Ash Banerjee, the newly minted global chief information officer at Dentons, isn’t new to the firm. He’d been in the role in an interim basis in Washington, D.C., for over a year, more than enough time to understand the challenge in front of him.
After all, Dentons isn’t just the largest law firm in the world. It’s also a relatively young firm, having been created as the result of a three-way merger in 2012. And Banerjee, who’d previously served as global chief information officer and chief operations officer for the Americas at Hogan Lovells, recognizes that better use of technology can serve to help harness the potential of the global platform.
“How do you move from largest to leading?” he asked. “It’s about getting more efficient and creating more value for the technology function across the firm. That takes a lot of work.”
Before his time at Hogan Lovells, Banerjee served as CIO at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and he also served in senior technology roles at EMI Music, Equant and Global One. He was educated in the U.K. and holds a master of engineering from Cambridge University.
“Because we regard technology to be the most critical enabler for everything we do as a law firm, we need someone who is highly technologically proficient and we really need a strategic thinker on business technology and how business technology can be an enabler for the global firm,” said Dentons global CEO Elliott Portnoy, who noted that while the first skill set is far more common, Banerjee has both.
Banerjee said that while Dentons already has the largest footprint on the cloud of any law firm in the world, the firm is still focused on becoming “cloud first.” He’s also looking at technological solutions to enable the firm to be better connected with clients, improving cybersecurity, and making better use of existing data to provide more insights for clients and the firm.
Dentons’ scale adds additional challenges that weren’t in place even at a smaller global firm such as Hogan Lovells.
“In terms of our structure, it means that you have to communicate effectively with all of our leaders. The amount of effort is much higher than in smaller global firms,” Banerjee said, also noting the need to juggle time zones.
Banerjee’s elevation is the latest in a series of additions Dentons has made to its global leadership team, having recently hired Billy Curley as global chief financial officer, Aragon St-Charles as global head of environmental, social and governance, Neelima Paladugu as global chief people officer, and Kate Broer as global head of inclusion and diversity.
“The timing is particularly opportune that our key functions—technology, people and finance—have new leaders that are highly aligned and bring skills from not just other law firms but the business world, the Big Four and elsewhere,” Portnoy said.