Freshfields hires global chief innovation officer from major investment bank client

In a major hire, global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has today (5 February) announced the appointment of Gil Perez as global chief innovation officer, effective from April. Perez joins from Deutsche Bank, where he was chief innovation officer, with responsibility for the bank’s innovation strategy; transformation to the public cloud; AI, machine learning and GenAI initiatives; strategic technology partnerships; and the bank’s Corporate Venture Capital Group. In prior years, Perez held senior executive positions at leading software vendor SAP.

Based in Silicon Valley, Freshfields says that Perez will lead the continuing evolution of the firm’s global innovation strategy. This is an extraordinary and dare we say even trophy hire for the Magic Circle firm, however one legal recruiter we spoke to about the hire observed that it may well be difficult for Perez to transition from an investment bank to a law firm, where the ownership and decision-making structure is very different, as is the money available for investment. In 2019, Deutsche Bank’s CEO Christian Sewing announced that the bank would invest €13bn in technology before 2022. According to GlobalData, the bank’s ICT spend in 2023 was $4.9bn.

Commenting on the appointment, Freshfields senior partner Georgia Dawson said: “A culture of continuous improvement is core to our firm’s growth strategy. It’s vital to our efforts to attract the very best talent and equip them with the latest tools to serve and collaborate with our clients. Embracing the possibilities of the latest innovation and tech, such as GenAI, will ensure we remain at the cutting edge of client service standards.”

Perez commented: “As organisations move quickly to maximise the opportunities borne from great innovation, and with the recent advancements of GenAI, the legal profession is destined to profoundly change in the coming years and Freshfields has the clear ambition and intent to transform the way lawyers and clients interact by leading the industry. I’m looking forward to collaborating at the firm with clients, colleagues, innovation partners and tech companies, and redefining client experience in the industry.”