Clifford Chance launches centralised R&D Hub as Applied Solutions becomes sales arm

Clifford Chance today (17 May) launches a new, centralised R&D Hub, which brings the product research and development capabilities of its ALSP Applied Solutions within the body of the firm. Applied Solutions, will going forward, act as the sales arm for the magic circle firm’s digital products, such as its white labelled automation product Clifford Chance Dr@ft.

April Brousseau has been appointed to lead the new R&D Hub, which will pull together the firm’s previously disparate R&D initiatives together and make it easier to work in an iterative way with clients.

The spokesperson said: “All the R&D capability is being brought into the heart of the business,” adding: “CCAS will remain as a sales operation and its role in selling our digital products continues.”

Applied Solutions is a startup and while it is loss making, it has hit its expected targets. The company was previously led by CEO Jeroen Plink, who left earlier this year. The spokesperson added: “The numbers are not a problem. When Jeroen Plink left we took the opportunity to fast track where we can go, not just replace him.”

It is hoped that the hub will accelerate and scale the development of digital products, both for sale to clients and to help transform the firm’s operations through the firm’s Best Delivery team.

By pooling this collective expertise in one place and working with Clifford Chance lawyers and other key teams, the R&D Hub will focus on the rapid and effective development of new digital solutions for the firm’s clients and its lawyers.

Law firm ALSPs are formed in many cases to keep digital products separate from the normal billable-hour based fee structure of law firms, and by keeping Applied Solutions as a sales arm, it is likely to continue to achieve that aim while better leveraging the internal know how of the firm.

Bas Boris Visser, global head of innovation and business change at the firm said: “The business of law is changing faster than ever, and pandemic disruption in the wider business world has set the stage for accelerating demand for digital legal products. By bringing together the research and development capabilities that we have developed both within the firm and in our successful subsidiary Clifford Chance Applied Solutions, we can boost the speed and scale to our digital product capabilities. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts, and I am excited to work with April and the whole team to build the digital legal products of tomorrow.”

Brousseau will have responsibility for the selection, design and development of all new digital products through the Hub, as well as for the sales of all client solutions via the dedicated sales team in Clifford Chance Applied Solutions. 

She said: “We have learned a lot from the start-up culture of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions in recent years, and it is great to be able to bring the exceptional product development expertise we have established there right into the heart of the business. We believe we can do more by doing it together in one, single, collaborative team.”