Legal Business

Former banking chief Trahair takes the helm of A&O’s consulting and tech arm

Former banking chief Trahair takes the helm of A&O’s consulting and tech arm

Andrew Trahair, Allen & Overy’s (A&O) former banking co-head, has been enlisted to head the firm’s Advanced Delivery technology and consulting group a week after its Peerpoint chief executive stood down.

Trahair, who was co-head of A&O’s banking practice from 2008 to 2016, will lead the firm’s dedicated resources and technology services group, which includes flexible lawyering platform Peerpoint and tech innovator Fuse.

Trahair, who has been at the firm for nearly three decades, was also in the running for managing partner but was pipped to the post by Andrew Ballheimer in 2016.

The move comes after Richard Punt, chief executive of Peerpoint, last week stepped down from his role after more than four years. Peerpoint founder and managing director Ben Williams and Asia-Pacific head Carolyn Aldous will take his place.

The Magic Circle firm is aiming to increase crossover between these tech initiatives with its mainstream legal advisory services to expedite the creation of new client solutions.

The Advanced Delivery group will work closely with the A&O’s regulatory tech division, the Markets Innovation Group; Consulting, its strategic advisory and consulting arm; and its online cross border legal information subscription business, aosphere.

Angela Clist, A&O’s securitisation partner and co-head of the global financial institutions group, has also been appointed as head of the Legal Services Centre, also part of the Advanced Delivery Group.

She will take over the role at the firm’s cost-efficient hub in Belfast to replace Jane Townsend when she retires.

The group also includes the eDiscovery team (offering document review and analysis for litigation and investigations), the Project Management Office (managing matters that involve scoping, planning, budgeting, executing and reviewing) and the Legal Technology Group.

Wim Dejonghe, A&O’s global senior partner, commented: ‘Advanced resourcing, technology and our client solution capabilities are core to the firm’s strategic vision. These senior appointments reflect the seriousness of our commitment to accelerate our level of investment in these areas.’

Trahair said: ‘Allen & Overy is committed to innovation and we are widely recognised for being a market leader in advanced resourcing, technology and client solutions. Our Advanced Delivery group is part of our forward looking philosophy that allows us to align our expertise and tackle client challenges in a way that goes beyond what law firms have conventionally done.’

Dejonghe said of Punt’s exit: ‘Richard has been instrumental in the success of Peerpoint, which is the market-leading consultant lawyer business and is at the heart of A&O’s Advanced Delivery capability. We will miss his energy and intellect and wish him every success in the future.’

Legal Business

White & Case duo among four solicitors made up in reduced 2018 silk round

White & Case duo among four solicitors made up in reduced 2018 silk round

White & Case arbitration partners Dipen Sabharwal (pictured) and Aloke Ray make up half of the solicitor-advocates taking silk in this year’s Queen’s Counsel (QC) appointments, with 108 making the cut overall.

Completing the all-male group of solicitor-advocates taking silk were Allen & Overy partner Mark Levy and Stephen Fietta, founder of disputes boutique Fietta.

Sabharwal is head of White & Case’s EMEA international arbitration practice, and was promoted to partner in 2012. Ray joined the firm in 1999, and was promoted in 2006.

Sabharwal described taking silk as ‘the ultimate badge of recognition’. Ray, meanwhile, told Legal Business: ‘The pleasure and privilege comes from the fact it is associated with the high quality standard of work we do as a firm. Not all clients will react the same, but I can’t see how the extra recognition would hurt.’

The four solicitors appointed in this round marks the third consecutive year of decline, however: five solicitors took silk in 2017, and six the year before.

Solicitors were far more successful on average this year, however, with four out of five succeeding in their applications. Last year, only half of the ten solicitor applicants were successful.

There were also significantly less overall appointments, falling 9% to 108 from 119. There was an even greater fall in applicants, however, to 240 from 272.

Five barristers’ chambers shared the honour of having the highest number of tenants take silk: Brick Court Chambers, 39 Essex Chambers, 2 Hare Court, Red Lion Chambers and Littleton Chambers each had four barristers appointed.

It continues a strong run for Red Lion Chambers, which topped the list outright last year with six barristers taking silk. For elite London set Brick Court Chambers, it is a return to form after only one tenant was made up last year.

Male appointees far outweighed successful female applicants: 78 to 30. Women were more successful on average though, with 55% of female applicants making the cut compared to 42% for men.

