Clifford Chance goes app barmy; Clyde & Co offers training contract seat in Data Lab; Law Society forecasts employment will fall by 13,000 by 2027 (in part thanks to tech); Eversheds launches Konexo Hub CLM; BLM adopts Blueprint; Allen & Overy launches new legal services centre in Joburg

Time poor but want to catch up on the latest biggest legaltech news? Look no further.

Clifford Chance goes app barmy

We almost fell off our chair this week at the news that all London trainees at Clifford Chance are now trained on how to build mobile and web apps as part of their onboarding. One client app has already been created as a result of the training.

This is no reflection on no-code app provider Fliplet, which we love, but the idea of trainees firing off apps should be enough to give most sane tech leaders and senior execs a heart attack.

To be fair, the training only consists of a four-hour hackathon and CC gets maximum credit for trying to instil tech enthusiasm in its trainees.

We spoke to CC’s PR team, who assure us that trainees won’t be left to spin up apps unsupervised. Any app has to go through Clifford Chance’s Ideas Lab. The spokesperson told us: “They aren’t just free to create apps. The training is to make them aware of what is out there and to include technology in their way of thinking. It fits with Ignite, which is our training contract scheme for trainees interested in technology.”

The app that was created was at the request of a client. A trainee at the firm was working with a partner and thanks to his Fliplet training was able to quickly mock up an app that fitted the bill.

Over 100 trainees have participated in the training over the last 12 months after partners and the graduate team at Clifford Chance identified an opportunity to enable the practice areas to have access to technical skills by training all trainees on Fliplet.

But creating the app is only half the battle. Once the enthusiasm has faded, apps need work to maintain and ensure adoption.

There is a fine line between cultivating enthusiasm and empowering trainees to use and understand tech, and encouraging an en masse app building exercise that will lead to a whole bunch of obsolete apps with out of date content, which can lead to client disappointment and is a worry for partners in terms of liability.

Clyde & Co to offer seat for trainees in Data Lab

Continuing the trainee theme, Clyde & Co has announced that it will be introducing a six-month full-time seat for trainees in its in-house Data Lab from March 2020.

Led by partner Mark Wing, the Lab has six members of staff – four machine learning engineers and two paralegals, working with partners across the firm. Students from University College London’s computer science department also work in the Lab on a part-time basis.

Wing says: “The legal industry is ever changing and we want to make sure that we equip our future talent with the wide range of skills required to become a successful lawyer today. We have worked closely with the firm’s Early Careers team over the last 12 months to create this opportunity, and are very excited to welcome our first trainee on board in the Data Lab this coming spring.”

It is not clear if trainees can qualify into the Lab as they can into, for example, Addleshaw Goddard’s Transaction Management Team. Wing wasn’t immediately available to clarify this.

BLM Adopts Tiger Eye’s Blueprint to streamline knowledge management

The culmination of a lot of work that we will do a deeper dive into in the new year, BLM has adopted Blueprint – the knowledge management solution with integration into iManage – across all their UK and Irish offices.

Blueprint is a KM workflow tool that enables lawyers to submit their documents to professional support lawyers with ‘one click’, streamlining the submission and approval process and encouraging lawyers to ensure their knowledge finds its way into a curated platform.

Documents are classified by the KM team and can be annotated with notes.

Fiona Parkinson, Head of Knowledge Management at BLM, explained, “it was important that we invested in a system that allowed us to enhance our collaborative efforts and make the most of the range of expertise within our firm.”

As we revealed in May 2018, Al Tamimi & Company last year became one of the first firms to adopt Tiger Eye’s KM add-on tool.

Allen & Overy launches new legal services centre in Joburg

Allen & Overy has announced that a new Legal Services Centre (LSC) will open in Johannesburg in the first half of 2020 as part of its expansion plans

Angela Clist, head of LSC, said: “Johannesburg makes an ideal location for our new centre as it has a strong base of legal experts. Our Johannesburg office has been open for five years now, and we look forward to growing the LSC alongside the current team.

“All the work performed in the new centre will serve our clients directly as well as even more practice groups and offices across our global network. Having worked with over 450 partners across the firm and with a wide range of teams from banking regulation to US capital markets, the experience within the LSC is unrivalled.”

