Michalakopoulou, Kalliopi (2020) Innovation Adoption as a Vehicle for Operational Efficiency Enhancement in the Legal Service Management. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Law firms face difficulties when trying to adapt to the rapidly changing technology and increasing customer expectations. Since the deregulation of the profession in countries such as the USA and the UK most law firms have been under constant pressures to reconsider the future of their service provisions and redefine their business model. The law sector is heterogeneous, inefficient, overcomplicated, conservative and far from maximising potential but remains one of the most critical backbones of the global economy that has been severely understudied.

The existing scarce literature has yet to develop a theoretical and empirical understanding of the barriers hindering innovation adoption, which is a driver for positive change, and how legal services could overcome them in order to stay competitive in this dynamic environment. The purpose of the Thesis is to fill in this important research gap, employing a two-phase mixed-method study consisting of in-depth interviews and a quantitative survey with legal professionals. This process enabled the author to identify and examine in-depth and breadth their working experiences and informed attitudes about how legal firms operate today.

The qualitative data collection consists of 53 semi-structured interviews that were conducted with legal professionals in seven countries to explore their day-to-day operational challenges and identify the barriers that hinder and the opportunities that promote innovation adoption in the legal sector. A data intensive thematic analysis identifies six key themes. The six themes that emerged from the thematic analysis are: human factor and culture, client and market, technology, organisational transitions, legal processes, and education. These are key areas for legal firms that reflecting and affecting their capacity to innovate and improve their operational efficiency.

A quantitative survey completed by 106 legal professionals working in 19 countries, explored further these key areas using descriptive statistics and regression analysis modelling. This part of the work focused particularly on elements referring to human factors and process change, technology and knowledge transfer as these were identified as factors associated with solutions that could advance legal business growth.

The Thesis contributes to the state of art by: i) contextualising each of the themes outlined herein with an emphasis on describing their diverse underpinning dimensions; ii) developing an evidence-based conceptual framework that critically assesses legal innovation uptake barriers and opportunities for efficiency enhancement; and iii) advancing the theoretical and empirical understanding of law service operations demonstrating the rationale for legal firms to invest in technology, multidisciplinary education and training for their human capital, and to adopt leaner, hybrid and more client-driven management approaches.

FINAL THESIS - Michalakopoulou.pdf - Accepted Version
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