As legal technology vendors and law firms alike work out ways to position themselves at the heart of emerging technology, Allen & Overy (A&O) has today (28 March) announced the opening of Fuse, a new tech innovation space where tech companies, A&O lawyers, technologists and their clients will collaborate to explore, develop and test legal, regulatory and deal-related solutions.
In what represents a substantial investment and statement of intent by the magic circle law firm, early-stage and more mature tech companies can apply to work in a specially-designed area for 60 individuals housed within A&O’s London offices on the boundary of Shoreditch and the City of London. Once in residence, companies will have access to the expertise of A&O lawyers, technologists and clients to co-create practical solutions to some of the challenges faced by companies, financial institutions and law firms today.
City law firms and legal technology providers are increasingly engaging in tech accelerator programmes and Fuse follows Dentons’ launch in 2015 of innovation subsidiary Nextlaw Labs, which invests in and mentors startups. LexisNexis in December 2016 launched a legaltech startup accelerator in Silicon Valley, which will see three startups given workspace and access to LexisNexis data, tools, technology and mentorship, although Fuse clearly overshadows it both in scale and ambition.
Applications for Fuse will open in April 2017 and applicants will undergo a selection process before successful companies move into the space in September 2017.
Wim Dejonghe, Allen & Overy’s senior partner, commented: “Developments in tech are rapidly transforming our industry and we are determined to play a lead role in harnessing the power of new solutions for the benefit of our clients.
“Fuse offers us a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with both our clients and some of the brightest minds in the tech sector, particularly those who have synergies with our business. I’m convinced this will not only put us at the forefront of developments in this field but will also be a key differentiator for Allen & Overy in the years to come.”
Fuse is being led by A&O partner Jonathan Brayne as chairman, and credit derivatives counsel Shruti Ajitsaria as head of Fuse.