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In-house: Eleven firms get workspace on WeWork’s debut EMEA legal panel

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hogan Lovells are among 11 firms to have secured spots on WeWork’s first legal panel for the EMEA region, running for an initial two years.

The firms join Addleshaw Goddard, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Bird & Bird, CMS Cameron Mckenna Nabarro Olswang, DLA Piper, Eversheds Sutherland, McCann Fitzgerald, Shoosmiths and Simmons & Simmons.

WeWork declined to comment on any details about the panel, although Simmons confirmed it will undertake the workspace provider’s UK and Ireland operations in areas such as real estate and construction, and Bird & Bird will advise on commercial, corporate, data privacy and cyber security matters led by the co-head of the international retail and consumer group, Graeme Payne.

The panel follows the appointment of Sarah Nelson Smith (pictured) last October as WeWork’s first European GC from KFC where she was European legal chief.

Nelson Smith featured in this year’s GC Powerlist a few months after taking up her post and runs a legal team of 17 from London, with legal oversight for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The American start-up, which continues to grow rapidly after hitting the UK market in 2014, rents real estate from a landlord and then leases it on.

Simmons real estate partner Caroline Turner-Inskip said the firm would also be helping to design a tech platform for WeWork: ‘Simmons and Simmons have also been asked to assist in the design of a bespoke technology platform to track instructions and know-how to be used by all panel firms.  We look forward to continuing to deliver innovative legal solutions for WeWork, to help drive and support such a multi-faceted client relationship in the future,’ Turner-Inskip said.

In the GC Powerlist, Nelson Smith hinted at legal tech plans. ‘With a company growing this fast, you can’t expect to meet the demand placed on the legal team simply by continually hiring more people. That’s where strategic use of AI and alternative solutions become key,’ she said at the time.