Ethnic minority representation remained sluggish, with 13 out of 30 non-white applicants taking silk compared to 18 out of 33 last year.

Sir Alex Allan, chair of the Queen’s Counsel Selection Panel, commented: ‘We remain concerned that the number of female applicants remains comparatively low, but I am pleased that of those women who did apply, well over 50% were successful. I was also pleased to note that the number of BAME applicants appointed was in proportion to their representation amongst applicants, and amongst the relevant cohort of the profession.’

Sabharwal added: ‘The Queen’s Counsel Appointments and the Bar Council have been making strenuous efforts in improving diversity in recent years. Why the needle isn’t moving in the right direction is a complex story, but perhaps it’s a case of laying the groundwork now for a better result in a few years’ time.’

The silk swearing-in ceremony will be held on 11 March 2019.

For a longer read on the pageantry and magic of the ceremony, read ‘The Silk Round: One fine day’.


The full list of appointments (in alphabetical order):  

Zubair Ahmad, 2 Hare Court

Narita Bahra, 2 Hare Court

James Bailey, Wilberforce Chambers

Charles Banner, Landmark Chambers

William Bennett, 5RB

Balraj Bhatia, No. 1 High Pavement Chambers

Anna Boase, One Essex Court

Tim Buley, Landmark Chambers

Edmund Burge, Five St Andrew’s Hill

Peter Burns, Byrom Street Chambers

Victoria Butler-Cole, 39 Essex Chambers

John Cammegh, 9 Bedford Row

Giles Cannock, Kings Chambers

Lorraine Cavanagh, St John’s Buildings

Mark Chacksfield, 8 New Square

Richard Chapman, 18 St John Street Chambers

Nicholas Corsellis, QEB Hollis Whiteman

Catherine Cowton, Queen Elizabeth Building

Nicholas Craig, 3 Verulam Buildings

Timothy Cray, 6KBW College Hill

Clifford Darton, Ely Place Chambers

Andrew de Mestre, 4 Stone Buildings

Peter de Verneuil Smith, 3 Verulam Buildings

Katherine Deal, 3 Hare Court

Kevin Dent, 5 St Andrew’s Hill

Thomas Dumont, Radcliffe Chambers

Rory Dunlop, 39 Essex Chambers

David Durose, Furnival Chambers

Nigel Edwards, St Pauls Chambers

David Emanuel, Garden Court Chambers

Stephen Fietta, Fietta

Dean George, 2 Bedford Row

Katherine Goddard, Bank House Chambers

Michael Goodwin, Red Lion Chambers

Nina Grahame, Garden Court North Chambers

Margaret Gray, Brick Court Chambers

Jaime Hamilton, Nine St John Street

Jonathan Hand, Outer Temple Chambers

Mark Harries, Carmelite Chambers

Christopher Harris, 3 Verulam Buildings

Alec Haydon, Brick Court Chambers

Thomas Hickman, Blackstone Chambers

Isabel Hitching, Crown Office Chambers

Fiona Horlick, Outer Temple Chambers

Mozammel Hossain, 187 Fleet Street

Nicola Howard, 25 Bedford Row

Nicholas Isaac, Tanfield Chambers

Sarah Jones, Pump Court Chambers

Robert Kellar, 1 Crown Office Row

Charlotte Kilroy, Doughty Street Chambers

Ronit Kreisberger, Monckton Chambers

Lindsay Lane, 8 New Square

James Leabeater, 4 Pump Court

Mark Levy, Allen & Overy

David Lewis, Hardwicke

Richard Littler, Exchange Chambers

Dale Martin, Littleton Chambers

Jane McCafferty, 11KBW

Constance McDonnell, Serle Court

Nicholas Medcroft, Fountain Court Chambers

Christina Michalos, 5RB

Sian Mirchandani, 4 New Square

Keir Monteith, Garden Court Chambers

Giles Mooney, 9 Gough Square

Alison Morgan, 6KBW College Hill

Aparna Nathan, Devereux Chambers

Michelle Nelson, Red Lion Chambers

Brian Nicholson, 11 South Square

Robert Palmer, Monckton Chambers

Christopher Paxton, Red Lion Chambers

Alan Payne, 5 Essex Court Chambers

Simon Pentol, 25 Bedford Row

Fionn Pilbrow, Brick Court Chambers

Nigel Povoas, 7 Bedford Row

Steven Powles, Doughty Street Chambers

Sarah Pritchard, Kings Chambers

Aloke Ray, White & Case

Jonathan Rees, Churchers Solicitors

Jamie Riley, Littleton Chambers

James Rivett, Pump Court Tax Chambers

James Roberts, 1 King’s Bench Walk

Daniel Robinson, Red Lion Chambers

Dipen Sabharwal, White & Case

Daniel Saoul, 4 New Square

Diya Sen Gupta, Blackstone Chambers

Mohinderpal Sethi, Littleton Chambers

Daniel Shapiro, Crown Office Chambers

Neil Sheldon, 1 Crown Office Row

Nicholas Sidall, Littleton Chambers

Katherine Sloane, Monckton Chambers

