An ice sculpture is seen spelling out the word "truth" by artist duo Ligorano Reese, with the US Capitol in the background, in Washington, DC on September 22, 2018. - A poetic protest at the caustic state of politics in the era of "fake news" under President Donald Trump, "Truth Be Told" is the sixth sculpture in the Melted Away series launched in 2006 by Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano, who are both 62 years old and have collaborated on art projects for nearly four decades. (Photo by Olivia HAMPTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read OLIVIA HAMPTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Cold hard truth: a melting art installation made of ice near the White House highlights the ambiguities of the fake news era © AFP

Welcome to the Financial Times North America Innovative Lawyers report of 2018.

Halfway into the first term of President Donald Trump’s administration, it is clear more than ever that facts matter.

Facts are the currency of lawyers and because — or in spite — of that, scrutiny of the US justice system has become intense.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia is already highlighting, evidence and detail will count; this is legal work at its most demanding.

At the same time, the confirmation hearing in September for Brett Kavanaugh was damaging to the Supreme Court’s standing in the eyes of the public, and the court appears to be heading for a new era of entrenched conservatism. On ‘The battle for the Supreme Court’, we ask how partisan will the justices be, and whether trust in the system can be restored.

Against that background, the report appraises lawyers’ continuing work on the rule of law, from protecting hard-won individual rights to a case that many believe has the potential to limit gerrymandering of the popular vote.

The skills of the 10 top legal innovators include entrepreneurship and coding as well as general legal expertise. Ultimately, we selected one individual for a string of innovations in an industry that traditionally resists change. The key to success in this, it turns out, may be “getting folks to let go of the binary view of the legal world — lawyers vs non-lawyers, partners vs non-partners”.

Those comments touch on a disparity in the US legal market that is wider than elsewhere. There is a divide between the top innovators in legal expertise and in how they run their businesses. We have therefore split our rankings for the firms into two separate lists.

This year, we also look north to the legal sector in Canada.

One firm in Quebec is highlighted for mapping a way for Uber’s taxi drivers to pay the right taxes; all Canadian firms are grappling with clients’ calls for them to do more for less.

The FT and RSG Consulting — which compile this annual ranking of innovative law firms, in-house legal teams and individual lawyers — received more than 500 submissions and nominations from 94 law firms and legal service providers and for 105 in-house legal teams. RSG conducted interviews with more than 500 senior lawyers, executives and experts. A total of 73 law firms and 40 company legal teams were ranked across the report.

Innovative Lawyers North America Ranking 2018

View the full rankings here

  • Top Innovative Law Firms: six of the best overall
  • Most Innovative Law Firms: Business of Law
  • Most Innovative Law Firms: Legal Expertise
  • In-house
  • Rule of Law | • In-house
  • Collaboration 
  • Data, Knowledge and Intelligence | • In-house
  • Managing and Developing Talent | • In-house
  • New Business and Service Delivery Models | • In-house
  • New Products and Services | • In-house
  • Strategy and Changing Behaviours | • In-house
  • Technology | • In-house
  • Accessing New Markets and Capital | • In-house
  • Enabling Business Growth and Transformation | • In-house
  • Managing Complexity and Scale | • In-house
  • Litigation & Disputes | • In-house
  • Creating a New Standard | • In-house
  • Canada: Legal Expertise
  • Canada: Business of Law

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