This article is adapted from a series of blog posts originally found in my recently-started blog entitled Legal Evolution. The foundational material set forth in this article (and in those blog posts) applies to the legal services market insights gained from disciplines other than law. This article begins by setting forth the well-established theory of an “innovation diffusion curve” and the research that has identified the factors that affect the rate of adoption of innovations. This article identifies why innovation in the legal services market is desirable and applies to the legal services field insights drawn from this research in other fields. In the course of presenting these theories, the article explains why and how research about things such as the speed of adoption of hybrid corn seed is directly relevant to lawyers and law firms. It also identifies factors that can promote innovation within a law firm and factors that can inhibit innovation within a law firm, including the challenges that firms face because factors that promote the initial stage of innovation may later hamper its widespread implementation. In addition to the discussion of the applicability of the innovation diffusion curve to the legal services market, this article discusses the relevance of work that has been done outside of law to identify when an innovation is likely to “cross the chasm” between early adopters and an early majority and the relevance of Gartner’s work about the impact and stages of “hype.” This article also explains the crucial role that communication channels, such as the Legal Evolution blog, can play in fostering innovation within the legal services market and explains how the foundational understanding set forth in this article can help promote legal services innovation and can help one understand the reasons for the successes—and failures—of legal services innovation.
Although the content of this article originally was published in the foundational posts of the Legal Evolution blog, publication of this article means that my presentation of research from other fields and the conclusions I draw from that research can reach those who prefer a more traditional method of transmission. I thank the editors of Penn State’s Dickinson Law Review for recognizing the importance of these issues and for agreeing to publish this article which does not fit the traditional heavily- footnoted law review format.
William D. Henderson,
Innovation Diffusion in the Legal Industry,
Dick. L. Rev.
Available at: http://ideas.dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/dlr/vol122/iss2/2