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The tables below rank law firms and in-house legal teams for the FT Innovative Lawyers North America awards.

Accessing New Markets and Capital
RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTDechertDevised a tax structure for government-backed mortgage guarantor Fannie Mae to issue credit-linked Connecticut Avenue Securities notes through a real estate mortgage investment conduit. This allows foreign investors to participate in the US housing credit-risk transfer market. Fannie Mae has issued $6bn using the structure over eight separate transactions in 2019, and it has been copied by competitor Freddie Mac. The new structure broadens the base of investors into the market, reducing risk and creating more liquidity for home mortgages. Commended: William Cejudo 99927
STANDOUTCreel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez

After 2018 regulations allowed pension funds to make investments outside Mexico for the first time, the firm’s lawyers helped design the regulatory and contractual framework for international Certificado de Proyectos de Inversións (CERPIs), to offer to the firm’s private equity clients. The firm has advised 18 clients on CERPI listings and helped create this new market in Mexico. Commended: Carlos Aiza and Rodrigo Castelazo

89825
HIGHLY COMMENDEDWhite & CaseWith 14 months of negotiations, the firm convinced the Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos to allow reserve-based loan funding — an important liquidity source for oil and gas companies — in Mexico’s oil and gas market for the first time. This opened the market to other deals using RBLs in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. 78924
HIGHLY COMMENDEDWeil, Gotshal & MangesCreated a new structure for Syncreon, the global supply chain company, to restructure debt. The US's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings would not have been effective in some of the 20 countries in which the company operates. With this structure in place, the firm persuaded Syncreon's customers to implement a restructuring through an English scheme of arrangement, a popular structuring tool in Europe.88723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDOrrickThe firm created a new investment vehicle to help fund reforestation projects, raising $2m to support 1,500 acres of land in North Yuba, California, and creating 50 rural jobs. The financing structure is replicable and allows private and public investors to receive a steady return on their investments.88622
HIGHLY COMMENDEDDavies Ward Phillips & VinebergAdvised retailers, financial advisers and start-ups entering the Canadian cannabis industry. Also advised on some of the first cannabis marketing campaigns in Canada, as well as on an investment by Alimentation Couche-Tard, one of Canada’s largest convenience store operators. Commended: Elisa Kearney78621
HIGHLY COMMENDEDDechertGuided blockchain mortgage company Figure on the launch of a blockchain-based product to simplify the process of applying for a home equity line of credit, a type of home loan. The firm also advised Figure on its $1bn financing from investment bank Jefferies. Commended: Timothy Spangler77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDWeil, Gotshal & MangesAdvised the aerospace company Nordam, which had $268m in debt and was facing a contract dispute with Pratt & Whitney, through a Chapter 11 restructuring. The firm also negotiated a $140m investment from The Carlyle Group, the asset management firm. 77721
HIGHLY COMMENDEDWhite & CaseThe firm helped Corporación Quiport, the company behind Quito International Airport, with its international bond offering of $400m in 2019. It was the first international bond offering in Ecuador in a decade.68721
COMMENDEDShearman & SterlingAdvised commercial and development banks on the Enel Green Power portfolio financing of three solar photovoltaic plants in Mexico (Don Jose and Villanueva I and II). They are the largest solar projects in Mexico. 76720
COMMENDEDGoodwin ProcterThe firm helped workplace messaging company Slack Technologies to go public through a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange, amending employees' restricted stock units to navigate US tax laws. 66719
COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsHelped technology company Parsons, which was 100 per cent employee-owned, access capital through an initial public offering. It ensured the company was attractive to new investors while preserving its culture of employee ownership.76619
COMMENDEDPaul HastingsThe firm helped Earnin, a mobile software company that allows users to withdraw a portion of their wages before payday, raise $125m and navigate regulations to enable the company to offer an alternative to payday loans.67619
COMMENDEDShearman & SterlingIn October 2018, the firm secured regulatory approval for Vietcombank’s representative office in New York, making it the first Vietnamese bank to open an office in the US. 67619
COMMENDEDSullivan & CromwellSecured preliminary approval for Varo, a mobile-only banking business, to form a national chartered bank. Expected to launch in 2020, Varo hopes to be the first fintech company to become an online-only bank in the US.77519
Accessing New Markets and Capital (In-house)
RankIn-house legal teamDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
StandoutPayPalThe in-house team navigated the complexities of operating a fintech company in China in order to acquire a majority holding in Chinese payments group GoPay, making PayPal the first foreign company licensed to provide online payment services in China. 89724
Highly CommendedSlack TechnologiesTo support the workplace messaging company in its direct listing, the legal team resolved complex tax issues and created a bot to chase employees to sign necessary paperwork via the company's own Slack channels. Slack is the second significant company to go public through a direct listing, following Spotify last year.78722
CommendedFannie MaeThe mortgage loan company's legal team refined and implemented a new type of credit-risk transfer note devised by law firm Dechert. The legal team managed tens of thousands of documents and worked with dealers, investors, industry trade associations and federal regulatory agencies to gain their support for the new scheme.67720

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The US justice system is being politicised on all sides, at all levels. Plus: top 10 legal innovators; three ways to improve gender diversity in firms; protecting immigrants’ rights; preserving attorney-client privilege; deals lawyers’ skills

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