency to their processes.

In fact, we recently wrote an article on exactly that topic, which can be read here: How does Johnson Hana use Technology?

So, final answer, is “innovation” just a buzzword?

In short, no.

It seems fair to come to the conclusion that, although “innovation” is sometimes used as a buzzword, it can also be used to describe genuine improvements in the way things are done.

While this often means using new technologies, it can also be as simple as looking an old problem in a new light.

This is something that Johnson Hana, as an Alternative Legal Solutions Provider does by default, and is why, as Mike Haven of CLOC mentioned in his interview, ALSPs are built for innovation.