We speak with leading law firm Simmons & Simmons about how they innovated to provide clients with digital, on-demand ESG guidance.
Simmons & Simmons is a law firm based in London with 22 offices worldwide and over 1,500 employees. They have a reputation for innovation, as recognized in the European Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards in 2021.
Most recently, they have used their technological prowess to address their clients’ needs for clarity around ESG regulations. By creating their own digital tool, they are able to assess which ESG categories investments fall into and provide clients with guidance on-demand.
Clarifying the SFDR
In 2021, the European Union adopted the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), with the aim of standardizing language and labels for sustainable investment products for the sake of transparency, and to reduce “greenwashing”. These new requirements drove substantial changes to corporate investment processes and disclosures, and navigating these changes often fell to Simmons and Simmons as a trusted advisor.
Sabrina Schwiebert, Supervising Associate, explained: “It is just a lot. It is difficult for our clients to cut a path through the jungle of new ESG regulations and legislation. There are lots of pieces that tie together.”
Introducing ESG Conquest
Beginning by analyzing client needs, the team found opportunities to provide ESG services, like an offering to help asset managers categorize investment funds and fulfill pre-contractual, reporting, and website disclosure requirements.
Recognizing that helping clients decipher ESG requirements and frameworks manually would be too time-consuming and difficult to scale, Simmons and Simmons decided to use BRYTER to build a technology solution named ESG Conquest. The tool guides asset managers through a series of questions, then delivers a preliminary assessment of the category their investments fall into. With the knowledge of where these investments are categorized, the tool then provides guidance on how the client might qualify the product under a different ESG category. “In short, it’s a simple, actionable gap analysis,” explains Sabrina.
Empowering subject matter experts
While Simmons & Simmons is a leader in the adoption of legal technology, the manner of delivery for ESG Conquest was different, with lawyers and subject matter experts building the tool themselves. A better client experience is at the very heart of what Simmons & Simmons wants to achieve, and BRYTER no-code platform allows teams to create agile, powerful tools that can be updated as regulations change, without involving IT. Instead, lawyers can directly create and modify tools themselves with a visual, no-code interface.
The tools we built on BRYTER are client- and developer-friendly. In my opinion, this is the way we need to develop and deliver digital solutions in the 21st century.Alkan Dogan, Innovation Manager at Simmons & Simmons
Innovation Manager Alkan Dogan is responsible for driving the use of best-in-class tech tools at Simmons & Simmons. He tells us, “BRYTER stands out through its user-friendliness. This does not only apply to the back-end, but also for users in the front-end: our clients.”
Sabrina agreed, “As a lawyer, it was very easy for me to get started with BRYTER as a first experience in the field of legal engineering.”
The future of legal tech
BRYTER’s appeal isn’t just ease of use, but also what it makes possible. Alkan added: “Without BRYTER, we would not have been able to build an ESG solution for our clients. ESQ Conquest is a very complicated solution, and it led to a large decision tree, containing multiple logical complexities. To realize our vision of this tool, the features and capabilities of BRYTER offered the perfect match. The tools we built on BRYTER are client- and developer-friendly. In my opinion, this is the way we need to develop and deliver digital solutions in the 21st century.”
While ESG Conquest is a complex proposition, with a large decision tree dictating categorizations and advice, and deep logical complexity underlying each of those options, its delivery by the Simmons & Simmons legal team ensured that this complex nuance was reflected in the tool.
The firm will continue to use BRYTER to innovate and help clients conquer changing regulations. “If you used BRYTER to build something once, you will be able to do it again,” Alkan said. “Once you’ve learned it, you can replicate that experience over and over again. That is what makes it such a valuable tool for us. It’s easier to enable our colleagues to think of use cases that could be built on BRYTER, and also build it themselves, that is clearly the beauty of BRYTER.”