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24 May 2021

Baker McKenzie installs team to grow AI capabilities through SparkBeyond partnership

Team will be led by research and development partner Ben Allgrove and two new hires

By Ben Edwards

Ben Allgrove

Baker McKenzie is extending its partnership with artificial intelligence specialists SparkBeyond through the firm’s Reinvent innovation programme following a successful pilot of the technology.

The firm is now establishing a dedicated team led by research and development partner Ben Allgrove to collaborate on projects with New York-based SparkBeyond to combine legal expertise with data, data science and machine learning. The partnership is focusing on three main areas: AI-powered legal services, boosting the firm’s pro bono social impact initiatives through machine learning-driven research and analysis and using data insights to improve the firm’s own internal operations. 

Allgrove, a London-based technology lawyer, said: “Five years ago our industry was flooded with hype about AI disruption. Our oft stated view at the time was that this disruption would not happen overnight, but that it was coming. We have spent the last five years preparing for the technology to mature. We have laid the infrastructure foundations, such as our enterprise data architecture, and we have built our innovation muscle and partner and client buy-in through a market leading design thinking and engagement programme.”

The firm is seeking to hire two additional co-founders to support Allgrove and his team, which numbers 11 in total. The team will design client-focused applications using SparkBeyond’s technology with an underlying aim to reimagine the future of legal services.

Milton Cheng, Bakers’ global chair, said: “This partnership is emblematic of our commitment to innovation and a statement of intent for the future. There is no doubt that artificial intelligence will become an even more essential part of our business going forward and now is the right time to invest in building our capabilities and skills to deploy that technology internally and externally for the benefit of our clients, our business and our communities.”

Bakers first announced the pilot project with SparkBeyond at the launch of its Reinvent innovation arm last October, which is designed to act as an umbrella for its new law programmes. 

Sagie Davidovich, CEO and co-founder of SparkBeyond, said said: “Leveraging Baker McKenzie’s global outlook and footprint with SparkBeyond’s problem-solving technology is poised to disrupt the legal industry across a number of levels.”

Last week, UK Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance unveiled a research and development hub, which aims to accelerate and scale the development of digital products for both clients and the firm’s operations. 

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