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Fuse, Allen & Overy's tech innovation hub, is opening applications for its seventh cohort of technology companies

Published Date
Jan 13, 2023
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    Shruti Ajitsaria
Tech companies whose work is directly applicable to A&O’s lawyers and/or clients are encouraged to apply, regardless of their stage of development or geographic location.

There are two application streams – a LegalTech stream open to any company and a separate stream chosen from nominations from A&O clients (which, in 2023, will focus on digital assets including NFTs, payment and security tokens, and derivatives).

Why Fuse?

Fuse brings together A&O lawyers, clients and a curated group of technology companies to explore, develop and implement digital change. Fuse is the first permanent – and still unrivalled – space of its kind in any international law firm; a specially designed innovation space in our London office. Since it opened in 2017, Fuse has hosted more than 50 companies and welcomed over 10,000 external visitors. The latest application process for LegalTechs yielded over 130 applicants for five available spaces.

Cohort members have access to the global network of A&O lawyers, clients and contacts, allowing them to grow their network and promote their products within this platform.

During 2022, cohort members met with all 40 of A&O’s international offices and were introduced to more than 40 separate external organisations via Fuse.

Fuse and LegalTech

Demand for use of technology in the provision of legal services is continuing to increase: in 2020, just 41% of clients reported asking law firms to describe the technology they use. In 2022, that figure was 70% and is projected to hit 97% by 2025. Fuse provides a unique opportunity for tech companies to be part of that extraordinary growth.

Fuse facilitates real-life piloting of the LegalTech products by A&O lawyers on live matters – in 2022, A&O lawyers piloted LegalTech products from five Fuse cohort companies, with one additional product to be piloted in Q1 2023. Piloting proves pivotal in the development and growth of the cohort companies, providing rare opportunities to assess the usability of the tech in an international law firm, its suitability towards the needs of A&O lawyers and strategic future development ideas. Cohort companies form relationships with A&O users, promoting collaboration and development of the technology in a hands-on experience to meet lawyers’ needs.

Shruti Ajitsaria, Partner and Head of Fuse, commented: "The companies which we have chosen to work with in Fuse have seen a number of significant milestones during 2022, including client collaborations, participation in other incubator and accelerator programmes, fundraising successes, new clients, development of market-wide solutions and more.”

When A&O first started recording LegalTech usage at the beginning of 2018, there were fewer than 300 users across 2 LegalTech applications. The number of A&O lawyers benefitting from LegalTech has grown 300% since then, with over 1200 lawyers using nine applications in October 2022. This growth in uptake is consistent month on month. Participation in Fuse helps embed a company’s technology at A&O - of the 10 LegalTech tools currently in wide use across A&O, 7 are provided by Fuse alumni.

Examples of previous cohort members and recent successes include:

  • LMA.Automate, the documentation automation and negotiation platform provided by the Loan Market Association in collaboration with Avvoka and Allen & Overy, expanded the suite of documentation it supports to cover secondary trade confirmations. This year Avvoka also was selected to participate in a UK TechNation delegation to Asia, and was ranked in Band 1 of the 2022 Chambers rankings of LawTech Document Automation vendors.
  • Definely was selected to participate in Lloyds Lab, the technology innovation hub for Lloyd’s insurance market, and was a member of the first UK Black Tech cohort of Launch with GS, which aims to increase access to capital and facilitate connections for diverse entrepreneurs and investors.

Fuse and Digital Assets

With the focus on digital assets for Cohort 7’s client nominated companies, Shruti commented: "Our lawyers work on market-leading transactions and projects covering all types of digital assets across multiple jurisdictions. We are looking for start-ups, scale-ups and mature companies playing a significant role in our clients’ digital assets strategies, and who are keen to collaborate with us. By bringing these companies into Fuse, we aim to be at the epicentre of learning to benefit our clients, our lawyers and the selected companies. Focusing on digital assets means keeping pace with the extraordinary growth of this area and, crucially, what it means for our clients.” Fuse will bring together companies which engage with a wide range of digital assets, including payment tokens, security tokens, governance / utility tokens, derivatives and NFTs. These companies will demonstrate expertise in a broad spectrum of solutions and services, including the issuance and custody of digital assets, operation of trading and payments platforms, development and deployment of smart contracts and DeFi infrastructure, and provision of compliance, AML / KYC and due diligence tools.

The digital assets hub will help A&O lawyers and their clients to deepen their understanding of these businesses by learning from the technology companies who are transforming this space.

How to apply

Applications will be accepted from 13 January 2023 to 5pm (UK time) 6 February 2023, with final selection days to take place in March 2023. The new cohort is set to join Fuse in early May.

Please email Shruti Ajitsaria with any questions, on Shruti.Ajitsaria@AllenOvery.com

Content Disclaimer
This content was originally published by Allen & Overy before the A&O Shearman merger

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Shruti Ajitsaria

Partner, Head of Fuse

London

Shruti is Head of Fuse, A&O Shearman’s tech innovation space which opened in 2017 to identify and collaborate with LegalTech ...