Forward-thinking law firm

January 3, 2020

Nigel Emmerson, partner and head of Womble Bond Dickinson’s (WBD) Innovation initiative, discusses why innovation is so important to the North East’s pre-eminent law firm

Today’s clients expect just as much from their legal firm as they do from other non-legal service providers and we firmly believe the legal sector needs to embrace innovation in order to remain competitive, relevant and progressive.

As a result, we don’t see ourselves as just a law firm; we are a full-service organisation offering a wide range of products and services to suit our clients’ ever-changing needs.

We established our Innovation Group to help identify potential innovation opportunities and coordinate initiatives across the firm.

The team comprises more than 100 lawyers, project managers, technologists, data analysts, knowledge managers and operations professionals, working together with our clients to develop and deliver effective legal work and resolve wider and complex business issues.

Our goal is to empower our lawyers to be able to solve real-world problems using the latest technology, enabling them to work more efficiently and deliver our services faster and at a lower cost while mitigating risks.

Innovation is intrinsic to our business. We have received a number of accolades for innovation alone, most notably being ranked the 33rd most innovative law firm in Europe in the FT Innovative Lawyer Awards Europe 2019. The awards represent a unique analysis of the legal industry through interviews and extensive research, including robust client interviews and independent expert references. We consider it an honour to make the list.

We were successful in two categories. WBD was highly commended in the FT’s ‘Innovation in legal expertise: Enabling business growth and transformation’ category. This recognised the firm’s support of Newcastle City Council with its national pathfinder project, supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust, to transform the business delivery model for its parks and open spaces.

WBD was also shortlisted in the ‘Innovation in the business of law: New business and service delivery models’, which focused on our launch of WBD Advance, a solution pulling together all of our innovative technology and commercial services, which are becoming increasingly essential to clients alongside our traditional legal advice. It is one of many of our projects which looks to deliver high-quality, costeffective services for our clients. The relentless pace of innovation means that we need to keep challenging ourselves to think differently about how we can deliver the most value to our clients.

Another product we launched in 2019 is a new service for fast-growing businesses: WBD Accelerate, alongside a formal partnership with virtual acceleration community Yena, which supports entrepreneurs and the growth of startups across the UK.

We’re now its official legal brand partner and will work with the network and its other partners to support and grow the community through advice, educational content and mentoring.

In the North East, we are members of Dynamo, an enterprise IT cluster with 150 members representing the needs of the 40,000 people who work in the region’s IT sector. We regularly speak at Dynamo events, in particular #CyberFest, an annual series of events helping build a cybersecurity ecosystem across the region.

Internally, we host an annual Innovation Week across our UK and US offices. The event enables us to exchange best practice with our US colleagues, to find out more about the exciting initiatives happening across the firm and how we can apply them in our regions.

It has been a successful 2019 for our Innovation team and we’re looking forward to seeing what challenges we can help our clients overcome in 2020.

Womble Bond Dickinson
www.womblebonddickinson.com/uk

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