Clifford Chance has launched Create+65, an initiative to identify, incubate, test and pilot new legal technology solutions to enhance the firm’s, and the wider industry’s, service offering to clients. Create+65 will bring together venture capitalists, start-ups, product owners and developers, universities and private institutions to share knowledge and develop and test new legal services tools and solutions for real-life business challenges.
Asian-mena Counsel spoke to Kai Niklas-Schneider, managing partner of Clifford Chance about its newly launched Create+65 Innovation Lab in Singapore and its value to in-house legal departments, and a wider value within the Singapore legal tech landscape.
How did the firm decide on Singapore for an innovation lab in Asia, and are you looking at opening in other jurisdictions in Asia?
Singapore has a strong track record in embracing the opportunities presented by innovative technologies and has emerged as an important legal hub in the region.
Our approach is to support the ongoing development of both the firm’s and the wider industry’s service offering to clients, which is why we are collaborating with the Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP), a pilot programme by the Singapore Academy of Law, and value the support from the Singapore Economic Development Board.
Create+65 is an innovation lab that is a part of our Innovation and Best Delivery Hub for Asia Pacific, which was announced earlier in May 2018. We would expect that the learnings and outcomes of the development of Create+65 will benefit the wider legal and business community, including our clients and the legal professionals that work within them across the region. We’ll keep you updated on similar initiatives to be rolled out.
What was the driver to creating an innovation lab in Singapore? There are numerous examples of law firms taking the ‘innovation lab’ approach to developing legal technology. What are Create+65 competitive differentiating points?
Create+65 will play an important role in the firm’s global innovation programme focused on fostering ideas through collaboration, Clifford Chance Create.
The Hub is our regional centre to drive more innovative, efficient, effective and robust client service delivery. We want to promote the latest thinking, methodologies and technology across the industry and challenge enshrined industry norms.
The Create+65 lab — the first of its kind at Clifford Chance — helps us achieve this because it is outward-facing to help drive idea identification, prioritisation and activation. Create+65 will add further momentum to the firm’s pursuit of new technologies that have the potential to create significant value for clients and to evolve traditional law firm operating models.
We see in-house counsel from certain industry sectors requiring more sophisticated innovation and legal tech for their work, whereas there are some in-house legal departments who are just tuning in. How is Clifford Chance working with this varied spectrum of in-house legal departments on their journey towards innovation?
Our clients are at the heart of our global Innovation and Best Delivery strategy and a key reason why we established our Innovation and Best Delivery Hub for Asia Pacific, and now, Create+65.
From our experience working with clients across different jurisdictions, industries and matters, we also see varying levels of understanding and needs, and adapt our application of legal tech solutions accordingly to advance client service delivery. Examples include CCDr@ft, a contract automation tool for clients; an online MiFID2 client regulation toolkit, powered through Neota Logic; and a cloud-based transaction management solution, delivered through Workshare. The firm is also adopting artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve the speed and efficiency of large-scale due diligence exercises.
We use a client-centric approach when designing our products. This means that clients are involved from the outset, sharing valuable feedback and insights throughout the development phase.
In the M&A space we have seen an increase in requests for platforms to help manage the deal documentation. There is a growing design to move away from managing deals with multiple parties over email. To address this, we can configure CC Connect, a secure communication and collaboration platform, for deal management.
Similar to the point above, we are also now moving towards specialist applications that manage checklists online. To support this we have partnered with Workshare Transact. This has been of interest to our financial services clients, who are specifically looking for more efficient ways to manage the collation of conditions precedent. However, recently we have started to explore how platforms such as these could also be used across our funds and other corporate clients.
The use of AI tools, like Kira, remains a key focus, specifically looking at how these can be used to assist with reducing the cost of legal review. However, we are also looking to include tools like this in workflows related to large repapering exercises.
Are there any changes to requirements from the firm’s in-house counsel clients when it comes to innovative legal services and helping them ‘do more with less’? What are some changes to these requirements you have seen in the past few years?
Certainly, being as efficient and effective as possible for our clients is critically important to the way we advise our clients. This means that solutions that are being innovated and adopted by clients have focused on improving tasks such as contract automation, due diligence and document review.
Clients come to us for sophisticated, complex, cross-border matters and legal tech innovation will allow us to focus more and more on the issues that matter most to our clients.
Are your in-house counsel clients involved in any way with the processes at Create+65 to vet or provide insights to legal tech collaborators?
Yes, insights and feedback from our clients and our teams will help us identify opportunities for new tech solutions, as well as inform the ideation and early- to later-stage development of these solutions. The firm and our clients will also provide mentoring and support to companies and organisations we collaborate with.
Are there any specific legal technologies right now that Create+65 will be looking at to foster?
It is still too early to tell. Create+65 is an innovation lab, which means that the legal technologies that are fostered will depend on who joins the initiative and how we collaborate. This is why we are opening up Create+65 to venture capitalists, start-ups, product owners and developers, universities and private institutions.
What factors influence the decision about which legal tech companies to work with?
Our approach is to support the ongoing development of both the firm’s and the wider industry’s service offering to clients.
While Create+65 will be drawing upon Singapore’s thriving start-up ecosystem to help us identify, incubate, test and pilot new legal technology solutions, the strength of our innovation model is the ability to develop and roll out solutions not just for Singapore, but for Asia Pacific and our global network.
What’s in store for Create+65 in the near future?
We will be working closely with FLIP to engage with start-ups to accelerate legal innovation in the region. Watch this space. We hope to share more in the coming months.