Julia Smart, Furnival Chambers

Christopher Smith, Essex Court Chambers

Jessica Stephens, 4 Pump Court

John Thackray, Wilberforce Chambers

David Thomas, 39 Essex Chambers

James Todd, 39 Essex Chambers

Stephanie Tozer, Falcon Chambers

William Upton, Six Pump Court

Guglielmo Verdirame, 20 Essex Street

Jeremy Wainwright, 3 Temple Gardens

Victoria Wakefield, Brick Court Chambers

Robert Walton, Landmark Chambers

David Whittaker, 2 Hare Court

Adam Wolanski, 5RB

Damian Woodward-Carlton, 42 Bedford Row

Richard Wormald, Three Raymond Buildings

David Yates, Pump Court Tax Chambers

Hossein Zahir, Garden Court Chambers

Legal Business

A&O opening Fuse tech lab for third round as it partners on £1.2m AI legal services project

A&O opening Fuse tech lab for third round as it partners on £1.2m AI legal services project

Allen & Overy (A&O) will open its technology incubator space Fuse to a third group of companies from early next year, as it partners with a University of Oxford AI project.

The firm announced today (December 13) that applications to enter Fuse will be welcomed from companies until 25 January. A selection pitch to the firm will follow in February before successful applicants move into the space shortly after. Both early stage and mature companies can apply, joining Fuse for about six months.

Shruti Ajitsaria, head of Fuse, commented: ‘Fuse acts as a radar enabling us to understand what is out there in terms of technology-driven solutions to the challenges that our lawyers and clients face every day. Selecting a new cohort will enable us to continue to be a destination and a collaborative partner for best-in-class tech companies with whom we find synergies.’

The firm rewired its Fuse initiative last April, when the incubator announced a host of established names to take part in the second cohort. Last time around incumbent companies Avvoka, Legatics and Nivaura all retained their places, while Bloomsbury AI, Neota Logic and the highly-rated Kira Systems made up the new additions. The second cohort also saw companies without an explicit legal focus win spots, such as AI company Signal Media.

Magic Circle counterparts Slaughter and May and technology powerhouse Thomson Reuters are both primed to launch their own tech incubators next year, directly competing with established names such as Mishcon de Reya’s MDR LABS and Dentons’ Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures.

A&O, meanwhile, has also been named a partner to the University of Oxford’s AI and legal services project. The project was recently awarded £1.2m by the Economic and Social Research Council, which will be used to fund the ‘Unlocking the Potential of AI for English Law’ project.

The initiative will see the university’s law, economics, social policy, computer science and education departments collaborate. The research team will then work with private-sector partners to address research questions such as AI’s potential for dispute resolution and applying AI to legal reasoning. A&O joins Slaughters, The Law Society and Thomson Reuters, among others, as project partners.

Legal Business

Banking and finance focus: Back to the future

Banking and finance focus: Back to the future

‘The truth is no-one’s got the faintest idea what finance practices will look like in the future,’ shrugs Tony Bugg, Linklaters’ head of banking, when asked to describe a top City finance practice in 2030. Of the dozens of London finance chiefs and partners to whom Legal Business posed the question, Bugg’s take is at least one of the more candid.

If the last decade is any guide, the finance world will be girding itself for more wrenching change. The post-banking crisis environment has seen a dramatic increase in regulation and oversight of banks and helped encourage the growth of institutions filling the void as senior lenders retrench.

Legal Business

Disputes round-up: Supreme Court loss for Pfizer as Mishcon’s Levitt QC returns to the Bar

Disputes round-up: Supreme Court loss for Pfizer as Mishcon’s Levitt QC returns to the Bar

Allen & Overy (A&O) client Pfizer has lost a landmark Supreme Court battle against a host of manufacturers, leaving it vulnerable to substantial financial claims.

