DWT De Novo

Contact: Mark Fefer, Marketing Communications, 206.757.8583 or

AUG. 31, 2016 – In recognition of the firm’s continued success delivering "great business value and transformational impact" for clients, Davis Wright Tremaine has been named “Innovative Law Firm of the Year” for an unprecedented second year in a row by members of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA).

Jeff Sabado, a member of the Davis Wright team, was also recognized as ILTA’s 2016 "IT Professional of the Year."

Davis Wright’s innovation initiative has been led by "DWT De Novo," a cross-functional team of lawyers, technologists, web developers, legal process improvement experts, legal solutions architects, and data analysts, among others, who have partnered with multiple clients to develop solutions that add new value to their legal function.

Working with Davis Wright lawyers around the country, the De Novo team has designed systems for handling large portfolios of work that combine legal knowledge, process improvements, technology, alternative staffing, and data analysis to deliver more comprehensive business solutions. The team focuses on improved internal efficiencies, providing greater transparency into legal budgets and processes, and leveraging data to help clients mitigate risk.

“Working together, law firms and their clients can bring better legal solutions to business problems so clients can focus on those elements of their jobs that are more strategic, valuable and personally fulfilling,” said Lawton Penn, head of DWT De Novo. "We can supplement our legal advice with business insight that helps improve decision making. We can deliver service more efficiently, effectively and predictably. And we can make information more easily accessible so our clients have greater peace of mind."

  • Davis Wright was particularly recognized for redesigning the management of high volumes of work to create cost savings and business insights while relieving the administrative burden on in-house counsel. For example, the firm collaborated with a leading technology company to fully redesign handling of its procurement contracts globally. Combining a centralized intake system, playbooks, alternative staffing, and data analytics, the new system has significantly improved efficiency and budget predictability and freed the client’s in-house team to focus on the most strategic, high-level transactions.
  • The firm has also developed tools for making volumes of legal information more easily consumable by business users. For example, for an international banking client grappling with how best to allocate resources and focus business initiatives, the firm created a 28-country, color-coded, graphical “heat map,” illustrating the areas of greatest risk, and emerging risk, in a critical area of regulatory oversight. The map allows business stakeholders to make decisions quickly about new product offerings. “Much of De Novo’s focus has been on cultivating the data and tools necessary to help counsel communicate value in a language that business stakeholders understand,” said Penn.
  • Finally, the award submission featured a litigation budgeting and data visualization tool that helps lawyers working on portfolios of cases manage the litigation more effectively and have the information needed to manage resources.

"Transforming how we collaborate with clients and deliver service, combined with excellent lawyering and a focus on what we do best, is our path to long-term success," said Jeff Gray, managing partner of Davis Wright.

“DWT De Novo began as an experiment, grew into an R&D lab, and is now a core part of the firm’s long-term strategy,” notes Jay Hull, Chief Innovation Partner.

Sabado, who oversees IT project management and custom development for the firm, concentrates on leveraging technology to make the practice of law more efficient and transparent, while solving real-world problems for the firm and its clients. His recent work has included automating a system for reviewing 1.8 million website images for a trademark client.

"Jeff has been an exceptional asset in our efforts," said Hull. "He comes at every problem or request from a position of ‘yes, we can do that!’ and collaborates to find creative ways to make it happen."

"I have a unique opportunity in the world of legal IT," said Sabado, "to get in front of attorneys and their clients, listen empathetically to pain points and opportunities, and envision and architect creative solutions to solve them."

Davis Wright was also a finalist in two other ILTA award categories:

  • Project of the Year, recognizing the managed service model for handling Microsoft’s global procurement work, as mentioned above;
  • Litigation Support Professional of the Year, recognizing the work of Denise Farr, the firm’s director of practice support, who has applied technology to improve processes and outcomes in complex litigation, e-discovery, and large-scale document review.

The awards were announced last night at ILTACON, a four-day conference attended by thousands of executives from the country’s leading corporations, law firms, and legal vendors. ILTACON is known as a hub for the world’s most sophisticated thinking about the strategic application of technology to the practice of law.

"Continuous improvement has been embedded in this firm’s DNA," said Gray. "As clients permanently change the way they purchase and use legal services, we are pleased to join them in transforming the legal industry for the better.

About Davis Wright Tremaine
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an international law firm with over 550 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.dwt.com and denovo.dwt.com.

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