Exclusive: Wavelength hires Sophia Adams Bhatti

Published first in the Orange Rag out on 26 June, here is our exclusive on the Wavelength hire.
In a very significant hire for Wavelength.law, the legal engineering firm, has hired the Law Society of England and Wales’ director of legal and regulatory policy, Sophia Adams Bhatti, who in September will take on the new role of head of strategy and policy at Wavelength.
Adams Bhatti is a respected figure in the regulatory world: before the Law Society, she was deputy director of strategy for the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the Office of Fair Trading and acting head of strategy for the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
At the Law Society, Adams Bhatti has led the legal and regulatory policy team with oversight for policy development across the full breadth of law reform, engaging with policy makers in government, and partner agencies, both domestically and internationally.  Specifically, she spearheaded the Law Society’s programme of work on the impact of technology on the law and the justice system and practice of law, leading the Public Policy Commission on the use of algorithms in the justice system.
Speaking about the hire to Legal IT Insider – and more specifically replying to our question as to why Wavelength needs Adams Bhatti – CEO Peter Lee said: “Sophia is going to be our head of policy and strategy.  We’ve realised that quite a lot of the work we do needs a lot of strategic thinking from organisations about their use of data, especially in the financial services and pharmaceutical sectors, where their regulators are starting to include data requirements.
“We need to be able to advise on and assist with the strategic planning of some of these implementations.  Strategically organisations need to consider how the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence and the different ways of working with data is going to affect them and Sophia is doing a lot of work in those areas.”
Have regulatory barriers been a hindrance so far?  “No,” says Lee, “but it’s definitely having those skills that is needed and we can’t see anyone else that can offer an end to end solution.  So, if we’re doing a solution design and legal operations piece of work, that might involve elements of data science and service design and technology and there is a strategic wrapper around that.”
So, is the ambition that Adams Bhatti will also work with the regulators?  “Possibly,” says Lee.  “We’ve had discussions with the regulators around supporting them, especially around better data structures in their handbooks and the way they execute on the regulation, so her skills will really help in those areas.  And also we’ve had discussions with court services – so national and international courts – who want to engage in technology more in the way they deliver legal services.”
Wavelength employs around 30 people.  This time last year that number was 12.  Around two thirds of its staff are based in Cambridge and the rest in its London office.  Adams Bhatti will divide her time between the two offices.
Her hire follows that of Erika Concetta Pagano, formerly both a lecturer in law at the University of Miami School and Law and director of LawWithoutWalls, who in June took on the new role of head of legal innovation and design at Wavelength.  Pagano will lead the development, growth and management of the legal design and innovation aspects of Wavelength’s business.
Lee said: “It’s all part of the vision. Struan Britland [who joined in May from Arm] is heading the legal operations work we do.  Erika is heading legal innovation and design.  And Sophia is heading policy and regulation.  All of our projects involve elements of all of those things.”
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