Special Report:

North America Innovative Lawyers 2014: In-house legal teams

The Financial Times is inviting submissions and nominations of innovative in-house legal teams for this year’s FT North America Innovative Lawyers report.

For the first time, we are opening the report to legal teams based in the whole of North America.

This means that teams from across the region (including Canada and Mexico) will be weighed against their US counterparts. For the purpose of this report, we will treat the North American region as including the US, Canada and Mexico only.

Last year, the US report featured 16 in-house legal teams for innovations that ranged from technology applications to promote greater awareness of data privacy laws within the business, to a comprehensive reorganisation of the legal function.

In-house lawyers in North America continue to play important leadership roles within their businesses, within the profession and in society more broadly. Clients continue to be the main drivers of innovation, and the report aims to recognise those individuals and teams who are at the forefront of that change.

The FT Innovative Lawyers reports are among the most respected rankings of lawyers in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific region. They are distributed with the Financial Times newspaper and are also available online at www.ft.com.

The FT Innovative Lawyers microsite is one of the most visited specialist sections on ft.com, and the FT’s audited readership is more than 750,000 senior executives per day.

The North America report will be launched at a reception in New York on December 3 and distributed with the FT on December 4. All lawyers who feature in the report are invited to the reception.

This year, we want to feature general counsel and in-house teams that have demonstrated innovation in one or more of the following areas:

■ As lawyers: Have there been any standout transactions or areas of substantive legal advice where the legal department’s contribution has been critical to the business’s growth or survival?

■ As operational managers: This includes managing the internal legal function, use of technology, knowledge management systems, and talent and engagement programmes. It also includes contract management programmes.

■ As purchasers: This includes managing external legal service providers, costs, service-level agreements, panel arrangements and procurement processes in general.

■ As strategic advisers: This includes where the function has partnered with the business to give commercial, strategic advice that has significantly enhanced the organisation.

■ As risk managers: How has the legal department pre-empted problems or safeguarded the business from threats? This includes processes, compliance, governance or proactive collaborations with other functions.

■ As thought-leaders: This includes where in-house lawyers have taken on a lobbying role and changed or influenced legislation, regulation or industry approaches. It also includes promoting greater diversity in the legal sector and other ethical or socially responsible initiatives.

Innovations can cover a particular initiative, the whole legal department or the industry as a whole, and should be supported by internal commercial referees. Submissions and nominations must contain content from the period January 2012 to July 2014.


* * *

The in-house legal teams ranked in last year’s report


Google and Monsanto


Prologis, Chrysler Group, Verizon Enterprise Solutions


GlaxoSmithKline, Honeywell, Mondelēz International, Nike


LinkedIn, Microsoft, BT (US & Canada), Atmel Corporation, Pfizer (Litigation),

Yahoo! (intellectual property transactions), Prudential


Functional innovation

■ Creating cross-functional and multidisciplinary teams

■ Creating strategic legal and intellectual property departments

■ Turning legal functions into global departments

■ Delivering services directly to external clients

■ Global centres of excellence

■ Creative approaches to ensuring compliance

Process innovation

■ Driving efficiency and value

■ Process improvement using Six Sigma and Lean

■ Unbundling techniques

■ New document management technologies

■ Internal “legal process outsourcing”

■ Digital contract management

People innovation

■ Internal talent development programmes

■ Developing specialist expertise in-house

■ Promoting diversity in-house and in the profession

■ Training contracts for graduates

■ Talent engagement

Buying innovation

■ Making alternative-fee arrangements standard

■ An electronic reverse – auction system

■ Legal alliances

■ Aligning risk and behaviours

Rule changers

■ Using the role to become an agent for change in the legal profession

■ Helping to shape new law and regulation

■ Promoting freedom of speech

* * *

Quotes from the 2013 Winners

“Our legal team wants our counselling to be as innovative as Google’s services. We’re committed to using information to empower people, and we face a fascinating array of legal issues along the way – from the growing field of information law to the future of genetics and artificial intelligence. We very much appreciate the FT’s recognition of our work.”

Kent Walker, general counsel, Google

“Being recognised in the FT US Innovative Lawyers Report 2013 as the Most Innovative In-house Legal Team (jointly with Google) and having our CEO credit the Monsanto legal team with adding strategic value through innovation was great for morale and will help us in recruiting top talent.”

David F. Snively, executive vice-president, secretary and general counsel, Monsanto

* * *


We are aware that in-house teams are extremely busy and often lack the time to prepare submissions.

Therefore, we will accept any of the following:

1. A short nomination for your department or team with a brief description of why you feel you should be considered. We will then contact you to conduct an in-depth interview to assess whether you should feature in the report.

2. A full written submission, detailing your innovations and why you feel they have added value to the business.

3. In addition, we would welcome nominations of your peers.


■ Submissions may be made by in-house teams for themselves.

■ Digital copies of the submissions should be emailed to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com, clearly labelled with the name of the submitting organisation.

■ Submissions should include contact details for the lead in-house lawyer and internal commercial reference.


For your own team

If you do not have time to prepare a formal submission, you can still enter your team simply by using the nomination process.

To nominate your own team, simply send us an email with your contact details and a brief description of why you are nominating yourself. We will then contact you to conduct an interview.

For peer teams

If you would like to nominate a team in another company that has impressed you with its innovation, simply send us an email with the name of the company, the general counsel and a brief reason for your nomination.

All nominations should be made via email to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com, with the subject line “Nomination for FT Innovative Lawyers 2014 in-house section”.

If you would prefer to make your nominations by phone, contact the RSG research team at + 44 20 70 33 9 898.


■ There is no fee for submissions or nominations for the FT Innovative Lawyers reports.

■ The FT and RSG Consulting accept no responsibility for the loss of or damage to material submitted. Submissions will not be returned.

■ The FT reserves the right to publish the names of the company, firm or lawyers contained in the shortlist of outstanding entries, details and descriptions of all entries and details of winners. All entrants grant the FT a perpetual, non-exclusive license to publish details and descriptions of entries, and agree to participate in publicity reasonably requested by the FT regarding their entry.

The FT acknowledges that copyright in all entries remains vested with the entrants.

■ Please do not include any confidential information in your entry that you do not wish to enter the public domain, because the FT is unable to guarantee that such information will not be published as set out above. Any inclusion of confidential information in an entry is at the entrant’s sole risk and responsibility, and in knowledge of the FT’s request not to do so.

■ The FT reserves the right to cancel, postpone or suspend FT Innovative Lawyers 2014 at any time.

■ By submitting an entry, entrants will be deemed to have read, understood and agreed to these terms and conditions on behalf of their firm or organisation.

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