DLA Piper’s former chief information officer and director of business transformation Daniel Pollick is to join DWF in the newly-created role of CIO, we can reveal, as the UK top 25 firm considers floating on the London stock exchange in order to raise money to invest in technology and its Connected Services division.
Pollick, who will officially join DWF in August, will on top of managing the mainstream IT team be responsible for facilities and the operational change team, overseeing both the strategic and operational application of DWF’s IT as well as the further development of the business’s data strategy.
Until now DWF has had a chief technology officer: a role held since 2011 by Richard Hodkinson, who for the time being is staying on as a consultant working with DWF’s software consultancy DWF3Sixty, according to a spokesperson at the firm. Hodkinson, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has said on social media that he will shortly be leaving the business soon.
In practice there is often little difference between a strategic CTO and CIO, however DWF’s managing partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland told us: “There is a far bigger focus on our data strategy within the CIO role and this role will also take over our operational change team.” Data strategy typically ensures that data is managed and used as an asset.
Pollick held the role of CIO at DLA – the UK’s top law firm by revenue in 2017 – from December 1997 to February 2018 and is one of the best known names in the industry. This is a big hire for DWF, which in 2017 turned over £201m compared to DLA’s £1.68bn.
The hire follows the arrival at DWF in September 2017 of Nigel Knowles as chair: Knowles spearheaded DLA’s meteoric rise from a regional player to now global giant with around 3,750 lawyers and the significance will not be wasted on the market.
The double ex-DLA C-suite hires coincide with aggressive international expansion at DWF, which in 2017 entered the Australia, Asia and South American legal markets.
DWF already stands out for its investment in technology and in 2017 launched an agile working environment underpinned by a virtual platform for home workers, with up to 600 of its 2,700 staff working flexibly, after its merger with 215-employee firm Triton meant the firm couldn’t accommodate all of its staff.
It is also something of a poster-child for Thomson Reuters Contract Express, offering clients a white labelled document automation service called DWF Draft, led by solutions manager for automation and technology, Jonathan Badrock.
The Manchester-headquartered firm, in which around 50% is volume work, on 15 June confirmed that it is eying a flotation on the London Stock Market, saying in a statement: “To enable us to deliver on our strategy and for us to better serve our clients through an increasingly international offering, we have plans to increase our investment in information technology and Connected Services.”
DWF’s Connected Services division was launched last year to consolidate its diverse range of consultative business solutions. It includes DWF Ventures, run by Jonathan Patterson, which is in effect the firm’s ‘innovation arm’ tasked with developing new ideas and prioritising specific R&D priorities.
The firm has a predictive analytics team within DWF Consultancy, which works with clients to analyse litigation data. Pollick, who reports to Leaitherland, will work with the head of Connected Services Jason Ford.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider about his new role, Pollick, who will be based in Manchester, said: “What appealed to me about DWF is twofold. First, there is an energy and growth ambition which is reflected in the firm’s thinking about a possible float, and that’s really exciting. Secondly, it’s not a traditional law firm: 50% is what we recognise as bread and butter corporate legal services but 50% is volume work and not only is there a massive opportunity but a need to apply technology to drive efficiency, automation and innovation. It’s a very different firm to other law firms that I was approached by.”
Leaitherland said: “The pace and ambition of our business requires us to put innovative information technology and systems front and centre, and continued strength in this area will play a key role in facilitating this ambition and achieving our business objectives. With Daniel’s technical skill and leadership, we will continue to challenge the norm and adopt new ways of working, and his people-focused mindset will ensure our platforms and solutions are being leveraged in the right way to deliver tangible benefits to our people and clients.”