In a judgment handed down yesterday (14 November), the Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that Pfizer’s patent for its pregabalin pain relief product was invalid. Branded as ‘Lyrica’, the pregabalin-based drug is used to treat neuropathic pain as well as generalised anxiety disorder and epilepsy.

The patent was ruled invalid because it did not support the use of neuropathic pain, meaning that generic manufacturers such as Actavis (now called Allergan) and Mylan, who were respondents in the case, will now be able to produce their own pregabalin products.

The NHS also now has the right to claim against Pfizer, after incurring unnecessary extra costs for using the more expensive Lyrica brand rather than a cheaper alternative.

Linklaters IP partner Yohan Liyanage told Legal Business: ‘Secondary medical use patents such as these are very important for pharmaceutical companies, and the judgment indicated that the threshold for obtaining them is higher than previously thought. The decision makes it harder for innovative pharmaceutical companies to enforce the patents, so the NHS and generics are the real winners.’

Mylan was represented by Taylor Wessing in the dispute, led by partner Matthew Royle, while Actavis was advised by Powell Gilbert.

Meanwhile, Mishcon de Reya partner and white collar crime head Alison Levitt QC has announced she is leaving to join criminal defence set 2 Hare Court later this month.

Levitt QC, who took silk in 2008, founded Mishcon’s white collar crime team in 2014. During her time at the firm she conducted many murder trials, as well as the internal investigation of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan which led to the sacking of partner Mark Hastings due to ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

Mishcon partner Jo Rickards, who joined the firm in January 2017, will now lead the white collar crime practice.

Levitt QC told Legal Business: ‘Mishcon is an incredibly hard place to leave. The firm has wonderful people and a really exciting environment. But I needed to go back to being an advocate, which was not possible here.’

She added: ‘Jo Rickards is a natural leader and a great colleague, she is going to take the white collar team to the next level.’

Finally, City outfit Edwin Coe has become the latest firm to launch a group action claim on behalf of truck owners who were victims of a price-fixing cartel.

In July 2016, the European Commission (EC) found truck manufacturers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF had operated a 14-year price-fixing cartel. As a result, the EC fined the cartelists a record-breaking €2.93bn, aside from MAN, which under EU leniency rules received full immunity for revealing the existence of the cartel.

Edwin Coe is now urging businesses who purchased a truck between 1997 and 2012 to join its group action, which is being funded by litigation financier Affiniti Finance. The funding means that clients can opt-in under a ‘no-win, no fee’ arrangement.

In July last year, competition boutique Hausfeld partnered with litigation funder Burford Capital to finance UK claimants who wanted to pursue follow-on damages claims as a result of the cartel.

Legal Business

Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields

Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields

Nathalie Tidman looks at the struggle for the City elite as US players dominate home and away

‘People like me, making the switch from the Magic Circle to a US firm – a Kirkland, a Latham, a White & Case – did so because being a powerhouse in the US is critical to becoming a truly global law firm.’

Legal Business

Deal watch: City high-flyers land jumbo £4.4bn BA pension deal as Blackstone’s buying spree continues

Deal watch: City high-flyers land jumbo £4.4bn BA pension deal as Blackstone’s buying spree continues

City heavyweights Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance (CC) and Eversheds Sutherland have landed key roles on Legal & General’s £4.4bn buy-in of the British Airways pension scheme as advisers cash in on a brace of Blackstone deals.

UK insurer Legal & General is taking on £4.4bn of historic pension liabilities relating to the Airways Pension Scheme (APS) in a bulk annuity designed to reduce risk in the scheme.

A&O and Eversheds are advising the trustees, with A&O’s team led by insurance partner Philip Jarvis and counsel Kate McInerney. For their part, Anthea Whitton and Francois Barker are heading the Eversheds team.

The CC team advising Legal & General is being led by corporate partner Katherine Coates and pensions partner Sarah McAleer.

The deal also covers existing longevity reinsurance contracts of roughly £1.7bn entered into by APS via a captive insurer with Canada Life Reinsurance and PartnerRe, which were incorporated into the buy-in arrangement. Closing of the deal will mean that APS is now 90% hedged against all longevity risk.

‘This deal is very significant in the market and part of a trend of which there are push and pull factors,’ one City partner told Legal Business. ‘On the push side, there are trustees out there looking to de-risk and on the pull, market conditions are making deals like this economically viable transactions.’

