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Baker McKenzie Innovation Program to Reimagine the Business of Law

  • Investment framework for innovation announced
  • Design Thinking-based client co-creation model for Services
  • First of kind partnership with leading edge consultancy, Peer Insight
  • New Innovation Committee launched
  • Long-term investment strategy for emerging technologies

Baker McKenzie today announced a global innovation program to address changing client needs, new industry dynamics, and the broader role of digitization across the economy.

A newly formed Innovation Committee will report to the Firm’s Executive Committee and ensure a Firm-wide approach to innovation is incorporated into every aspect of the business’s global operations.

The Innovation Committee will be led by EC member, Erik Scheer and Global Director of Operations, Jason Marty.

This transformation process is being brought to life with the help of Peer Insight, the Washington, DC-based consultancy known for applying Design Thinking to services and business models. The collaboration will see the world’s most international law firm work with an admired boutique consultancy to create and deploy a global innovation operating model. The scope includes initial projects to reinvent multiple practice areas and take bold steps to address long-term business changes.

Applying Design Thinking to client service will challenge the legal industry’s traditional capabilities-focused approach. Baker McKenzie’s innovation program will extend well beyond introducing new technology or other solutions and will start from and hinge around client challenges.

The Firm’s innovation framework is divided into multiple areas for investment, including:

Machine Learning
Applying current Artificial Intelligence tools for due diligence, contracts, e-discovery and any practice for which such technologies can ensure market-leading efficiency.  The Firm has deployed Relativity as its global e-Discovery platform to provide a common platform for clients worldwide and is in the process of doing the same for machine-learning based due diligence software to dramatically reduce lawyer time on transactions.

Services Transformation
Using the methods from Design Thinking to re-shape all aspects of the Firm’s client services and the business models necessary to support them.  Work with Peer Insight has begun on a ground-up review of a headline practice, focused around new ways to meet big common challenges faced by clients.

Technology Investments
Longer-term investments in advanced technologies and data management to prepare for significant changes these will bring to the industry.  A task force has already met with VCs, start-ups, and industry players and will be driving an investment strategy in emerging technology.

Our Firm has a proud history of innovation. We need to create an environment where fresh ideas are encouraged and established ways of doing work are challenged.
Paul Rawlinson, Global Chair of Baker McKenzie

Comprised of partners across a range of Practice Groups, the Committee of global and multi-jurisdictional Innovation ‘Architects’ will bring ideas together and deliver tangible solutions for the Firm’s clients and people. The team will ensure that innovation remains top of the agenda as a key component of the Firm’s long-term strategy.

Erik Scheer, Executive Committee member, explains: “Baker McKenzie has been at the forefront of innovation within the legal sector since our founding in 1949. We were the original global law firm, in fact for many years the only global law firm, the pioneers at entering new markets and disrupting traditional legal markets.

“And today, Innovation is top of our agenda. Why? Because it matters to our clients and because we believe the legal sector is ripe for change. Being a good lawyer is no longer enough. These are uncertain times for our global clients, in an increasingly complex world,  in an industry facing disruption.

“We need to re-design how we deliver legal advice in a way that makes sense for our clients. Our Innovation framework enables us to do exactly that.”

Jason Marty, who founded the Firm’s Global Services Belfast operation, an innovation hub now in operation for two years, said: “We consider ourselves to be leaders across the main components of innovation in the legal industry – project management, technology, knowledge management, pricing, process engineering, and alternative staffing.  This program brings these areas together and adds proven innovation methodologies that other industries have used for some years now.

“Applying client-centered design methods to re-imagining our services requires a ground-up approach to each area.  The result is a Baker McKenzie approach to innovation that will reap huge benefits for our clients and stand us in good stead during changing times for the legal industry.  Everything is on the table, even while we maintain top quality and client service excellence in our current work.”

Erik Scheer added: “This is obviously a significant financial investment for us, but along with resources we’re focused on collaboration and a truly client-centered approach to how we innovate.  We plan to be the firm that helps our clients navigate the problems they have and prepare for those they’ve not yet encountered in a rapidly changing world.”

The members of the Innovation Committee are:

Erik Scheer, Executive Committee, Amsterdam
Astrid Raetze, Banking & Finance, Sydney
Ben Allgrove, IP, London
Kirsten Malm, Tax, San Francisco
Manuel Meyer, M&A, Zurich
Danielle Valois, EMI/B&F, Rio de Janeiro (Trench, Rossi e Watanabe Advogados)
Theodore Ling, Trade & Commerce, Toronto
Andy Leck, IP, Singapore
Daniel Surowiec , Chief Information Officer
Jason Marty, Global Director of Operations


Kerry Thomson is a senior global communications manager in Baker McKenzie in United Kingdom.