Reed Smith has rolled out a programme that encourages its lawyers to come up with new ideas by recognising up to 50 “innovation hours” that count towards billable-hour targets.

The scheme follows a successful pilot that saw attorneys across the firm devoting hundreds of innovation hours to six projects in 2017. From 30 ideas submitted by lawyers at the firm, six were selected based on a combination of criteria, such as creativity, client focus and cultural change.

“Innovation isn’t just a buzzword at Reed Smith — it is a part of our core values and culture,” said Sandy Thomas, global managing partner. “Our internal teams are provided with unfettered time breach-respondersto think and generate new ideas, and they have the firm’s commitment, facilities, technology and manpower at their disposal to develop these ideas into projects.”

As a result of last year’s pilot, the firm successfully launched its Breach RespondeRS app, which simplifies the application of the patchwork of US state laws to let companies focus on protecting data and preventing further harm. The app was developed entirely in-house.

Other projects included the automating of contracts and documents, providing insight on trends in the managed care industry and working on a blockchain initiative.

“The innovation hours pilot was tremendously helpful and allowed us to develop materials that have truly impressed clients,” said Kari Larsen, co-head of the fintech team, which was heavily involved in leading the blockchain project. “Because of the firm recognising innovation hours toward billable targets, we were able to recruit top-talent lawyers to contribute to these projects, while also increasing their exposure to new tech.”

This year, five projects will be selected for a fast-track, 12-week programme that will be supported by London-based Innovation Hub manager Alex Smith and advisory firm Janders Dean.


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