Glyn Morris

Projects Partner

Trailblazing transformation in tech

In the golden age of legal technology, one question looms large for firms everywhere: Will this new technology make a difference? It's a multifaceted query, probing the necessity of tech, its usability, value, and its impact on the daily grind.

Enter Glyn Morris, Partner — Projects and former Head of Finance at Higgs LLP, a man who's navigated these waters with notable success. 

With over two decades of experience under his belt and currently at the helm of organisational change at Higgs LLP, Morris is no stranger to professional transformation. Whether it’s spearheading the integration of Aderant into two different firms, co-authoring one of the leading papers on transformation in professional services, building a predictive resource model that got his team on the front cover of the American Bar Association’s magazine, or shattering 140-year-old traditions to become the first non-lawyer partner at Higgs LLP (in the same year, we discover, that the transformation project he spearheaded was shortlisted among the Best of the Best projects in Innovate UK’s annual awards) — it’s fair to say Morris knows about the pitfalls and opportunities associated with change management.

So, as we settle into our virtual chat with Morris, we're all ears to uncover his secrets to getting tech transformation right.

Learning from every call — embracing unexpected insights

“People might stop reading this interview if you print this…” Morris jokes “but it’s important to note that alongside your own professional experience of what works and what’s broken, and a personal enthusiasm for innovation, a really good trick for anyone who wants to get ahead using the latest, greatest tech, is to take the odd unsolicited call from a vendor.” 

“I know that might sound like hell on earth, but this isn’t the 1980’s.” He laughs “The people on the other end of the phone can just tell you what you need to know about their technology in a few minutes — you don’t even have to say anything — think of it as 15 minutes of free learning. What’s the worst that can happen?” 

As a solution provider, we love to hear it! 

Expertise and experience — the foundation of innovation  

“When it comes to transformation, tips and tricks are all well and good” Morris continues “but at the end of the day, every innovation champion I’ve ever met has been someone, or a team of people, who know what they’re doing.”

Morris is at pains to emphasise that this doesn’t mean lawyers have to start understanding how to code, but rather recognise their own experience doing the job they’re doing. 

“Experience is kind of vital” he notes “in the early years of my finance career, I did everything — from bricklayers and pub accounts to tens of millions of pounds businesses — and that experience framed a lot of what I knew worked and what didn’t about the legal sector.” 

Morris reiterates that if you’re doing a job / see a process and something feels wrong, or clunky, or ineffective, it probably is and that’s as good a place to start as any.

Culture and context — the core pillars of change management 

“Once you accept your expertise” Morris smiles “you can start to ask yourself some contextualising questions about improving those broken processes”. For Morris these are the essential backbone to any change management project:

  • Why are we working this way?
  • Who is working this way? 
  • How do the current processes impact us and our clients?

“So many change management projects fail” Morris opines “because the champions forget about the people and processes and just focus on the technology.” For Morris, it’s the wrong way around if you want people to actually use new technology and feel positive about changing long-standing processes. 

“With law” he explains “there are so many subtle nuances that can be counterproductive to change. Whether you’re at a big or small firm, whatever those nuances are, you need to begin by understanding them before you attempt to change them. From there you can start to build a change path in the context of the operational culture of your business.” 

Morris jokes that he’s slipping into ‘business speak’ “but at the broadest level” he continues “if you want to do something massive up here, you need to come down to the lowest common denominator — the individual, the lawyer — in order to actually create a pathway to success.” 

For Morris, it’s the difference between announcing innovation and hoping it’ll make a difference and embedding it, knowing that it will. 

Adoption strategies — collaborative innovation 

Morris recognises another pitfall of change management — the fact it can often happen in a vacuum without the input of the people it will affect. “We know every lawyer is busy” Morris advises “but given a compelling opportunity, my experience is that most people actually want to be part of the change.” 

Morris advises champions and firms to create that opportunity by creating early-adopter groups to act as a crucial sounding board for new technology and processes within a firm. "These groups feel empowering to the people that form them and act as a nucleus that will help you see the blind spots in your technology and implementation strategies."

“It's about building a feedback loop” he continues “when you involve lawyers from the get-go, they take ownership, and that's when you see real, practical input that can steer a project to success." 

This collaborative strategy is not just about ensuring the technology fits; it's about fostering a culture of innovation where everyone feels empowered to contribute. "Change is less daunting when you're part of it" he explains, and we couldn’t agree more!  

ROI redefined — choosing the right wall for your ladder 

When it comes to “pulling the trigger” on investment, Morris explains “the conversation often pivots to everyones favourite acronym: ROI, or return on investment. The metric many use to measure success or justify expenditures.” However, Morris offers a wider perspective on this financial barometer, especially when it comes to innovation in the legal sector.

He cautions against the myopic view that ROI should be the sole determinant of a technology's worth. "You can have the right ladder but up against the wrong wall," he points out, suggesting that even a solution offering great returns may not be the right fit if it doesn't align with the firm's broader goals or needs. "Sure, you need to understand the financial implications," Morris acknowledges, "but you also need to consider how a new technology shapes your practice, influences your client relationships, and positions you in the competitive landscape." It's about broadening the lens through which we view investments, recognising that the true value often lies beyond immediate or medium-term financial gains.

Morris’ metaphor underscores the idea that success isn't just about climbing efficiently; it's about ensuring you're ascending towards the right objectives.

Thoughts on Legl — a case study in user-centric design 

We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t ask Morris about his experience using Legl. He laughs when we tell him that we’ll publish his unfiltered feedback. “Well” he begins solemnly, making us nervous, “it’s the right ladder, the right wall, and the right landscape beyond.”

“Legl understands the problems facing law” Morris explains “it’s why, when I first looked at the platform, I knew exactly what it was and what it could do for our firm. The fact it continues to do more of what we need with each passing year is a testament to how you get innovation right!” 

We could not have said it better Glyn, thank you! 

Staying humble — the essence of innovation 

In a conversation that has thrown up so many quotable moments, Morris is, himself, keen to emphasise his favourite. "I know we all want to think about technology and, particularly AI at the moment, but innovation is so much more than the new, headline-grabbing solution; it's about the people using it." 

"We should never implement technology for technology's sake. But do it to make the lives of lawyers easier, more efficient, and ultimately, to better serve our clients." 

It's a powerful conclusion that serves as a guiding principle for anyone looking to drive change in legal practice: stay grounded, stay focused on the human element, and always prioritise the end-user's experience in the march towards progress.

Here’s to all the innovation champions turning technology into success!  

                                              Key takeaways

Embrace unsolicited learning: "Take the odd unsolicited call... think of it as a few minutes of free learning. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Trust your experience: "Trust your instinct. If something feels wrong or clunky or ineffective, it probably is and that’s as good a place to start as any.”

Culture is key: “So many change management projects fail because... the champions forget about culture — the people and processes — and focus on the technology.”

Start with context: “Begin by understanding [the operational culture]. From there you can start to build a change path...”

Collaborate for better adoption: "Involve lawyers from the get-go... They're not just testers; they're your innovation co-pilots."

Understand ROI beyond numbers: "You can have the right ladder but up against the wrong wall... it's about ensuring you're ascending towards the right objectives."

Legl's intuitive support: “With Legl there was so much support and intuitiveness that I didn’t have to think about it.”