The Financial Times is pleased to announce the launch of the submission process for the 2019 Innovative Lawyers report and awards for the Asia-Pacific region.

FT Innovative Lawyers is a unique programme that assesses lawyers on their innovation for clients and in their own businesses. The programme consists of rankings and awards, based on independent research from RSG Consulting and robust journalism from the FT. The results are announced at an awards event, and the rankings are published in both print and online as an FT special report.

Law firms and in-house legal teams are invited to submit to four broad sections: legal expertise, the business of law/operations, access to justice and rule of law, and innovative individuals. This year we have again deliberately left the categories broad, allowing firms and companies more freedom to choose initiatives from any practice area or part of the business.

The 2019 Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers report will provide a comparison of how in-house and private practice lawyers are innovating. Each category will include two ranking tables and two awards. We will also continue to investigate efforts to uphold the rule of law and access to justice across the Asia-Pacific region.

Why innovation?
Since it was established, the FT report has sought to break with the usual criteria of measuring lawyers by revenues, profits or deal sizes. Instead, it aims to uncover the real value that lawyers deliver to business and reward the lawyers consistently furthering the interests of their clients, their own firms or companies and the profession itself.

How are the report and the awards assessed?

The rankings will be based primarily on submissions received but will also include fresh research, surveys and other qualitative research methods to uncover legal innovation in the region.

The FT Innovative Lawyers programme was established in Europe in 2006, launched in the US and North America in 2010, and in Asia-Pacific in 2014. Over the past 12 years it has covered legal industry innovation in 50 countries from more than 400 law firms and more than 465 company in-house legal departments.

The submission deadline is Wednesday January 16, 2019. The research process will run from January to April. The report will be published with the Financial Times newspaper on Friday May 3, 2019 and launched at the awards event at the Asia Society, Hong Kong on the evening of Thursday May 2, 2019. The awards event will recognise the standout innovators across all categories of the report.

There is no cost for submitting entries but the project will be subject to the terms and conditions outlined in detail below.

The research partner for the FT Innovative Lawyers programme is RSG Consulting, a specialist research and consulting company with decades of experience analysing the legal industry.

The FT Innovative Lawyers programme is supported globally by lead partner, Elevate, and partner QuisLex.

Categories 2019

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms and company in-house legal teams.

Submission limit: A maximum of five submissions may be made to the legal expertise section by any one firm or company in-house legal team.

This section will look at lawyers’ work for clients, including in-house lawyers’ work for their internal business clients, and will recognise lawyers who have developed new structures and products, new legal strategies or new law to meet their clients’ business challenges. We are looking for lawyers who have made a difference to their clients, by enabling them to innovate themselves or through unlocking exceptional value for them. Last year, we saw this done in various ways, such as managing complexity and scale and helping clients to access new markets and capital.

Submissions should focus on a specific matter or legal solution from any practice area. These may involve, but are not limited to, legal matters in the following practice areas: corporate and commercial, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, banking and finance, restructuring, structured finance, project finance, regulatory, investigations, white-collar crime, corporate tax, litigation, arbitration, competition, IP, private client, tax and trust, reputation, privacy, family, employment, real estate, technology, cyber security, data protection.

Key topics of interest will probably include but are not limited to:

  • Disputes, including innovations in third-party funding
  • Regulatory work, including work directly for clients and/or working with regulators
  • Managing complexity and scale
  • Legal advice to enable business growth and transformation
  • Legal advice to help clients access new markets and capital

The final categories in this section will derive from the submissions received.

■ Business of law

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms and company in-house legal teams.

Submission limit: A maximum of five submissions may be made to the business of law section by any one firm or company in-house legal team.

Client demands and market pressures are driving law firms and legal service providers to develop new products and services, and new means of delivering those services to provide even greater value.

Lawyers are increasingly using technology and data to create new legal solutions and enhance existing ones. New tools and ways of working allow law firms to be more efficient and more connected. Moreover, as the market and world of work changes, law firms are setting new strategies and finding new ways to change behaviours and make the most of the opportunities offered.

