What’s going on here?
CMS is the first law firm to make its tech incubator, equIP, a global initiative to attract more new start-ups.
What does this mean?
A tech incubator is space where new business (or start-ups) are supported with office space, mentoring and access to investors and networks. This provides a catalyst to the growing company while ensuring existing businesses build relationships with potential clients. CMS also offer its incubator residents discounted legal advice. The law firm will be focusing on start-ups within its main sectors including media, technology, energy and financial institutions, with a focus on intellectual property. Legal tech companies may also be considered for a place on the programme. The programme, equIP, was first launched in 2015 and is now expanding into 20 different countries.
Why should law firms care?
Big commercial law firms have not traditionally been associated with tech start-ups. However, law firms are now realising its advantages. In the last few years, many law firms have started incubators, such as Allen & Overy’s “Fuse” and Slaughter and May’s “Fast Forward”. Other firms like Simmons & Simmons and Addleshaw Goddard have launched fintech funds to support start-ups. The popularity of nurturing new tech talent reflects a win-win scenario for law firms and start-ups.
There are many benefits of supporting a start-up business. It means law firms can form connections with those at the forefront of technological innovation and potentially develop bonds with the companies (who can become future clients). This helps lawyers understand new technology that will affect its clients’ business, giving their firm a competitive edge. Lawyers who keep their fingers on the pulse of the commercial world are always in demand. Equally tantalising is the prospect of brand-new legal tech that law firms can directly implement and benefit from. For example, RAVN, a company providing AI to law firms, is a current member of equIP. RAVN’s participation in this programme means CMS can use its technology to provide cheaper and more efficient client services.
Report written by Elizabeth M.
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