Andrew Trahair, Head of Advanced Delivery & Solutions, added: “This is an important step forward for our AD&S businesses. The LSC is an essential resource for A&O as we take on more larger and more complex projects for our clients. The team will support both our traditional practice groups and our AD&S businesses, for example the Markets Innovation Group and A&O Consulting.”

Konexo launches its transformative Konexo Hub

New legal-tech based portal designed to support in-house counsel

Konexo, the unique global alternative legal and compliance services provider, today announces the launch of its new legal-tech product: Konexo Hub. Konexo Hub combines leading technologies to bring the client matter lifecycle into one place. It is a flexible portal which uses technology to give in-house legal teams access to leading-edge technology to drive efficiency and quality. In development since March 2019, Konexo Hub was soft launched earlier this year.

Designed to support clients to outsource activity, or manage routine work themselves, Konexo Hub’s key features include document automation, AI contract review, bespoke workflow management and sophisticated data gathering and reporting. Legal teams are facing increasing pressure to do more with less, whilst their workloads grow and become more complex and Konexo’s new Hub is well-placed to empower clients to deliver their services more efficiently, using controlled and measurable tools.

Commenting on the launch, Graham Richardson, partner and head of Konexo, said: “We are very proud to bring Konexo Hub to market. The legal landscape is changing, with in-house legal teams working amid the increased globalisation of law and regulation, while business decision-makers increasingly scrutinise the value they derive from their legal resources more than ever before. Konexo Hub is a key differentiator and will empower inhouse legal teams to have more choice in managing the work they do, and deliver faster and better service provision to their organisations.”

Konexo Hub enables clients to draft and review contracts online using state of the art document automation tools. These tools can be used in conjunction with Konexo’s wider offerings such as legal managed services and interim resourcing. The portal also includes a range of self-service legal tools, which offer quick responses to common legal queries, legal risk indicators and reporting.

The Hub is intended to reduce and help manage efficiently the complex pressures legal teams face and take the strain out of routine, legal work for client teams. Large corporate clients, across all sectors, will benefit from the add-value which Konexo Hub provides.

Law Society says 13,000 jobs will go by 2027

A report from the Law Society of England and Wales claims that the legal services market will need to adapt to a more deregulated environment, stronger commercial pressures and increasing adoption of technology, with employment set to fall by 13,000 by 2027.

“Our analysis anticipates the shape of the future legal workforce, identifying trends and skills gaps based on a range of alternative scenarios, from technology adoption and Brexit to competition,” Law Society president Simon Davis said.

“Developments identified here will help define the roles and skills required for solicitor firms to perform successfully, while the Law Society will continue to refer to these findings to plan and develop relevant support for our members.”

Since 1993 the number of legal professionals has increased steadily, at an average rate of just under two per cent per year, from 61,329 to around 150,000 in 2017. Total employment in the legal services sector was estimated at 321,000 in 2017.

Key findings of Law Society’s Strategic Workforce Planning reports are that by 2027:

  • Employment in the legal services sector is projected to fall by 13,000 (4%)
  • Legal professionals are projected to comprise 57% of the workforce, and legal associate professionals (such as compliance officers) 15% (compared with 47% and 11% respectively in 2017)
  • Numbers of legal secretaries are projected to decline by nearly two thirds, other office support staff by a quarter – to account for 3% and 9% of the workforce respectively
  • There will be around 20 legal professionals per legal secretary, and five legal professionals for every secretary or other office support worker
  • Staff with degrees or other higher qualifications will account for more than 99% of the legal professionals workforce, 76% of the legal associate professionals workforce, and 80% of the senior support staff workforce.

The sector will need to recruit around 100,000 employees from 2017-2027, or around 10,000 per year, of which around 7,000 will be legal professionals and around 2,800 legal associate professionals.

At present around 3,100 graduates and 3,300 returners enter legal professional roles each year.

Simon Davis said: “Employers may need to engage even more with higher education providers to encourage talent into the sector and profession.

“The most prevalent skills gaps (although these gaps are decreasing) are likely to be around problem solving, client handling, and planning and organization.