Linklaters has hired former Ashurst global IT director Bruna Pellicci as its new chief technology officer; a role that was created following the promotion this year of director of technology Matt Peers to global chief operating officer.
Pellicci, who starts on Monday 5 November and has a global remit, was one of four final candidates in a selection process that was kick started at the beginning of the year. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Peers, who retains a dual COO/director of technology title, said: “We had two males and two females on short list and they were all very good candidates, but Bruna was the standout.”
One of the key things in Pellicci’s favour was the work she has done at Ashurst in helping to deliver a number of transformation initiatives, as well as her achievements in progressing the cloud agenda.
“She has great experience in delivering quite difficult change at Ashurst and we can benefit from that, plus the breadth and complexity of Linklaters will suit Bruna’s next stage of development,” said Peers.
“We gain here from her transformation experience and she gains because Linklaters is a bigger and more complex firm.”
Pellicci was heavily involved in the integration activity post Ashurst’s merger with Blake Dawson in 2011 as well as the creation of the UK top 15 law firm’s legal and business support services office in Glasgow, which is the home of its legal operations team Ashurst Advance.
She also adds deep technical experience to an IT team that, with the exception of head of architecture Alastair Bain, is heavy on generalists. Peers said: “We are working at a time where more demands are being placed on us by clients and we need to be careful about what we take on and don’t take on.”
An outspoken advocate of the cloud, at Ashurst Pellicci formed a cross law firm working party that charged Microsoft with solving many of the issues that firms face in moving their core systems and infrastructure to the cloud. She had also begun working with IT infrastructure and services provider Softcat on a hybrid-cloud model that would include moving to Office 365/hosted Exchange. Peers said: “Bruna and I are very much aligned on the law firm journey to the cloud.”
Successful change management comes down as much to sharing a vision and overcoming cultural barriers as choosing the right technology, and Peers added: “Having somebody in my team that can work well with vendors and the senior leadership and become a champion advocate for where technology can go is key.”
Despite the recent trend towards hiring senior technology leaders from outside the legal sector – Pellicci was replaced at Ashurst by GE Capital International’s IT director Neil Jordan and Peers himself joined from Deloitte in May 2015 – Pellicci’s experience of dealing with lawyers and her understanding of how they work is felt to be a big benefit.
Her remit will be to review and refine Linklaters’ technology strategy; ensure that it has assembled the right programme to deliver that strategy including from a security standpoint; ensure that the programme is properly resourced; and look at Linklaters client-facing IT initiatives.
“There’s a big strand around client IT and the things that we are being asked to do from a technology perspective for clients. At the moment, we do it all but in a non-joined up manner. Bruna will pull that into order,” Peers said.
That will include looking at the options and issues around effectively becoming a software provider as big law firms increasingly provide clients with digitised legal services: both Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy have separate ventures from which to sell subscription-based digital services and solutions.
Pellicci doesn’t report to the board but Peers observed: “The way our firm works is that people get recognised for the things they’ve delivered so this is the start of the journey for Bruna.”
Her hire is a big tick in the box for diversity, and she is one of just a handful of female CTOs or IT directors in the UK top 100.