Law Firms Embrace the “Drivers of Change”

Several of the people on this list have won the support of their law firms for bringing about radical change, despite their lack of a law degree.

Even a practicing lawyer can have a hard time convincing their business that it needs to change, especially if it is profitable.

These ‘change makers’ say they need to find a balance between standing out through innovation clusters or bringing ideas outside the law, and gaining trust by building relationships and empowering people in the field. whole company.

FT Innovative Lawyers Change Maker award winner Caroline Firstbrook did just that and garnered policy support by showing partners how a more business mindset can produce immediate and long-term results.

Profiles compiled by RSGi researchers and FT editors. “Winner” indicates that the organization has won an FT Innovative Lawyers Europe 2021 award

Winner: Caroline Firstbrook

Chief Operating Officer, Clifford Chance

First an engineer then a strategic consultant, Caroline Firstbrook joined Clifford Chance as COO six years ago. She has set an agenda for radical change and is now leading the business professionals, or “lay people”, within the global firm, including those in finance and human resources.

One of her first jobs was to bolster the business discipline she had seen in her previous workplaces, including Accenture, the business consultancy firm.

It was not an easy task: legal partnerships are often more tolerant of idiosyncratic behavior among employees. When Firstbrook showed bosses at Clifford Chance that new measures like recording billable work within 48 hours could save up to $ 65 million a year, they were convinced. The company has seen a 60% increase in profitability since Firstbrook joined Firstbrook. His next plan for billable hours is to get rid of legal services.

Ben Allgrove, partner, Baker McKenzie

Ben allgrove

Ben Allgrove, who heads Reinvent, the innovation arm of Baker McKenzie, recently took on the title of Chief Innovation Officer.

He divides his time between legal practice, where he is an expert in digital media and technology, and driving the adoption of technology from contract review and ediscovery tools to more forward-thinking projects.

One example is a collaboration with SparkBeyond, a specialist in using artificial intelligence to solve problems. Baker McKenzie uses this technology to forecast M&A volume and help find new clients. So far, the pilot projects have been successful.

Marc Barron, partner, Taylor Wessing

Marc Barron

Mark Barron has spent 20 years helping provide the vision that has helped his company be recognized as a technology leader. He was the founding partner of his Silicon Valley office, winning clients and making good use of what he had learned upon his return to London: to apply the innovative approach of a tech start-up to culture and to Taylor Wessing’s operations.

Barron established a team of 50 “innovation ambassadors” across the company and introduced the ideas of design thinking. The team has set up Closing Folders, a transaction management platform and an app called Eureka, which is used to organize new ideas. Out of 50 such ideas generated in its first four months, eight became projects.

Gerrit Beckhaus, partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Gerrit Beckhaus

Gerrit Beckhaus is the founder of Freshfields’ Associate Innovation Program, which assigns associate lawyers to clients and assigns them to find better ways to deliver legal services.

He launched Freshfields Lab in 2019, which he now runs alongside his partner Lukas Treichl. The innovation arm of the company aims to develop technological solutions to customer problems. Among more than 30 of these solutions is a simulation tool that quantifies exposure to mass complaints and a notification platform for data breaches. These solutions combine off-the-shelf products with the company’s proprietary technology.

The team ensures that proprietary components are reproducible and scalable.

Eileen Burns, Chief Digital Officer, Arthur Cox

Eileen Burns

Previously a consultant at Accenture, Eileen Burns joined Arthur Cox in 2018. Since then, she launched a consulting branch, implemented a new digital strategy and initiated a digital transformation program within the firm.

So far, Arthur Cox has deployed new ediscovery services as well as a platform that responds to data subjects’ access requests. ACScribe, the firm’s document automation system, dramatically reduces the time lawyers need to create draft contracts. Thanks to Burns’ new approach, the associate review system now includes credit for time spent on approved digital projects as part of their billable hour goals.

Matthew Doughty, Group COO, DWF

Matthew Doughty

The Covid pandemic hit DWF hard in the last quarter of its fiscal year, until April 2020, resulting in two profit warnings and a drop in the share price.

At this point, Sir Nigel Knowles took over as Managing Director and Matthew Doughty was appointed the company’s first COO. Doughty has developed a 100-day turnaround plan, focusing on combining basic legal advice with access to its Mindcrest and Connected Services offerings: all three are now offered to clients as a single service.

Doughty’s efforts have contributed to improved group revenues and a rise in the share price, as well as bringing new customers to the company.

Karyn Harty, partner, McCann FitzGerald

Karyn Harty


As a lawyer specializing in commercial litigation, Karyn Harty has carved out a niche in Ireland by encouraging greater use of technology in the law.

In 2015, it received Irish court approval for the country’s first technology-assisted document review, when lawyers had to review 1.8 million documents for one case (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation v Quinn). As the first use of the technique in Irish courts, it was controversial as many Irish companies had large and profitable manual review teams.

Harty founded and heads the Legal and Technology Solutions division at McCann Fitzgerald. This involves implementing the firm’s digital strategy and helping colleagues find new ways to deliver legal services.

Ben McGuire, Managing Director, Simmons & Simmons Solutions

Ben mcguire

Fifteen years in the British Army have enabled Ben McGuire to help people make changes. In his role as chief innovation officer within the company for the past five years, he has convinced the partnership to invest in experimentation.

Solutions, the firm’s innovation group, includes ediscovery services, legal engineering (with Wavelength, the legal services company it recently acquired) and technology product development. McGuire worked with lawyers at the firm to develop new revenue-generating services, including a tool that assesses the risk of trademark infringement and one that facilitates cross-border data transfer. The group achieved a turnover of £ 18million last year.

Chris Tart-Roberts, Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer, Macfarlanes

Chris Tart-Roberts

Chris Tart-Roberts created the firm’s legal technology team in 2016, transforming it into a paid practice area that deals directly with clients.

The 20-person team comes from a variety of disciplines including data science, product development and legal practice.

Services offered by the team include Vantage, which uses AI and data analytics tools to help financial institutions transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), and Bastion, a suite of tools for to family offices which combines contract management, data analysis and project management.

Comments are closed.