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Freshfields gives power to associates to pitch for fintech clients

While other Legal Business 100 firms such as Slaughter and May and Simmons & Simmons are giving free legal advice to win over fintech clients, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer associates have been given the opportunity to pitch and win client relationships as part of a growing bid to win new clients in this area.

Around 25 associates across Freshfields are part of the initiative, which began when a client invited associate Adam Ryan to pitch alongside another associate, Claire Harrop. The pair now lead the fintech associate initiative.

Ryan (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Three years ago, when we realised where things were headed, we started an internal education campaign before taking our fintech practice out to clients. We met with regulators, we partnered with academics and legal tech start-ups, and created a network in that area. When we went out to clients to talk to them about the issues they were facing, it was a much more compelling conversation.’

The team has an annual budget and associates are rewarded with firm bonuses. The initiative was led by global head of fintech Richard Lister, with financial institutions co-heads Claire Wills in London, New York-based Valerie Ford Jacob and Christoph Gleske in Frankfurt overseeing the project.

Lister said: ‘Although partners gave broad guidance on the fintech strategy, we have deliberately empowered an associate group that has a deep interest in tech and financial services to drive the project – the obvious premise being that tech is now driving the careers of people in their 20s and 30s in a way that it never did before.’

Meanwhile, Allen & Overy (A&O) launched a new tech innovation space last month inviting tech companies to work with A&O lawyers, technologists, and the Magic Circle firm’s clients.

The new project, named Fuse, encourages collaboration to explore, develop and test legal, regulatory and deal-related solutions.

Tech companies can apply to work at A&O’s Bishops Square offices in a space accommodating 60 people. Applications open this month, with successful companies moving in to A&O in September.