International Innovation winner – DentonsFinalists: Berwin Leighton Paisner; Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft; Cooley (joint winner); DLA Piper; Magnusson; Paul Hastings; Reed Smith (highly commended).

Dentons shared the International Law Firm Innovation award for the launch of NextLaw Labs – a legal tech business accelerator set up to develop, deploy and invest in new technologies that have the potential to fundamentally transform the practice of law.

Dentons is the lead supporter and investor in NextLaw Labs and the firm serves as a testing ground for the products and services under development. It recognises that the wider legal profession is typically slow to adopt new tech solutions, often because they do not have the resources or internal structures needed to encourage tech innovation.

Because NextLaw Labs is a standalone business with its own investment capital, it has the ability and resources to innovate on a broader scale. Dentons says the goal is to create an innovation ecosystem that incubates cutting-edge and disruptive ideas and accelerates their deployment in the market, whether through direct investments in existing companies, co-development with clients or creating their own products.

NextLaw Labs has already invested in ROSS, an IBM-Watson-powered legal adviser app designed to make legal research more efficient, and Appirio, a matter management platform that provides smart analytics and real-time transparency on legal fees. “What they are doing is genuinely innovative,” a judge commented.

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