APS was established in 1948 and it was closed to new members from 31 March 1984. The scheme had 24,196 members, of whom 1.4% were active members, 3.6% deferred members and 95% pensioners.  At the end of March 2018, APS had assets totalling £7.6bn.

Elsewhere, the blistering private equity market saw A&O win the mandate to advise private equity giant Blackstone on its €1bn acquisition of a majority stake in Baltic bank Luminor. The deal involves funds managed by Blackstone and other institutional investors acquiring a 60% stake in the bank, with Nordic banks Nordea and DNB each retaining a 20% stake.

A&O’s private equity partner Karan Dinamani led on the deal – the Magic Circle firm’s inaugural deal for Blackstone on the buyout side – which builds on a long-standing relationship acting for Blackstone’s lenders on real estate transactions.

Commenting on the frothy PE market, Dinamani told Legal Business: ‘A lot of private equity players are looking to acquire right now and the London market is roaring. The fact that a private equity player is acquiring a majority in an European Central Bank regulated bank makes the deal interesting and complex.’

With €15bn of assets, Luminor was created in 2017 through a combination of Nordea and DNB’s operations in the Baltics.

Meanwhile, a £1.5bn deal that saw Blackstone Property Partners and Telereal Trillium acquire Network Rail’s commercial business estate sealed roles for Kirkland & Ellis, CC, Eversheds and Gowling WLG.

CC and Eversheds acted as legal advisors to Network Rail, with CC’s team comprising partners Franc Peña, Angela Kearns and Adrian Levy and Nick Bartlett leading for Eversheds.

Kirkland and Gowling advised buyers Telereal and Blackstone, with the Kirkland team led by corporate partner Michael Steele and including corporate partner Carlos Gil Rivas. Mike Twinning led the Gowling team.

The portfolio includes 5,200 properties, the majority of which are converted railway arches.

The sites are being sold on a leasehold basis, with Network Rail retaining access rights for the future operation of the railway. The proceeds are being put towards the UK railway upgrade plan.

Legal Business

Draining the swamp – Do NDAs represent a #MeToo problem for the profession?

Draining the swamp – Do NDAs represent a #MeToo problem for the profession?

A light has lately shone on a legal document which, by definition, should never bask in the sunshine. The saga, which was to trigger reverberations concerning abusive behaviour in many industries – and lawyers’ role in drafting gagging orders – began in October 2017, with disclosures by British producer Zelda Perkins (pictured).

In written evidence to MPs, Perkins called the gagging order she signed nearly 20 years ago with her former boss Harvey Weinstein amid sexual harassment allegations ‘stringent and thoroughly egregious’.

Legal Business

A&O matches Magic Circle’s sluggish gender pay gap progress after finally releasing partner pay stats

A&O matches Magic Circle’s sluggish gender pay gap progress after finally releasing partner pay stats

Allen & Overy’s (A&O) response to criticism over its failure to disclose the pay gap between male and female partners has revealed slow progress on a par with its Magic Circle peers.

The UK pay gap report for 2018, published today (6 September), for the first time includes the disparity between A&O’s female and male partnership and reveals men at the firm are overall paid on average 61.2% more than women. When taken on a median basis, the 2018 disparity is reduced to 39%.

A&O’s latest report also says female partners – which make up just 20% of the partnership over the last two years – are paid on average 15.9% less than male counterparts this year, an improvement on the 19.7% gap in 2017.

The Magic Circle firm was singled out by MPs recently over its failure to disclose its 2017 partnership pay figures when prompted to earlier this year.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s report, published on 2 August, singled out A&O’s inability to publish partner gender pay gap data: ‘The exclusion of the highest paid people in organisations makes a nonsense of efforts to understand the scale of, and reasons behind, the gender pay gap.’

Sacha Hardman, A&O’s global HR director, told Legal Business the decision to publish partner pay disparity now was not in response to criticism levelled at the firm over failing to do so earlier: ‘It has always been our intention to report the data in a more timely fashion, in line with our annual financial results.’

The report states: ‘Our overall gender pay gap is more pronounced when we include our partners because we have a much higher proportion of men than women in our partnership, as well as a higher number of men in the most senior partner positions. We are focused on reducing this year on year and know that achieving real progress relies on improving the gender balance at the most senior levels of our business.’

A&O’s latest report includes 2017 figures comparable with those Magic Circle counterparts have already disclosed. These show that for the 2017 financial year, the overall gap between male and female pay was 65%, a disparity which narrowed to 42.1% on a median basis.

