As part of a drive towards more collaborative working, Reed Smith has opened ‘innovation hubs’ in its London and New York offices and hired Alex Smith from LexisNexis as dedicated innovation manager.
Innovation hubs are communities or work spaces which act as a focal point for knowledge transfer, industry insights and brainstorming sessions to find solutions to complex challenges and showcase new capabilities. Most famously, the IBM Industry Solutions Lab provides executive-level briefings and brings together IBM researchers and industry specialists from around the world for discussions about and demonstrations of cutting edge technology.
Reed Smith’s innovation hubs, measuring 538 ft. sq. in London and 320 ft. sq. in New York, sit in the centre of the firm’s client meeting areas and are intended to act as catalysts for clients to meet with the firm’s lawyers and contacts, providing them with access to both expertise and connections that will unlock new commercial opportunities and solutions.
They will also offer an environment to test new technologies which enhance client service or assist clients with their own technical development.
Smith, who at LexisNexis was senior product lead – platform innovation, will be based in London and will work internationally with the firm’s clients, lawyers and business services teams to develop ideas ranging from those which drive internal efficiencies to ideas for new products which enhance service delivery.
Lucy Dillon, global chief knowledge officer, said: “Our clients often come to us to help them to find clever solutions for changes affecting their businesses and we hope this initiative, and the dedicated spaces we are developing across the firm, will offer them ‘thinking space’ to do just that.
“Our aim is to create a broad community and a shared working environment for our clients, experts and start-up businesses, and to involve independent leading thinkers from universities, think tanks and sectors in which our clients operate. Ultimately, it’s about creating that ‘deliberate serendipity’ of interaction from which innovation sparks.”
The first innovation hub event will focus on the FinTech sector.
Andrew Jenkinson, Reed Smith’s London office managing partner, said: “The pace of technological change that all businesses have to contend with creates great opportunities for innovation and law firms are no exception to that. Our innovation hub will enable us to develop and promote new, exciting and creative means of providing legal services and, in partnership with our clients, seek dynamic and value driven solutions to business challenges affecting us all.”
The intention is to develop similar hubs across the Reed Smith network, with the initiative led by New York partner and financial industry group chair Edward Estrada; New York office managing partner Cindy Minniti; global chief knowledge officer Lucy Dillon; and global director of learning and development Nigel Spencer. Last year Reed Smith hired Dillon from Berwin Leighton Paisner and appointed Mylan’s global IT transformation head Steve Agnoli as CIO.
Comment: Aside from the funky cushions, perhaps more could have been done to make the innovation hub look more…innovative. We’re not sure pencils on the desk say ‘high tech.’ Still, it’s early days.