Norton Rose Fulbright announced the launch of a legal tech subsidiary Wednesday, several months after teasing a fresh commitment to new models for legal service delivery as part of its move into Chicago.
Daniel Farris, who arrived at Norton Rose from K&L Gates in April, said that LX Studio is designed to provide a dedicated home for the development of legal technology as well as collaborations with outside legal tech providers and alternative legal service providers.
“One thing law firms often get wrong is a lot of the innovation efforts, especially at Am Law firms, are either committee-based or one-off hackathons. That’s not to me a sufficient commitment to innovation and changing the way services are delivered,” he said Wednesday. “Look at the most innovative companies: Amazon, Microsoft, Apple. They all separate innovation and new product development from the day-to-day operations.”
Farris said the LX Studio team is already involved in discussions with several outside providers about collaboration opportunities. The unit, which is owned by Norton Rose’s U.S. LLP, will also become home to some of the firm’s existing technology products, notably privacy compliance tool suite NT Analyzer.
Another part of the business will offer legal operations solutions for corporate legal departments, and LX Studio may also look to invest in new legal technology or alternative legal service offerings.
“The goal is to push the firm itself and this new entity to think about the way client services are offered, what those offerings are, what the client experience is, and to align legal service broadly with what client needs are,” Farris said.
While several other law firm subsidiaries—like Reed Smith’s Gravity Stack, Allen & Overy’s Advanced Delivery & Solutions, and Eversheds Sutherland’s Konexo—also focus on legal technology and alternative models of service delivery, Farris said that he and the firm are looking to draw on broader examples.
“We looked less at the competition and more at creating the model as we wanted it to be. There’s a decent amount of innovation theater in the industry and particularly in the Am Law [grouping of firms],” he said, conceding that there were still some “good models out there.”
While LX Studio will initially be managed by a board composed of firm lawyers and professional staff, Farris is looking to hire full-time employees, likely in Chicago and Texas, to guide the subsidiary.
Norton Rose Fulbright entered Chicago in mid-April with the hire of 11 attorneys from K&L Gates, DLA Piper and Polsinelli.
At the time, Farris touted the novel location of the office in Fulton Market, a former warehouse area on the city’s Near West Side that’s now popular with tech startups as well as giants like Google, McDonald’s and Mondelez. He said the decision to become the first large law firm to take space in Fulton Market was representative of a broader interest in leaning into new approaches like legal workflow management, contract management and legal technology.
“It’s consistent with what we really want to do in Chicago and with this first post-pandemic office and the direction the firm is heading,” he said.