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National does things differently with self-styled innovation hawkers

National does things differently with self-styled innovation hawkers

Entrepreneurial solutions to meet client needs can be found on more fertile ground outside of law firms, according to the head of Sparke Helmore’s new innovation start-up Bright Sparke.

Sparke Helmore has taken a “divergent” approach to embracing innovation, spinning out an independent hawker-style outfit to meet with clients and connect them to allied service providers.

The value-add concept of Bright Sparke reimagines the traditional role of a law firm as a business adviser, by 'bottling' an entrepreneurial spirit and taking that solution-driven product to clients.

According to the CEO of the new entity, Nicholas Adamo (pictured), the decision to add value with an independent start-up recognises that not all ideas, least of all the most innovative, are seeded in-house.

“We intentionally set up Bright Sparke as a separate entity. It is not an operational capacity of Sparke Helmore Lawyers. That independence, we believe, is really important,” Mr Adamo said.

“Bright Sparke has not been set up to try and sell more legal work. We have fine lawyers who have great relationships and clients that call them up every day.”

Sparke Helmore head-hunted Mr Adamo, who is a management consultant and former partner at Deloitte, earlier this year. In addition to stewardship of the firm’s new innovation hub, he reports to the board as chief innovation officer at Sparke Helmore.

Mr Adamo believes that at the time Sparke Helmore approached him about the role, the firm was focused on understanding how “someone with a non-legal background might view the challenge of innovation”.

The start-up is now embarking on a “capability”-enhancing campaign, to facilitate solutions for the “more complex and difficult problems” that clients face, which may fall outside the purview of strict legal services.

“For me, innovation is a verb. It really focuses around a sense of entrepreneurialism, being prepared to bring in a diversity of capabilities; to listen and to try and solve issues that are presented.

“Instead of investing in solutions and then looking for a problem, we wanted to put our clients at the heart of everything we are doing,” Mr Adamo said.  

While leveraging Sparke Helmore’s full network, Mr Admao has been tasked with leading an immediate team based in Sydney to service the national innovation needs of clients.

His vision for the new entity is to offer another layer of support to the law firm’s core legal service offering. To help devise these solutions, Bright Sparke will collaborate with the firm to leverage its network of allied professional service providers.

“I would rather look to collaborate with other people out there in the market, rather than building a capability,” Mr Adamo said.

“We will be able to draw on the same fantastic legal capability at Sparke Helmore but we’re also going to look for ways to make our clients' lives easier by giving them more relevant service,” he said.

While the core Bright Sparke team is expected to grow as the start-up establishes itself, the focus for now is on formalising collaborative partnerships.

Mr Adamo, who has previously been responsible for setting up EY’s Asia-Pacific ‘enterprise intelligence’ team, emphasised that being lean and mobile is a strategic advantage.

“I know that other firms have taken a different view to innovation. We’re just not as focused on necessarily making financial investments in some of the other options out there, nor are we focused on [merely] creating a physical environment, which we hope will show our clients that we’re innovative,” Mr Adamo said.

“If we truly keep our clients at the heart of everything that we do, we are really focused on the right spot for our firm.”

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