Skip to content

Insights |

Creating the sweet spot for behaviour change

A cloud graphic that says mindset changing

Did you kick off 2021 with a New Year’s resolution? Studies show that only 8 per cent of people achieve their New Year’s goals. As we approach the end of February, I wonder how many of us have already begun to abandon the promises we made to ourselves less than 60 days ago. Diets may be dropping off, training plans paused, and new hobbies haltered. Such failed projects and the plethora of research available points us to a resounding conclusion: behaviour change is really hard.

Those of us working in the LegalTech market know this only too well. Encouraging lawyers to adopt new working methods can be a real challenge. But it is possible, and organisations can help their employees change by levering certain structural elements. At Legatics, the Engagement Team is responsible for using our own research, experience, and existing theory to work with law firms to support the adoption of new tools.

One theory we use is the McKinsey influence model. According to the McKinsey model, behaviour change occurs within organisations when four key levers are pulled. So here is an overview of the McKinsey influence model and how it can be applied to the adoption of new tech at law firms.

1. Understanding and conviction. – “I know why I need to change.”

When Boris Johnson first told the UK to “stay at home” the nation was obedient. However, as time went on and the messaging convoluted and weakened there was significantly less compliance. In law firms, it is imperative that the lawyers themselves understand why they need to change their behaviour. Whether it be efficiencies, reputation, client pressure, competition or all the above, it is crucial that the explanation for why behaviour change is necessary is clearly and powerfully repeated until lawyers are personally bought in.

2. Developing talent and skills. – “I know how to do the new behaviour.”

Your group must have the skills and talent to perform the desired behaviour. Law firms must ensure that their lawyers are 1) trained in the new behaviour and 2) have easy, frictionless access to support. Developing skills is especially difficult in a time-poor industry, but you can consider workarounds: in-depth training for junior lawyers and high-level training for senior lawyers, drop-in sessions, mandatory training, introducing “innovation hours” or including training during routine practice group meetings in short and sharp bursts.

3. Aligned systems and structures. – “the internal structure encourages new behaviour.”

The structure and systems that govern and measure success within your organisation will encourage specific company-wide behaviours. All software must work and align together but furthermore, as management guru Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured, gets managed”, and it works both ways. Behaviour change must be supported by the social and cultural norms that are embedded within organisations. Understandably, the billing model at law firms causes issues with this form of behaviour change: it is difficult for lawyers to justify hours spent on anything other than billable work. However, start measuring and rewarding innovative behaviour with awards and promotions, perhaps also introducing “innovation hours”, and you will likely see a shift towards innovative behaviour.

4. Role modelling – “I witness others acting differently.”

The behaviour of senior stakeholders is extremely powerful. Every parent knows it is hopeless to try and get your child to eat carrots if you are simultaneously tucking into a piece of cake. Similarly, it is no good senior people in law firms heralding the importance of innovation if they do not start acting more innovatively and using new working methods themselves. Partner sponsorship for new legal tech is crucial and projects are unlikely to be successful without it. But role modelling does not have to be just from the top down and junior lawyers can support in getting such sponsorship: if trainees and associates get to grips with new tools, they too can drive the sharing of success stories and help ease lawyers into using new tools.

In summary, yes, behaviour change is hard, but it is possible. Pulling all the levers discussed will support your firm towards creating the sweet spot for behaviour change. If you made a New Year’s resolution, then I do hope that you are in the 8% of people who are still going strong this February. If not, why don’t you take a moment to think about which lever was not active for you and your goals?

If you are interested to know more about this, or how Legatics can help your firm with LegalTech adoption, please reach out to me at