The Innovation Hours program pilot ran from January to December 2017. Lawyers across the firm were invited by Chief Knowledge Officer Lucy Dillon, and London-based Innovation Hub manager Alex Smith, to submit their ideas. From 30 idea submissions, six were selected based on a combination of criteria, including creativity, client focus, efficiency, alignment with the firm’s strategy and cultural change. The attorneys working on the projects were supported throughout the pilot by Alex Smith, and were connected with the Practice Innovation, Knowledge Management, and Marketing teams, as well as other practice groups, who lent support where required. Each lawyer working on a project was able to allocate up to 50 innovation hours toward their billable-hour targets for time spent developing their ideas.
“Innovation isn’t just a buzzword at Reed Smith – it is a part of our core values and culture. Our internal teams are provided with unfettered time to think and generate new ideas, and they have the firm’s commitment, facilities, technology and manpower at their disposal to develop these ideas into projects. They are supported throughout the process by individuals from our global Practice Innovation, Knowledge Management and Marketing teams who possess a wide range of expertise and resources,” said Sandy Thomas, global managing partner. “Following a highly successful pilot, we’re looking forward to relaunching the program on a larger scale.”
Among the pilot projects was Reed Smith’s successfully launched Breach RespondeRS app. This free, first-of-its-kind app simplifies the application of the patchwork of U.S. state laws to let companies focus on protecting data and preventing further harm. The app was developed entirely in-house, with lawyers in Reed Smith’s IP, Tech & Data Group collaborating with members of the firm’s Knowledge Management, IT, Practice Innovation and Business Development teams.
The additional five projects involved teams in the United States, Europe and Asia working on two projects involving the automation of contracts and documents; reviewing databases of previous cases and outcomes to provide insight on trends in the managed care industry; working with a FinTech start-up with an interesting new technology model; and working on a blockchain project, including a response on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Digital Commerce to the EU’s "Opinion on Blockchain," as well as a blockchain whitepaper.
Kari Larsen, co-head of the FinTech team, was heavily involved in leading the blockchain project. She recalls: “The innovation hours pilot was tremendously helpful and allowed us to develop materials that have truly impressed clients, as well as provided the opportunity for us to work with a revolutionary company in its infancy. Because of the firm recognizing innovation hours toward billable targets, we were able to recruit top-talent lawyers to contribute to these projects, while also increasing their exposure to new tech.”
Going forward, five projects with direct client involvement or impact will be selected from the expanded range of projects for a fast-track, 12-week program. These projects will receive a high level of support and mentorship from Alex Smith, and legal operational and strategic management advisor firm, Janders Dean.
If you would like to find out more about how Reed Smith assists start-ups and in-house legal teams in achieving their innovation goals, please contact Alex Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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