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Travers appoints Oliver Bethell as CTO to replace retiring IT director Ann Cant

Travers Smith has decided on a replacement for retiring IT director Ann Cant, we can reveal, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s interim chief technology officer Oliver Bethell set to join the UK top 50 firm in September as CTO.

Travers Smith has decided on a replacement for retiring IT director Ann Cant, we can reveal, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s interim chief technology officer Oliver Bethell (pictured) set to join the UK top 50 firm in September as CTO.

Bethell has been with Freshfields since 2008, and between June 2015 and October 2017 led the strategy and architecture team, as the magic circle firm puts together its technology strategy and roadmap. He was part of the leadership team that transitioned Freshfields’ technology centre to Manchester.

As CTO Bethell will be responsible for the delivery of all technology services within Travers Smith, from the IT Service Desk through to implementing new technology change. He will – as Cant has done – report to managing partner David Patient and the board but will not have a board position.

While law firms are keen to show that technology is being elevated in priority, it was refreshing to speak about the hire to Patient, who told us: “Technology has always been strategic for us, especially in recent years and we’ve been pursuing a very clear IT strategy led by Ann and her team, supported by the other decision makers, to move to the cloud, focus on cybersecurity and ensure that we have in place all the virtual infrastructure to enable us to work any time and any place.”

Travers Smith has just gone live on cloud-based document management system NetDocuments, although this year it also selected Aderant Expert, which is not currently in the cloud.

Patient added: “It just so happened that Ann told us of her intention to retire and lucky she gave us plenty of notice. That coincided with this opportunity with Oliver. To say we’ve elevated IT to a more strategic level you could say because it’s such an important part of running any business and his experience coming from Freshfields is terrific.”

While the title CTO often suggests a technological as opposed to strategic role, Patient said: “It’s just the title we agreed, no more, no less.”

In a statement Bethell commented: “I am really excited to be joining Travers Smith. Ann has grown an incredible team and I am looking forward to working with them to build on what is already a very impressive year of technology change at the firm. Technology is so important to the success of a business and I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities to grow and add new capabilities in order to meet the changing demands of the firm and its clients.”

Patient said: “Over the past few years we have invested heavily in our IT infrastructure and are very grateful for Ann’s support in rolling out these projects, which have been vital for us to provide the best service possible for our clients. I am delighted to be welcoming Oliver to the firm in September and working with him to build on the fantastic work that Ann has done to date.”

Cant will leave Travers in 2019.