Baker McKenzie taps new leads for data and machine learning team

The legal offices of Baker McKenzie in Washington, D.C., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Brian Kuhn, former IBM Watson legal consulting head, joins as co-founder
  • Firm announced 11-person team in May

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(Reuters) – Baker McKenzie has tapped two “co-founders” to lead its new data science and machine learning team, artificial intelligence legal pro Brian Kuhn and Danielle Benecke, an IP and tech senior associate at the firm.

Baker McKenzie unveiled plans for the new 11-person team in May when the firm extended its partnership with AI-powered platform SparkBeyond under the firm’s newly formed global innovation unit, Reinvent Law.

Baker McKenzie said in a Monday statement that Kuhn and Benecke will start “in the coming weeks.”

The team, under Chief Innovation Officer Ben Allgrove, will use New York-based SparkBeyond’s analytics and research platforms on projects, “exploring new ways to apply machine learning to transform the legal industry and address key societal problems,” the firm said. Projects will be both internal and external-facing.

Kuhn, located in Washington, D.C., joins Baker McKenzie from alternative legal service provider Elevate Services, where he was vice president and general manager of technology, data and digital solutions consulting. He previously co-founded and headed up IBM Watson’s legal consultancy.

Benecke is a Palo Alto, Calif.-based member of Baker McKenzie’s IP and tech practice group.

“The experience they will bring, from both inside and outside our firm, will help us to continue to explore what the future of the law – and in particular machine learning enabled judgment – will look like,” Allgrove, who is based in London, said in a statement.

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Sara Merken

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at

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Rubi Ramage