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What Can the Founder of Invisible Girlfriend Teach You About Legal Innovation?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 18, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Looking to spur some innovation in your legal practice? Maybe it's time to take some advice from Matt Homann, founder of Invisible Girlfriend, an actual, real-life company that offers a digital version of a real girlfriend "without the baggage." (Don't worry, there's an Invisible Boyfriend service too.)

What's the founder of a sort-of-sad fake girlfriend company know about the law? Well, before he was creating digital fauxmance, Homann was a solo practitioner, and he's dedicated years to thinking about innovation and the law. Homann recently spoke to the Atlanta Association of Legal Administrators about innovation in law firms, and some of his ideas seem worth considering.

Introduce the Thought Experiment

Legaltech News recently covered Homann's Atlanta talk and one of the ideas to stand out the most was that of the "ridiculous constraint." Attorneys tend to be of the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" school of thought. Our profession is based on precedent and is cautious towards experimentation. It's not exactly a "move fast and break things" industry like the tech startup world. Which is good. After all, the things lawyers could break include people's lives and fortunes, not just their Facebook statuses.

But lawyers can still innovate without putting their clients or themselves at risk. Homann suggests setting aside time to engage in hypotheticals that will help attorneys address problems in new ways. But just saying "how can we do this differently?" isn't enough. Add a ridiculous constraint to a normal problem in order to force yourself to think outside the box.

Go Slowly, With Betas

Here's another useful thought from Homann's presentation: you don't have to do things all at once. When firms move to new technologies, there's a tendency to switch everything over at once. But that's not necessary.

Firms should instead experiment with "beta" rollouts, testing changes out in small batches, to see if they work for the firm's business and clients. Going fully digital? Maybe start out in one practice area first. Considering automating some legal tasks? Test it out for a bit.

"It's not top down massive initiatives," Homann said, according to Legaltech News, "it's simple experiments, learning lessons, and partnering with clients that help you figure stuff out."

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