What clients want from their lawyers is constantly evolving. We see it all the time. As well as legal advice, clients often also want help to design high-quality, cost-effective processes to resolve wider, complex business issues.

At Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), our dedicated Innovation Group works with our lawyers and clients to help identify opportunities for us to rethink what we do and how we do it, to deliver lasting value. The Innovation Group coordinates initiatives and projects across the firm to help us drive our business forward.

One such initiative is the launch of a new service, WBD Advance, a flexible solution that pulls together all of our key technology and business services that are becoming increasingly essential to clients alongside our traditional legal advice. These services include support for high-volume projects such as due diligence; document review; project and risk management of legal work; automation and process design; managing knowledge and information; and flexible resourcing including flexible lawyering options for in-house counsel.

WBD Advance will deliver these services through a multidisciplinary team of more than 100 people focused on developing new ways of working for clients – this includes lawyers, project managers, technologists, data analysts, knowledge managers and operations professionals.

Innovation comes from the ability to see things from a different perspective and that’s how WBD Advance was born. Bringing experts in from outside of the legal world brings a new dimension. Andy Layton, director of WBD’s Legal Solutions Centre, will be playing a key role in WBD Advance. Layton (pictured) joined the firm 18 months ago as operations director to shape the firm’s paralegal support centre (now the Legal Solutions Centre) and lead on the application of technology, legal project management and efficiency methodology to provide valuable solutions to clients’ issues. Previously, Layton worked for government business services provider UK Shared Business Services, where he was chief operating officer and also led technology and service improvements at the UK Trade Marks Registry at the Intellectual Property Office.

The Legal Solutions Centre is a team of more than 70 paralegals and legal executives, project managers, data analysts and client coordinators, which uses flexible resourcing and time-saving technology to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective service for large-scale volume projects. This team has been working with clients in various guises for more than seven years and the service it now offers is central to WBD and many of its key clients, particularly with the launch of WBD Advance.

The five main services offered through WBD Advance in the UK are:

Support for high volume projects – delivered through the Legal Solutions Centre. This is an established service providing support on e-disclosure, high-volume commercial disputes, real estate matters and, more recently, GDPR-related contract review and remediation.

Project management – project planning and management to support clients with delivering complex work on time, to budget and to a high standard using tried-and-tested, best-practice project and risk management approaches and tools. As part of this, WBD can deploy qualified project managers and analysts to help with planning and with risk mapping.

Legal process – legal process design and improvement for clients with large operations. The team will advise on the data flows needed to complete complex work and projects, ensuring that the right technology is being leveraged. Good process is central to reducing waste, increasing value and managing risk.

Advance insight – helping clients to stay up to date and compliant with the law, to devise, manage and deliver bespoke knowledge management products and also to provide management information in interactive formats, perform data analysis and provide a Key Client Coordination service. Through partnering with AI technologists and using data to predict outcomes and to help determine the right commercial approach to business problems, this will drive real value for clients.

GCSolutions flexible resourcing – providing seconded lawyers for clients to increase in-house capacity or cover gaps when needed. GCSolutions will offer affordable, scaleable services staffed by highly-qualified lawyers.

Nick Barwood (pictured above right) heads up WBD Advance and is a UK board member at WBD.