PROJECT COUNSEL MEDIA
24 November 2020 (Paris, France) - Clifford Chance is looking to launch a new curriculum to extend lawyers’ understanding of technology and its applications on client matters starting next year.
The course, currently dubbed ‘Innovation Academy’, is being put together by the firm’s innovation team in collaboration with other functions, including graduate recruitment.
The idea is the brainchild of April Brousseau, who was hired last May from her role as Simmons & Simmons’ innovation head to become global lead for Clifford Chance’s Create venture, which is focused on capturing and developing innovative ideas by collaborating with clients and other parties.
The curriculum will provide a foundation on areas such as design thinking, user experience and software infrastructure in a bid to give lawyers the know-how to drive a concept all the way through implementation. While the programme will initially target lawyers, Brousseau plans to extend the opportunity to clients after a pilot.
The curriculum will build on a 2019 initiative, the Automation Academy, which aimed to give trainees and lawyers training around the automation of legal contracts by using a no-code platform. The project was piloted in Asia-Pacific as part of an innovation lab in Singapore launched in 2018 to explore legal technology solutions with the input of startups, companies and academics.
The curriculum is part of a broader strategy refresh when it comes to Create, one of three arms of the firm’s best delivery and innovation strategy, which was launched in July 2018 and overseen by head of innovation and business change Bas Boris Visser.
The other two divisions are Applied Solutions, for product development, and Best Delivery, which is focused on client experience services. Applied Solutions recently hit first-year revenue targets by grossing around £610,934.
Within Create, Brousseau is currently devising a “rapid assessment method” to quickly evaluate the viability and feasibility of ideas pitched by lawyers, with the creation of an execution team in a bid to scale development quickly and avoid letting the concepts stall while in the pipeline.
To extend the scope of ideas trialled by Clifford Chance, in 2021 Brousseau will also launch a series of new “think tanks” to gather clients for events where they will discuss their challenges, desires and roadmaps. They will include clients from the same industry, but also academic professionals and experts to provide context and opinions.
Other firms are investing in ways to bring their lawyers up to speed on the latest applications of tech. Reed Smith has a programme to drive more active participation in the firm’s innovation efforts through new three-month teaching sessions. The programme, called Innovation Seasons, sees three months dedicated to a particular topic around emerging technologies and ways that the legal market is being disrupted.