On a like-for-like basis, Linklaters’ 2017 gender pay gap, including partners, stood at 60.3% and Clifford Chance’s was 66.3% in favour of men. In a similar vein, Slaughter and May admitted an average 61.8% pay gulf and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer a 60.4% disparity.

Hardman was upbeat about the A&O’s prospect of addressing the problem of having too few women in the partnership: ‘The concerns are being tackled on all management levels, not just on [senior partner] Wim [Dejonghe] and [managing partner] Andrew [Ballheimer’s] level. It’s a real challenge and leadership is very focused on achieving this.’

A&O made up only two women in its last promotions round in April, despite the same month ramping up its diversity drive, including opening a so-called ‘hub’ office in southwest London’s Vauxhall to facilitate remote working. Dejonghe simultaneously set a target for 30% of partnership candidates to be women, starting by 2021.

The firm has also taken the unusual step of reporting the pay gap based on ethnicity, relating to the 14% of A&O’s UK partners and employees which are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME). The average pay gap between BAME and non-BAME employees was 21.6% in 2018 but swung the other way in favour of BAME employees on a median basis to -26.8%. This marks a slight improvement on 2017 when BAME employees represented only 12.8% of the workforce and the average pay gap stood at 22.8% (-14.8% on a median basis).

Legal Business

A&O Fuse start-up among first to take space at Barclays’ law tech lab

A&O Fuse start-up among first to take space at Barclays’ law tech lab

A start-up from Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Fuse innovation hub is one of the first 17 companies to join banking giant Barclays’ legal technology lab.

Deal platform Legatics, which has been in Fuse for each of A&O’s first two cohorts, has taken up residence at Barclays’ 100-person LawTech Eagle Lab in London’s Notting Hill. AI provider ayfie, contract generator Ginie AI, and document collaboration platform Annotate are the only other start-ups in the lab to have been named.

The bank’s law-tech space was first announced in April with backing from 13 law firms and several other industry players including the Law Society, PwC, start-up community Legal Geek, as well as the University of Liverpool and University College London.

It has now opened with its first four companies, which each pay between £150 and £350 a month for access to the space. Packages range from a hot-desking option for six days a month to a private office year-round.

Legatics head of business development Daniel Porus (pictured) told Legal Business the start-up’s growing team – soon to be ten staff – had taken up a desk with Barclays it will use at least once a week. The company had been impressed by the Eagle Labs space and was looking to move its entire operation there post-Fuse.

Fuse has capacity for about 30 people, with seven companies resident there after an eighth, Bloomsbury AI, in July joined social media giant Facebook in a deal reportedly worth between $23m and $30m.

Porus commented: ‘One of the things we really appreciate about Fuse is how valuable it is to physically sit next to other legal technology companies, and it’s the same for Barclays. It’s a lot more useful sitting next to someone else who’s going through similar challenges to you.’

A&O was among the firms which signed up to the Eagle Lab law-tech initiative, alongside Baker McKenzie, Brethertons, Capital Law, Clifford Chance (CC), Clyde & Co, DWF, Gowling WLG, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose Fulbright, Simmons & Simmons, SO Legal and TLT.

Porus added that there had been a strong level of engagement from the firms who had partnered with Barclays: ‘It has been great to see various law firms come together in Eagle Labs to discuss technology that Barclays is interested in.’

Ayfie is the most established of those joining the law-tech Eagle Lab, first founded in the US in 2009 and boasting more than 500 customers. It has developed a tool which combines natural language processing and linguistics to enable law firms to analyse unstructured data without having to train machine learning algorithms with large document sets.

Ayfie EMEA senior vice president of business development Peter Richards said: ‘Ayfie’s experience and technology combined with direct access to UK law firms and other technology vendors will uncover opportunities for both ayfie and the firms.’

The lab mirrors a network of other Eagle Labs Barclays has across the UK, originally converting old bank spaces to help start-up businesses. Barclays has already hosted three law-tech companies in its Eagle Labs, including Wavelength Law, Prose, and Aalbun.

It also builds on similar initiatives launched at law firms, including the aforementioned Fuse, Mishcon de Reya’s MDR LABS and Denton’s Nextlaw Labs and Nextlaw Ventures.

Barclays UK general counsel (GC) Stephanie Pagni commented: “Now that the first residents have moved into our LawTech Eagle Lab, we look forward to working with our partners to facilitate supporting their growth by providing them with an environment in which they are able to collaborate and learn fast.’