Addleshaw Goddard is revolutionising its trainee programme to promote legal technology as a potential career path for the next generation of lawyers.
Starting from September, the firm will offer a seat to trainees that will allow them to work within the in-house innovation and legal technology team as part of their standard training contract’s rotation.
The move will enable trainees to gain exposure to the group’s use of tech, with the possibility of qualifying within that unit should they wish. One trainee will be able to take up the offer every six-months, followed by another taking over right after.
The option differs to the firm’s existing “apprentice in law career pathway”, which allows individuals to work in the group in an alternative route to becoming a fully-qualified solicitor. There are currently three trainees in this cohort, who will all stay within the team once qualified.
“We look at the changing business models around Facebook, Google, Uber, Alibaba, Netflix and we realise that we have to react because those will be the clients in the future,” Kerry Westland, head of innovation and legal technology, told The Lawyer.
“People who are growing up with tech are future clients. And we, as lawyers, need to train our new joiners to understand that.”
Another initiative launched by the firm to boost legal technology is a programme of rolling secondments for associates, who can spend a six-month period collaborating with Westland’s team. Three associates joined this programme in June, focusing on how to use tech to deploy innovative client solutions and gain knowledge on coding and analytics.
Launched three years ago, the innovation and legal technology team currently houses 12 people, including three associates who, as part of the programme. volunteered to work full-time on tech instead of fee-earning. The group also consists of paralegal technologists, IT support and the three trainees who undertook their training contract solely in this area.
“It is a good opportunity to discover how the technology works. It allowed me to think more creatively about what we can offer to clients in terms of how we provide legal service,” Emma Wells, a finance banking associate who joined the programme, told The Lawyer.
“Almost in every meeting clients ask about legal tech. Having time away from fee-earning helps us think about new and improved solutions,” Ellen Catherall, another associate who took part in the initiative, added.
Addleshaw Goddard partnered up with digital training school Decoded to offer coding masterclasses to every trainee as part of their induction.
“As a firm we are dedicated to the development of our staff and coming up with new and innovative ways of doing this. Investing in our lawyers, creating new outside of the box roles and career paths and not being afraid to try something different is our mantra and something which we believe is vital in order to deliver the best service to our clients,” said chief operating officer Axel Koelsch.