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Profiles compiled by RSG Consulting researchers and FT editors

The list is divided to reflect two sides of the legal profession. A panel of judges chose a winner from each


Law firms

WINNER: Stephen Allen
Global head of legal operations and innovation lead, Hogan Lovells

In three years at Hogan Lovells, Mr Allen has expanded the legal project management team, created a legal delivery centre in Birmingham and formed partnerships with legal services companies to expand the firm’s delivery options and technology capability.

Of the projects he has pioneered, he says introducing a data science capability was the riskiest. This involved developing models and algorithms to use in decision making and required him to overcome hurdles such as convincing the finance teams to share their data.

Mr Allen co-founded the Bionic Lawyer Project, which aims to address problems facing the profession, from bias and privilege to an overreliance on email.

Shruti Ajitsaria
Partner and head of Fuse, Allen & Overy

After 12 years as a derivatives lawyer, in late 2016 Ms Ajitsaria helped set up Fuse, the firm’s legal technology innovation hub, now nurturing its third cohort of start-ups.

She has made Fuse’s impact felt across the firm’s 5,500 staff and 40 countries. Fuse has toured in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific to educate the firm’s international lawyers and clients. The initiative has made legal technology a key element of the firm’s work.

Ms Ajitsaria sits on the UK LawTech Delivery Panel, which includes members of the government and the judiciary, and aims to drive the adoption of technology in the legal sector.

Charlotte Baldwin
Chief digital and technology officer, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Ms Baldwin has helped nurture talent and encourage different types of problem-solving at her firm. She has built a team of developers, data analysts, continuous improvement experts, lawyers and other technologists to carry out the firm’s transformation strategy.

She led the creation of an open-plan, flat-structured technology and innovation office area in London and a digital lab in Berlin to allow collaboration between lawyers and technologists.

Jonathan Patterson
Managing director, DWF Ventures

As founder and managing director of the firm’s Ventures business, Mr Patterson has helped develop an innovative culture. DWF Ventures is an innovation consultancy and a research and development arm. It also provides services directly to clients and generates revenues.

A collaboration with LEx Open Source, Radiant Law and Simmons Wavelength created the Legal Design Challenge, a forum to explore ways of redesigning legal contracts and solving common challenges.

He also worked with Freshfields and the University of Manchester to design the curriculum for a new legal technology module for the university’s LLB degree programme.

Nick West
Chief strategy officer, Mishcon de Reya

Mr West has overseen the development of legal technology and redesigned processes to increase efficiencies and ensure lawyers can focus on improving client experience.

He leads the firm’s technology and strategy groups as well as its research and development arm, MDR R&D, which has helped develop new products and transform the firm’s real estate services.

He was the architect behind MDR Discover, a partnership between the firm, ediscovery provider Inventus and document review platform Relativity, to create a new subsidiary.

Legal services

WINNER: Aine Lyons
Vice-president and deputy general counsel, global legal operations, VMware

Starting at VMware in 2007 as director and assistant general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Ms Lyons was charged with pioneering legal operations at the global software company. Her accomplishments include rebuilding the company’s contract lifecycle ecosystem, which has reduced escalations by 74 per cent, and building a legal outsourcing team, which has saved $4.8m.

Ms Lyons is a member of the VMinclusion Council, which aims to improve diversity and inclusion at VMware. She co-created a company-wide programme to increase the recruitment, hiring, promotion and retention of female talent. She is also the founding member and European lead of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

Lee Callaghan
General counsel, international markets, and group competition counsel, Aviva

Mr Callaghan has improved teamwork across departments and cultures.

He organised a virtual legal secondee network, which he believes is the biggest risk he has taken in his current role. The network allows for secondees to work in the legal team for three to six months. They stay in their current team, while dedicating 20 per cent of their time to the new legal role. The network has exposed staff to different areas of law while minimising disruption to the business.

Under Mr Callaghan’s influence the Aviva in-house team hosted a “Mission: Not-Impossible” hackathon, where lawyers and other departments tackled customer-related problems.

Chris Grant
Director — head of relationship management/head of Eagle Lab LawTech Innovation, Barclays

Mr Grant has changed traditional structures in his role managing the bank’s relationship with panel firms. “It was not long ago we gathered firms and lawyers in one place and they would sit in near silence. This has completely changed and we have difficulty stopping them from talking,” he says.

Initiatives such as the Innovation Consortium, bringing together the panel firms with other industry experts to find new ways to improve legal services and solve common problems, have helped transform the bank’s relationship with external counsel and ensure transparency.

Mr Grant also runs Eagle Labs, a start-up incubator programme with 22 hubs in the UK.

Rajeev Merkhedkar
General counsel and vice-president, Nokia Corporation

Mr Merkhedkar focuses on enabling operational improvements, moving his team away from routine work to focus on strategic and high-value matters, shifting legal operations closer to Nokia’s business teams. He played a leading role in the establishment of a legal delivery centre and the automation of contracting.

Mr Merkhedkar oversaw the integration of Alcatel-Lucent into Nokia following the $16.6bn acquisition. He created a diversified team with different cultural and professional backgrounds, tapping into a wider range of perspectives and viewpoints for the business.

Kerry Phillip
Group legal director, Vodafone

Ms Phillip implemented a new contract lifecycle management system, launched a successful diversity and inclusion initiative, and simplified other internal processes.

The new contracting system allows the legal and sales teams to automate reporting and improves its ability to manage renewals. It has reduced time to contract by 30 per cent and increased billing accuracy. It also allows the team to make data-driven decisions.

The Vodafone women’s network set up by Ms Phillip to help improve gender diversity has more than 2,000 members in 20 countries working towards the goal of reaching 30 per cent of senior roles held by women by 2020.

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