Slaughter and May has postponed its flagship tech programmes, Collaborate and Fast Forward, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both programmes were of keen interest to the legal technology community as they offer access to top clients and legal advice.
The Collaborate programme, aimed at developing legal tech companies, is currently suspended for a “number of weeks” according to a spokesperson for the firm. The timeline for the programme will remain under review on an ongoing basis, they added.
The firm had been due to select six to eight legal tech businesses to form its 2020 cohort this month.
In a statement on the Collaborate website, the firm said: “We are keen to commence the programme at a time when it is both safe to do so, and when we are able to offer our selected cohort members, our clients, and members of our advisory panel the best level of support and engagement around all things legal tech.
Launched last year, the Collaborate programme provides legal support and assistance to legal technology start-ups and scale-ups. Selected companies gain access to the firm’s lawyers and information security team, a sandbox environment to test products, and access to the firm’s collaboration spaces and meeting rooms.
A new addition for the 2020 programme will see successful applicants receiving advice from venture capitalist funds and other legal tech entrepreneurs on securing funding.
Last year the programme selected six startups after receiving more than 50 entries. Some of the firm’s clients, including GlaxoSmithKline, John Lewis, Santander, Standard Chartered and Vodafone had agreed to test and assess the small firms’ products in development.
Meanwhile, Slaughter and May’s Fast Forward programme has not yet been launched for this year, with plans currently paused, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The Fast Forward programme is geared towards emerging technology start-ups and scale-ups, particularly in the fintech sector. Launched in 2016, the scheme offers participants up to £30,000 in value-add services including legal support, coaching and access to the firm’s networks.
In March, Slaughters was one of the first U.K. firms to cancel its Easter work experience vacation programme as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move was followed by a number of other firms soon afterwards. Earlier in April, the firm also moved to suspend partner distributions.