Clyde & Co is to offer a trainee seat in its data lab offering as firms look to broaden the preparation they give their young lawyers to face complex client demands at the intersection of innovation and technology.

Starting March 2020, the firm will introduce a six-month seat within its data lab, which is helmed by insurance partner Mark Wing and was launched in 2017 to apply machine learning solutions to legal problems. As part of the seat, trainees will be involved in data-led projects around new client-facing products.

Wing and his six-strong team, which includes four machine learning engineers and two paralegals, collaborated with the firm’s ‘early careers’ team for a year to structure the seat. Alongside Wing’s core team, the lab regularly opens its doors to computer science students from University College London, who work on projects part-time.

The initiative is among a series of developments stemming from the firm’s innovation strategy, which is set out by an innovation board that includes, alongside Wing, partners Nigel Brook, Lee Bacon, Carolena Gordon, Leon Alexander, Patrick Murphy, as well as chief strategy officer William Isaac, global chief information officer Thimjon and chief operating officer Nick Roberts.

The firm recently brought in data expert Austen King from Barclays in a newly-created role to oversee the development of an analytics team. It also houses Clyde Code, a consultancy for smart contracts, blockchain and tokens.

Training contract seats outside traditional areas of practice are increasingly common within commercial firms. For example, Reed Smith introduced an innovation seat in September 2019.