27 Jan 2022

Linklaters assigns 'brand primacy' to tech platform CreateiQ ahead of internal startup Nakhoda

UK magic circle firm to focus on scaling up contract automation tool ‘as both a product and a brand’

Head shot of Shilpa Bhandarkar

Shilpa Bhandarkar

Linklaters’ contract automation platform, CreateiQ, is assuming brand primacy over its longstanding in-house tech start up Nakhoda as the UK firm looks to scale the product following its launch in February last year. 

The shift in emphasis sees Shilpa Bhandarkar, who was appointed CEO of Nakhoda after founder and former CEO Partha Mudgil left the firm in February 2020, become CEO of CreateiQ, which was developed by the Nakhoda team.

Her job title was changed in December and while she also heads up Nakhoda, which maintains it status as a cross-functional group looking to develop new products, the firm’s marketing is focused on CreateiQ, which sets out to automate the contract negotiating process for in-house legal teams.

“Around 90% of my day-to-day interactions with clients are related to CreateiQ, so it seemed logical to transition our focus to CreateiQ as both a product and a brand,” she said. 

In its first year of operation, CreateiQ has attracted nearly 30 companies in the Fortune 500 and six of the 10 largest banks by assets. It has a team of around 20 personnel including software developers, product managers and marketers.

The team includes high-profile YouTube vlogger Eve Cornwell, who earlier this month moved across from being a junior lawyer to taking up a full-time product manager role at CreateiQ. ‘I think this officially makes me a woman in STEM!’ Cornwell, who has 374,000 YouTube subscribers, wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Bhandarkar spent two years as Linklaters’ global head of innovation before becoming Nakhoda’s CEO. She began her legal career at Linklaters in 2003 and stayed for three years, later re-joining the firm in 2008 as chief operating officer for India and becoming business manager for the firm’s Africa network in 2015. 

She re-joined Linklaters a second time from her role as legal network director at London-based legaltech firm Lexoo in 2018. 

Nakhoda hit the headlines last summer when Linklaters and Mudgil successfully defended claims of sexual harassment brought by a former paralegal who had been on a three-month contract at the startup. All the claims were dismissed by a London employment tribunal after the case went to a hearing. 

Earlier this month, Linklaters also embarked on a drive to build a team of specialist practice innovation lawyers tasked with improving efficiency and the quality of client service under the leadership of a new global head of practice innovation.

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