Linklaters sets out to build specialist team of practice innovation lawyers

Global head of practice innovation role created as UK firm seeks out lawyers who can ‘champion new tools and ways of working’

Linklaters has embarked on a drive to build a team of specialist practice innovation lawyers tasked with improving efficiency and the quality of client service.

The initiative is being led by Greg Baker, who has been promoted to the new role of global head of practice innovation from his position as lead innovation lawyer for the corporate practice.

According to the firm, innovation lawyers ‘are aligned with and embedded in specific practices, working side-by-side with lawyers and their clients’, combining ‘their legal experience and an appreciation for how technology and enhanced processes can deliver efficiencies on client work’.

A spokesperson said the firm had already deployed some innovation lawyers and was now looking to expand the team to cover additional practice areas in offices across the world. However, the firm declined to reveal how many innovation lawyers it currently employs or the number it hopes to recruit.

Baker characterises himself as a ‘lawyer, technologist and legal engineer’ in his LinkedIn profile, and the firm is seeking to recruit lawyers with a similar skill set.

The job description for practice innovation lawyers includes a requirement to ‘champion new tools and ways of working’ collaborating with an array of other professionals including partners, associates and members of the legal operations, technology and marketing teams.

Isabel Parker, executive director of The Digital Legal Exchange and former chief legal innovation office at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, said: “Increasingly, law firm clients – including the legal function – are working in multi-disciplinary teams and adopting agile principles and structures. The practice innovation team that Linklaters is establishing is likely to be a response to this, and will play well with clients.”

Noting that Linklaters is deploying dedicated innovation lawyers as opposed to the more common practice of seconding associates under an “intrapreneurship model”, she pointed to a recent report by Georgetown Law Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession and the Thomson Reuters Institute warning of a dramatic rise in associate turnover.

“The 2022 State of the Legal Market report showed that associates are looking to reduce their commitments to non-billable activities,” she said, “which include innovation and exploring alternative delivery models. Given the current pressure on large law firms, there is likely to be even less lawyer bandwidth and appetite for activities that are not directly revenue generating.”

Baker has been working as an innovation lawyer in the Magic Circle firm’s London headquarters since 2018 when he joined from White & Case, where he spent 10 years as an associate in the US firm’s banking and capital markets practice. 

His new role includes chairing the firm’s innovation steering group, a collection of partners and senior business leaders who ‘provide strategic direction on innovation priorities and investments for the firm'. 

“We are harnessing ideas from around the firm and from other industries to make tangible improvements to both the client experience and the lives of our lawyers,” he said. 

He cited Linklaters’ contract automation platform, CreateiQ, as one of the new tools deployed by the firm to enhance the experience of both clients and lawyers alike. 

“I’m looking forward to continuing the transformational work with our practices across the globe, including with our expanding cohort of innovation lawyers, to think creatively about the needs of our clients and our firm,” he added. 

Examples of new products deployed over the last year include MFNiQ, an automated tool for fundraising deals, and Atticus, a web-based document verification platform, which has been implemented in its London and Hong Kong offices.

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