In her acceptance speech for the FT Innovative Lawyers Special Achievement Award in 2014, Rosemary Martin, group general counsel at Vodafone, said she wanted to put innovation on the agenda for the next generation and encourage young lawyers to “raise their heads above the parapet”.
The law is a hierarchical profession and has tended not to give credit to young lawyers. Traditionally, knowledge and ideas in the profession travels from the top down.
In response to Ms Martin’s plea, this year for the first time we have selected a group of under-40s who stood out in the research for this report. The group is eclectic. Some showed entrepreneurialism, others focused on technical legal innovation. Some focused on clients, others on wider society.
The judges felt all five were strong candidates who, together, reflect how the profession is evolving. Ranajoy Basu was chosen as the winner for using his legal expertise to create a new socially oriented practice area for Reed Smith. Prabhu Narasimhan, the runner-up, showed that being inventive in tax law can pay dividends. His forward thinking will enable billions of dollars’ worth of investment in the UK.
Ranajoy Basu, Reed Smith
Ranajoy Basu combined dual qualifications in Indian and English law with his knowledge of structured finance in a technical legal innovation for positive social change — improving education for children in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
In the first cross-border development impact vehicle of its kind, he created the Educate Girls bond aimed at private US and European investors. The UBS Optimus Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation invest funds to support the work of Educate Girls, a non-governmental organisation. Mr Basu set up Reed Smith’s social impact finance group to target clients who want to use their activities for social good.
Prabhu Narasimhan, White & Case
Prabhu Narasimhan has proved attention to detail can bring about great legal innovation. He specialises in implementing tax-efficient, cross-border structures for international corporations.
He worked with the Treasury to devise a tax law structure that gives UK businesses more choice when looking for finance. The proposal has resulted in European investors committing more than $14bn in lending to UK companies over the next five years.
Peter Feehan, Pinsent Masons
Peter Feehan is recognised for helping Peterborough City Council with its ambitious plan to become the UK’s green capital.
His entrepreneurial approach gave him the drive to take advantage of every commercial opportunity, applying his private sector knowledge to create new products and identify potential partnerships.
He advises clients across the energy and utility sectors.
Andrew Moir, Herbert Smith Freehills
Before qualifying as a solicitor, Andrew Moir studied physics at Imperial College London and worked in electronics and software engineering. This experience has allowed him to bridge the gap between law and technology.
He is recognised here for his work in a dispute over ownership of the financial algorithm on which Ikos, the investment management business, is based.
He wrote software to compare algorithms used by both parties to win the case.
Jenifer Swallow, Mind Candy
As general counsel and chief of staff for Mind Candy, an entertainment company for the digital generation, Jenifer Swallow has developed the business in a highly regulated and rapidly evolving industry.
Mind Candy, best known for Moshi Monsters, has more than 80m registered online users.
Ms Swallow’s work empowered Mind Candy staff to understand and respond to day-to-day legal issues, freeing her up to focus on strategy.