Oz Benamram to depart White & Case for a role as Simpson Thacher’s first CKO

White & Case’s longstanding and respected knowledge head Oz Benamram is to join Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as the New York white shoe law firm’s first chief knowledge and innovation officer, we have learned.

Benamram will leave White & Case after more than 11 years at the firm, during which time he has received widespread acclaim, including recognition from FT North America Innovative Lawyers.

White & Case’s knowledge department is comprised of over 200 people including professional support lawyers and researchers as well as information governance, eDiscovery and litigation support professionals. The firm has 44 offices across 30 countries.

Benamram’s achievements include introducing a new global technology strategy for the firm’s litigation practice, for which it was ranked by the FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2018 report as the second most innovative US law firm.

That strategy involved bringing much of the eDiscovery process in-house, growing the team (led by a dedicated director of practice technology) and working closely with Relativity, Brainspace, and Opus 2 Magnum for trial preparation. White & Case also developed a creative licence arrangement for multinational clients to use the firm’s eDiscovery tools – meaning they can do so on their own premises, on a White & Case server or in the cloud.

Benamram led the creation of White & Case connect, a knowledge portal/intranet launched in 2016. The intranet follows the firm’s organisational structure – global practices; business services; offices; team sites; and global tools – and all users have their own personal page with links to HR information as well as dashboards for training, evaluations, time billed and education. It also includes the firm’s knowledge bank. 

Before White & Case Benamram led knowledge management for many years at Morrison & Foerster, where he oversaw the development of AnswerBase, a KM system based on Recommind, which Adam Smith Esq described in 2006 as “a revolutionary approach to KM.”

Morrison & Foerster’s “AnswerBase” KM Initiative: Learning from Wal-Mart

Speaking at Thomson Reuters’ General Counsel Summit in 2018 Benamram said: “People get to my job either by a drive for efficiency or a hate of risk and usually we meet somewhere in the middle, because doing things consistently better helps both the efficiency side and the risk side. In addition to saving time what we do is take away anxiety from the lawyers and the clients, because we bring transparency to the way people work and how they do things and we make it faster and better when we put systems and processes in place.”

Simpson Thacher has around 964 lawyers across 10 offices – a far smaller number than White & Case but it is the 21st highest grossing law firm in the world according to The American Lawyer’s 2019 Global 200 survey. The firm specializes in a variety of practice areas including litigation and corporate, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions. However, it is particularly well known for its work in the private equity sector, where it is an outright global leader.

A spokesperson for Simpson Thacher declined to comment. However, a spokesperson for White & Case said: “We can confirm Oz is leaving the Firm. We wish him all the best in his new role.”

You might also be interested to look back at an article by industry KM expert Ron Friedmann on AnswerBase here: https://prismlegal.com/innovation_case_studies/