Kennedys hires former government adviser to lead data transformation drive
Antonio Acuña, honoured for 'services to transparency and open data', joins in new role as head of data strategy
UK insurance specialist Kennedys has hired a leading UK data specialist as part of a bid to improve its use of data for business intelligence purposes.
Antonio Acuña MBE joins the firm in the newly-created role of head of data strategy and brings a decade of experience advising central government, including serving as the head of data strategy at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Kennedys said Acuña is expected to reimagine the way the firm manages and uses data, ‘enabling lawyers to quickly access meaningful insight to help them and their clients and to maximise global connectivity.’
His role will build on reporting analytics and insight, skills and literacy, governance, curation and asset management, as well as engineering, innovation and product development.
Martin Stockdale, the partner responsible for overseeing Kennedys’ data transformation project, said: “Our goal is to have augmented intelligent lawyers with data-driven solutions to free up our experts to deliver their service seamlessly, whilst at the same time ensuring our global business remains connected and communicating effectively.
“We’ve already made progress, but we want to replicate that across our global business and that’s where Antonio comes in. His expertise and enthusiasm will ensure that data is not just part of Kennedys’ vision but part of our DNA.”
Acuña spent two years at IT consultancy Parity Group as director of commercial delivery prior to joining Kennedys and earlier in his career led the launch of data.gov.uk, the first website dedicated to helping people find and use open government data.
He also designed and delivered Defra’s ‘Noise Mapping England’ project, which used interactive maps to show the impact from road and rail networks in a bid to tackle noise pollution, and in 2018 was awarded an MBE for his services to transparency and open data.
On his decision to join Kennedys, Acuña said: “I am passionate about change, particularly when it’s driven by data, and I believe Kennedys has a unique opportunity to transform the way legal services are delivered.
“It’s a competitive industry and it’s not enough to simply modify or adapt anymore. Businesses must be bold, to reimagine and embrace new ways of working.
“I’m really excited to be joining Kennedys and to be a part of that culture change, which I know will deliver huge benefits to everyone.”
In a bid to find a new approach to delivering legal services, Kennedys has positioned its lawyers as expert strategic advisors who work with clients to optimise their businesses
The firm said that was the driver behind its strategy of helping clients use lawyers less, which last year saw it hive off its new law-type activities into a separate entity named Kennedys IQ that it characterised as a tech-driven company akin to ‘Kennedys, without the lawyers’.
The firm has shrugged off the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, posting its highest ever global revenue figure of £264m for the 12 months to the end of April, an 11% increase on the year before.
It has also continued to expand its footprint around the world, opening in San Francisco at the height of the pandemic last year and debuting in Canada through its association with Canadian insurance-focused law firm Doldens. It set up shop Israel last October after taking on the former partners of Israeli firm Zelichov Ben-Dan & Co and this year has opened in Leeds, Perth and Oman.
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