Future-facing Training: Reed Smith launches “innovation seats” in training contracts

November 6, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

US-headquartered firm Reed Smith has announced the creation of a new “innovation seat” for two trainees as part of its training contract scheme in its London office.

What does this mean?

Two trainees have been selected to undertake the new option due to their expressed interest in innovation during the seat change process. The innovation seat will allow the trainees to split their time between a “traditional legal practice seat” and one of the firm’s innovation projects. These projects include “developing automated services for clients”, “working on a new knowledge analytics platform” and “helping to develop the firm’s service design methodology”. The firm says the involvement of trainees with the innovation projects will support the wider innovation strategy of the team they are working in.

To prepare for the innovation seats, Reed Smith ran a summer programme in collaboration with independent consultancy Janders Dean. The programme aimed to teach trainees skills such as problem identification and solving, design thinking and understanding the impact of legal technology.

Holly Allen, Graduate Recruitment Manager, discussed the new seat option saying, “We are very pleased to be launching two innovation seats for trainees. Encouraging our future lawyers to think about innovation from the start of their careers is essential to equip them with the skills needed for the legal practice of tomorrow”.

What's the big picture effect?

Reed Smith is strengthening its future-facing direction with multiple ongoing initiatives. Later this month, Adam Curphey will take on the role of innovation manager at the firm. Previously a capital markets solicitor at White & Case, Mr Curphey is currently head of development and innovation technology at BPP Law School and is responsible for the legal technology innovation and design course. This new role at Reed Smith will allow him to work closely with the firm’s innovation and IT development teams to implement new ideas to “drive internal efficiencies” as well as to “identify collaboration opportunities” with its clients to deliver new products and services.

Speaking about his upcoming new role, Mr Cuphey said, “Reed Smith is a firm that stands out for its approach to innovation. It is not just a buzz word but very clearly something that the firm takes seriously. I am excited to be joining the firm and look forward to working with its clients, lawyers, and business services teams to continue to innovate”. 

Last year, Reed Smith introduced a programme called “Innovation Hours” through which lawyers can assign up to 50 hours of their annual billable targets to time spent working on innovation projects or products. The programme had a successful pilot year with 17 lawyers spending 364 hours on 6 innovation projects.

The University of Exeter also recently announced a collaboration with Reed Smith to launch a new undergraduate four-year “legal placement” degree which will allow students to complete an innovation-focused year in the firm’s London office.

As law firms strive to remain competitive and keep up-to-date with advances in technology, we may see a shift towards this type of integrated training.

Report written by Erin Stockdale

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