Dentons has named John Fernandez its first global chief innovation officer. Fernandez has served as Dentons’ US chief innovation officer and is also the global chair of Nextlaw Labs; Dentons’ startup investment vehicle.

Fernandez collaborated with Dentons’ leadership on the founding of Nextlaw Labs, a wholly-owned subsidiary that focuses on developing and investing in new technology with the ambition to transform the practice of law.

Fernandez also had a key role in the creation of a suite of Nextlaw companies, including Nextlaw Referral Network,  Nextlaw Public Affairs Network and more recently Nextlaw In-House Solutions.

In his new role, John will drive Dentons’ project innovation and will oversee the Nextlaw portfolio initiatives. He has been working closely with global chief information officer Marcel Henri who told us: “John is a great guy. Alongside Dan Jansen, he’s been leading our Nextlaw Labs efforts for the past couple of years and his appointment in this new role is a natural and much needed evolution.

“John’s mandate is to promote and accelerate innovation throughout our Firm and with clients. Naturally, there are strong synergies with technology and I’ve been working very closely with John for some time. However, innovation should also be perceived through additional lenses: practice innovation, management innovation, solution productization etc.”

Fernandez has been widely recognized in the industry as an innovator. In August, he was appointed to a one-year term on the governing council of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation. The 14-member governing council, in conjunction with its advisory council, direct the activities of the ABA Center for Innovation.

Prior to joining Dentons, Fernandez was Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development under President Obama and was one of the chief architects of President Obama’s regional innovation strategies.

“I am thrilled and honored to be appointed to this new position at a firm that has already made great strides towards innovation in delivering client services,” Fernandez said. “Already, Dentons is on its way to becoming synonymous with innovation in the legal profession.”

“Even before this appointment, in his role as chairman of Nextlaw Labs, John has helped Dentons become world-renowned as an innovator in the legal profession,” said Elliott Portnoy, Global CEO of Dentons. “Now we will unleash him to help us drive innovation in the firm across the entire globe.”