Ashurst has announced the launch of Ashurst Advance, a new global team designed to pull together the disparate strands of the firm’s New Law service delivery mechanisms on a global basis.

As part of the move Ashurst has also launched an R&D capability. The firm did not divulge the size of the investment relating to R&D but said it would take the lead on the capture, evaluation and deployment of new ideas.

Glasgow managing partner Mike Polson and head of strategic projects Mark Higgs have been appointed directors of Ashurst Advance.

“What is really different about Ashurst Advance is the integrated approach to innovation in service delivery, application of new technologies and investment in R&D,” said Polson. “This combination will bring significant advantage to clients by ensuring that work of the highest quality is delivered by the right people, supported by cutting-edge technologies and robust process.”

“Embedding an R&D capability is an essential development for the firm and its clients,” added Higgs. “R&D is at the core of successful businesses in many other sectors but to date in legal it has rarely been given the focus it deserves. We have to keep evolving our approach to meet and guide client needs and the commitment to this area is a clear signal of Ashurst’s intention to take a lead on service innovation.”

Ashurst Advance will focus on three areas relating to the delivery of legal services: resources, process and technology.

The rapidly expanding team of legal analysts, led by Iain Brown in Glasgow, provides a global centre of excellence for recurring work to support the efficient execution of legal matters for clients.

The new service will include a team of specialist legal project managers, led from Sydney by Rachael Moore, which will ensure that client matters are managed in the most effective way possible. It will also look at how to build material process efficiency into the approach to legal matters.

The global legal technologist team, led by Tae Royle from Brisbane, will build automation into Ashurst’s legal services.

“We believe that we are the first firm to create such a clear, global platform to address the three areas that are current strategic imperatives for clients,” added Polson. “Ashurst Advance has significant scope for future development and we expect it to play a key role in the future success of our business.”

Ashurst launched in Glasgow in 2013, initially staffing the office with support staff before beginning to add a small number of qualified lawyers the following year.