Reed Smith, Other Law Firms Innovate to Boost Client Service

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An app developed by teams at Reed Smith that allows clients to assess risk from a suspected data breach highlights a new incentive program that rewards lawyers for working on innovative projects.

The global firm of more than 1,500 attorneys is among those in the legal space moving beyond streamlining routine services like document review and experimenting with tech to remake themselves and enhance how they deliver services.

Reed Smith attorneys can receive up to 50 hours of billable credit for participating in the initiative that started as a pilot last year, and is being relaunched on a larger scale.

“This is investing in the business to improve how things work, not pro bono work for clients,” Lucy Dillon, the firm’s chief knowledge officer, told Big Law Business.

“We are trying to improve the quality of our services and of our output, and technology helps us to do it more quickly and efficiently,” she said in an interview from her London base.

Lawyers for Hire, Compliance

Like Reed Smith, more firms have been experimenting with ways to enhance their relationships with clients.

In March, Hogan Lovells created a partnership with an outside provider to offer clients on-demand lawyers for hire. It has been so successful, said Stephen Allen, the firm’s head of legal services delivery in London. “We are planning to expand it to the United States and continental Europe starting this fall. Clients have shown a lot of interest so we are accelerating the rollout.”

Law firm Allen & Overy has a partnership with Deloitte accounting firm to support a compliance system to help client deals conform with relevant laws in whatever countries are involved in a deal or project. The firm, working with an outside provider, launched Margin Xchange, an online platform to assure legal conformity for documents related to derivatives.

The platform, said firm partner Jonathan Brayne, follows an earlier effort called MarginMatrix, a digital derivatives compliance system for major banks, introduced in 2016.

The firm, he said in an e-mail “is wide open to collaborating with other market participants.”

Drawing on its expertise in mergers and acquisitions, White & Case joined forces with a data services company and in January 2017 launched a free tool called the M&A Explorer, available on the law firm’s website to allow clients and the public to explore a decade’s worth of data about mergers and acquisitions.

Reed Smith is focusing on six projects, which include security data breach notifications, automating contracts and documents, and reviewing databases of previous cases to pinpoint trends in the managed care industry.

The projects were chosen from among 30 submitted. Reed Smith’s pilot effort, which ran from January to December 2017, drew 17 firm lawyers who worked 364 hours on the initial projects.

To encourage broader firm participation, the firm this year is allowing lawyers at all levels to take part and receive credit for the billable hours.

“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,” Reed Smith Global Managing Partner Sandy Thomas said May 15 in announcing the project relaunch.

Security Expertise

One effort, the app Breach RespondeRS, builds on Reed Smith’s expertise on security breach cases. Clients can consult the app to learn about related law notification requirements, which differ from state to state.

The information can help them decide whether, and how, to notify customers about data breaches that may have occurred. The app is available on the firm website.

“Almost every state in the United States has a data security breach law that requires notification when certain personal information is lost, stolen or misused,” said Mark S. Melodia, co-chair of the firm’s IP, Tech and Data practice group.

Lawyers working in its intellectual property, technology and data group worked with other firm teams to come up with the app, which was launched in 2017.

The app, Melodia said, was designed for mid-size companies and individuals. “The app is helping you understand an event that occurred and could present a legal risk to the company, and what the company or individual needs to do under the notification requirements in 50 states,” Melodia said.

The companies often do not have a well-developed response team, he said, “but we’ve found that even some pretty sophisticated clients felt there is some value added to checking with the app.”

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Elizabeth Olson at egolson1@gmail.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Casey Sullivan at cSullivan@bloomberglaw.com;