UK Top 50 IT Team Profiles: Clifford Chance

As part of our huge project to profile the UK top 200 law firms’ IT capability, Legal IT Insider spoke to Clifford Chance’s CIO Paul Greenwood about the structure and strategy of the magic circle firm’s IT team; why the innovation and operations teams have been split; and what the strategic priorities are for 2019.

Clifford Chance: At a glance

Team size: “Several hundred” – no exact figures disclosed.


Paul Greenwood, CIO (Reports to global COO, Caroline Firstbrook)

Key divisions reporting into Paul Greenwood:

– Technology Services (Evette Pastoriza)

– Global Technology Operations (Mike Brown)

– Legal Technology Services (Anthony Vigneron)

– Programme Management (Jason Deverell)

– Information & Cyber Security (Chris Leather)

Investment in IT: Not disclosed

Innovation: Legal Technology Solutions division focuses on innovation. Recently separated from Legal Technology Operations. Both still report to Paul Greenwood.

Priorities: Investing in innovation and change; client experience; modernising core systems; cyber defence; data and data science

Paul Greenwood, CIO, Clifford Chance

How are Clifford Chance’s IT operations structured?

As CIO, I am responsible for all technology, anywhere in the world. We have several hundred people working in IT globally. The team is structured into a number of different areas. We have Technology Services, which are the actual lawyer facing support teams. They are operated on a regional basis. Then we have our Global Technology Operations, which operate our traditional systems of record – so our document management, our HR systems and so on. We have Legal Technology Services, which look after the more innovative and emerging technologies – areas with faster pace of change and more direct impact on our work. Then we have Programme Management and Information and Cyber Security. So, five areas in all. There is a head of each of those divisions who reports to me and I report to our global COO Caroline Firstbrook.

Why was the decision made to separate the innovation function?

The reason behind splitting Legal Technology Operations from Legal Technology Solutions was to reflect the different pace at which the two work.

What are your top-level objectives for the IT function?

We are trying to prepare the ground for a different kind of IT function. IT in a law firm has traditionally been rather back office focused. It has been all about just giving people what they ask for. But in a world where technology is becoming more and more fundamental to the delivery of legal services, we have to have a different kind of structure and a different kind of relationship with the front office. That is what we are working towards.

So, our key objectives are around making support work differently; splitting those two divisions so that they can react in different ways; looking at the way we manage programmes and projects, and so on. There are a number of ongoing shifts that will enable us to build this new IT organisation for the future.

If we drill down a bit, what are your specific priorities for 2019?

We are investing in innovation and change. We have something we are calling “best delivery” which is really all about giving a great client experience. Technology is an important part of that now. We are modernising some of our systems. We have a number of systems going through an upgrade cycle at the moment. We’re in the final stages of changing our matter intake and HR systems and soon we will be embarking on a document management replacement. Cyber defence is the fourth priority. We are also organising our data and data science, which will be a fifth.

What new technology have you introduced over the past year?

There has been lots. We have moved everyone to a more agile working environment. All our lawyers now have a laptop and are using Windows 10. We are using Surface Hub technologies in meeting rooms and more Cisco telepresence solutions. We are using more agile printing, so you can print from anywhere and collect output from anywhere. We have loopUp for teleconferencing. There has been a variety of things.

What is your approach to shadow IT?

I don’t think we really have very much of it, thankfully. Everything is kept in a single global IT budget. Offices then receive a recharge. Everything is consolidated in one place to manage total IT spend for the firm.

What is your approach to innovation?

If there is a solution available, we always prefer to buy rather than build.

But the challenge for Clifford Chance is that we are often the first to do things, so we sometimes find ourselves having to build solutions because there isn’t anything to buy in the market.

What is your biggest challenge, or frustration, as CIO?

There is a lot of exciting new technology coming to the legal market but there are two challenges to making that technology really achieve its value potential. One is that the business is incredibly busy and therefore the time available to understand the new technologies and learn about their impact is limited. But more fundamentally, a lot of these technologies are single point-of-view start-ups. They have a single purpose and a single delivery model. But they are not integrated together so the operating maturity isn’t there.

We might use four or five of these innovative new technologies on a matter. Unfortunately, today, that means five different interfaces and uploading documents to five different solutions. We want to get away from that to a model where we can integrate these new exciting solutions much more seamlessly in a way that enables us to offer a better service to the client.

If we were toasting your success in five years’ time, what would be toasting?

An IT function that is a much more client facing operation and that has a self-confidence about its role and its value to the business that is reflected in the perception of IT by our lawyers.

By Amy Carroll

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