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Akerman Announces Plans to Launch First Law Firm R&D Council
Law2023 Leaders Discover Seven Imperative Rules for the Future of Legal Practice
April 22, 2014
The convergence of technology and economics has triggered new market demands, providing the legal industry with unprecedented opportunities to reshape how lawyers engage with clients and each other. To embrace the resulting disruption in the industry, Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, today revealed its plan to launch the first law firm R&D Council, dedicated to creating new offerings that advance the business of law and redefine service delivery models, jointly helping Akerman and its clients overcome future barriers to innovation and growth.

Akerman's R&D Council will feature the framework and support for innovation often seen in start-up incubators throughout the U.S., along with the resources and intensity of R&D projects most commonly initiated by technology companies. The Council will be charged with identifying and cultivating promising ideas that will enable the firm to deliver its services in new and even more meaningful ways. To ensure that client needs are at the center of the firm's research and development activities, the Council will include a select group of Akerman clients who will serve alongside the firm's professionals.

"Akerman lawyers are intensely focused on what lies around the corner for our clients," said Andrew Smulian, Akerman Chairman and CEO. "With the firm's R&D Council, our lawyers will carry Akerman innovation beyond the courtroom to the boardroom. This effort will help us better anticipate and react to the rapid changes happening in the market while also serving as a catalyst for break-through thinking. While the formation of Akerman's R&D Council may be pioneering today, we foresee a time in which research and development departments will be commonplace at law firms in order to adapt to an increasingly complex world."

Akerman's R&D Council will be given significant autonomy inside the firm to ensure unfiltered development of offerings aligned with client needs. The group will apply product development methodologies to explore new ways of practicing law and enhancing the client experience. This includes researching and identifying micro trends and new business markets, testing new product and process innovation, and leveraging sophisticated technology and business intelligence to address evolving client needs.

Forming a R&D Council is part of Akerman's culture of collaborative innovation and an extension of the firm's work with business incubators and accelerators. Akerman holds regular learning labs and innovation tournaments firm-wide to help bring new ideas to the market. Last year, Akerman joined The LAB Miami, becoming the first law firm to establish an outpost in Miami's Wynwood Art District, a rising center of innovation for U.S. and international entrepreneurs. The space allows Akerman lawyers to decentralize from the confines of a traditional high-rise office and to integrate with Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem where collisions of discovery occur. Akerman was also selected as an official 2014 law firm sponsor of TechStars NYC, the premier startup accelerator in the world. Akerman lawyers interact side-by-side with accelerator companies, venture capital firms, and angel investors through all phases of their lifecycles, developing customized business solutions.

"We envision a future where the legal industry leads some of the most exciting changes happening in the market," said Smulian. "At Akerman, we have built an environment that encourages new ideas so that our people remain at the frontline of innovation both for our clients and for tomorrow's lawyers."

The decision to launch an R&D Council is the result of Akerman's involvement with Law2023, a  yearlong investigation of the future of legal practice conducted by Smulian and Jason Bovis, Akerman's Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, as well as 13 other leaders in law. The group studied innovation in the legal industry and examined wider changes arising from technology, economics, and culture to begin thinking about what the world will look like in the next decade. They identified seven ways in which the firm of 2023 will behave differently from the firm today and issued them as a set of rules that can guide law firms seeking to thrive from disruptive change.

"It was a privilege to collaborate with some of the most creative minds in the legal industry to deconstruct the future and forge a new path, forward," said Smulian. "These rules represent the chance to build a legal industry that is radically more responsive and adaptive to the demands of clients and their businesses."

More information on Law2023 and the seven imperative rules for the future of legal practice can be found at www.law2023.org

About Akerman LLP
Akerman LLP is a leading transactions and trial law firm known for its core strengths in middle market M&A, within the financial services and real estate industries, and for a diverse Latin America practice. With more than 600 lawyers and government affairs professionals and a network of 20 offices, it is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the United States by The National Law Journal NLJ 350 (2013). Akerman also is ranked among the top 50 law firms for diversity in The American Lawyer's Diversity Scorecard (2013). More information can be found at akerman.com or twitter.com/akerman_law.


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