22 November 2019

HSF launches digital law group

Herbert Smith Freehills says it is bringing digital and legal skills together as it seeks to serve clients in the face of digital transformation.

By Dr David Cowan

Shutterstock

Herbert Smith Freehills has established a new global, multi-disciplinary group digital law group. The new group is made up of a permanent team of senior lawyers, supported by a rotating cohort from across the firm.

Digitally literate

The firm’s ceo Mark Rigotti explained “Our clients are facing significant digital transformation, and so are we. Our people need new skills to be able to provide our clients with the advice they need in this new, evolving business environment. We know that this isn’t something that can happen in just one part of our firm – it has to happen across the whole business.” He said, “The digital law group is our commitment to up-skilling all our lawyers, wherever they sit in the business, and supporting them with technical experts, to provide advice with an understanding of the opportunities, risks, ethics and regulatory requirements brought on by digital transformation; the more pressing current hotspots being artificial intelligence, data, digital assets, robotics and automation.” The digital law group will work closely with the firm’s alternative legal services and legal operations teams, as well as its global network of lawyers. Mr Rigotti added, “Because digital expertise is increasingly ‘business as usual’, we want as many of our lawyers as possible, including graduates, to participate.” London partner Nick Pantlin, head of TMT & digital for the UK and one of the pioneers of the group said “All future lawyers will need to be digitally literate.”

Smart contracts

One of the key initial focuses of the group will be smart legal contracts. The firms says since all contracts can be made smart, and in time most will be, this complex but inevitable transition will require new skills, new collaborations and new processes. Global head of digital law at Herbert Smith Freehills, Natasha Blycha commented “The next ten years will see an unprecedented level of change in the way legal services are delivered. The primary tool of our trade - the contract - is being digitised.” Ms Blycha added, “If we look at the impact the digitalisation of money had on the financial industry and on the economy, we start to get a glimpse of the enormity of the impact we can expect from the digitalisation of contracts. Our clients will need really informed and thoughtful advice on this - that’s what we’re doing with this initiative.”

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com