Dentons has named John Fernandez, a former mayor and Obama administration official, its first global chief innovation officer, the law firm said Wednesday.

Fernandez previously held the innovation title at Dentons for the United States, and currently is the global chair of Nextlaw Labs, an autonomous legal technology business accelerator owned by the firm.

“I am thrilled and honored to be appointed to this new position at a firm that has already made great strides towards innovation in delivering client services,” Fernandez said in a statement. “Already, Dentons is on its way to becoming synonymous with innovation in the legal profession.”

Those innovations include using tools and technologies “that law firms can develop to smartly capture” information then “curate it and provide clients with a vast amount of information … and deliver it in a very effective way that is almost a do-it-yourself way,” he said in a 2015 interview with BigLaw Business .

In August, Fernandez was appointed to a 1-year term on the governing council of the American Bar Association Center for Innovation. The 14-member governing council, together with its advisory council, directs the center’s activities.

Prior to joining Dentons, Fernandez was assistant secretary of commerce for economic development in the Obama administration. In that role, he helped modernize the Economic Development Administration and launched the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Fernandez also was a chief architect of the president’s regional innovation strategies.

Fernandez previously was mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, from 1996 to 2003, where he worked with the private sector to foster more than $243 million in private investments and created 3,700 jobs. He also developed a downtown revitalization plan that resulted in more than $100 million in new investments, according to his biography.

Fernandez, who first joined Dentons as U.S. chief innovation officer in April 2012, also served as of counsel for Krieg DeVault, an Indianapolis-based law firm advising private and governmental organizations on economic development, public finance and policy issues.

“Even before this appointment, in his role as chairman of Nextlaw Labs, John has helped Dentons become world-renowned as an innovator in the legal profession,” said Elliot Portnoy, Global CEO of Dentons. “Now we will unleash him to help us drive innovation in the firm across the entire globe.”


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