Clifford Chance (CC) has launched a new training contract focused on legal technology, as the firm looks to nurture up-and-coming talent with an aptitude for areas such as fintech, coding and artificial intelligence.

The pilot scheme, called IGNITE, will start in autumn 2021 and initially take on a cohort of five trainees.

The positions, which will be open to law and non-law students, will sit alongside CC’s existing training contracts, and include traditional seat rotations. CC currently offers up to 80 traditional trainee seats, though is set to expand that to 90.

At the end of the contract, successful trainees will have the opportunity to join one of CC’s key practice areas: capital markets, corporate, dispute resolution, employment, finance, real estate and tax.

CC UK managing partner Michael Bates said: “We know we must continually challenge ourselves to guide our clients through game-changing opportunities and risks, both now and into the future. Law tech is changing the face of our industry and we want to be at the forefront of that change. We’re committed to driving a culture that embraces digital thinking across each of our practice areas and we hope that these trainees will go to make significant change in their practice areas upon qualifying.”

IGNITE will begin accepting applications to the scheme from today (1 August).

The news comes after CC’s recent launch of two new ‘innovation units’ – Clifford Chance Applied Solutions and Clifford Chance Create – to encourage experimentation at the firm. The Create unit is focused on fleshing out the firm’s technology ecosystem and partner network, while Applied Solutions is dedicated to helping build and scale out technology systems for clients.

The magic circle firm also recently launched a two-month partnership scheme with UK legal tech company Lexoo, which will offer CC’s trainees the opportunity to work at the company and receive training in coding and analytics.

CC’s move comes after magic circle rival Allen & Overy launched a new graduate scheme in London focused on legal technology and project management.

The two-year ‘Advanced Delivery’ graduate programme, which mirrors the structure of a training contract, will see four graduates undertake four six-month rotations in the firm’s project management office and legal tech team, as well as gaining experience of other innovation-focused projects.