This section will assess innovations across any area of the business of law. Key topics of interest will probably include but are not limited to:

  • Data, knowledge and intelligence
  • Use of technology
  • Strategy and changing behaviours
  • New products and services
  • New or improved business and service delivery models
  • Developing talent to adapt to changing workplaces and society

■ Rule of law and access to justice

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, company in-house legal teams, individuals, and any other commercial, public or non-governmental organisation.

Submission limit: A maximum of one submission may be made to the law & access to justice section by any one firm, in-house legal team, individual, or organisation.

Lawyers are being called on more than ever before to uphold the rule of law and bring access to justice for those who are denied it or forgotten by the system. Lawyers are increasingly agents of social and legislative change. This category covers any initiatives that seek to uphold the rule of law and improve avenues for access to justice.

■ Innovative individuals

Nominations invited from: private practice law firms, company in-house legal teams, individuals, and any other commercial, public or non-governmental organisation.

Nomination limit: The lead individual for every submission made to the report will be automatically considered for this category, but law firms and legal service providers are also invited to make a maximum of three nominations.

The report will feature the top 10 individuals who stand out in this year’s research as exceptional innovators. We will look for individuals who have come up with the most original ideas, who have shown courage to change the way legal work or business is done, and have had the greatest influence on their firms, industry, business, or wider society. We will run a separate list of the most innovative general counsel.

How to submit entries

All submissions must be made via the online submissions forms here and uploaded as documents (you will be prompted to do this at the final stage of each online submission form). Submission documents should be named using the following format: “SECTION — law firm or organisation name — short submission title”.

PLEASE NOTE: You will first need to register an account before you can access the submissions website. To register an account, follow the link here or email to request login details.

Video content, images or submissions in other formats are also welcome.

Submission format

All submissions must provide the following details and address the criteria set out below. Please note that word limits are enforced in the online entry forms.

The challenge: What commercial problem or business issue was the innovation designed to address? (75-word limit)

Description of the innovation: A brief description of the matter or initiative, including key dates and the submitting lawyers, firm, individual or legal department’s role. (75-word limit)

Originality: Why is the work or initiative innovative? Which elements are most original? (200-word limit)

Leadership: What role did the lawyers, firm, individual or legal department play? For which aspects of the solution, approach, or implementation were you responsible? How did you arrive at the specific approach or solution that was finally adopted? (200-word limit)

Impact: What was the impact of the innovation for the client, firm or key stakeholders? How can its success be measured? Where did the lawyers deliver the most value? Please include hard evidence. (200-word limit)

References: All submissions must include contact details for at least one internal and at least one client or other external reference who can be contacted to discuss the details of the innovation on a confidential basis.

Nominations for innovative individuals and in-house legal teams need simply to include contact details for the nominee and a brief reason for the nomination.

Rules for submitting

  • Time period: the 2019 ranking will assess innovations from January 1 2018 onwards.
  • Innovations must have taken place in the Asia-Pacific region and been led from an office in that region. For the Asia-Pacific law firms categories, law firms in the following countries are eligible to submit in 2018: Australia, China and Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the Asean countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. Submissions can cover work anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • There is a limit per firm of five submissions to legal expertise, five to business of law, and one to access to justice & rule of law. If these limits are exceeded, only the first submissions within the limit in alphabetical order by title will be considered.
  • Submissions must be no longer than 750 words in total, written in English and answer each of the questions on the entry form.

Assessment of submissions

  • Submissions will be fully researched and will be assessed on their own merits, through extensive interviews with referees. The RSG Consulting research team also uses independent experts in the assessment process. Entries will be judged against other submissions in each category.
  • Innovations will be scored for their originality, leadership and impact out of a total of 30 points.
  • Client referee interviews are a critical part of the assessment process. Contact details for internal and client or external referees must be included on every submission.
  • Submissions, particularly those in the legal expertise categories, should each focus on a specific innovation. The research approach is to examine case studies. Those that are more general and that cover several different pieces of work in one submission will do less well in the scoring process.
  • All submissions are assessed by RSG Consulting, a specialist legal-market research company that uses a process of interviews with clients, submitting lawyers and experts. The submissions are then scored against a bespoke ranking methodology, devised for the FT to assess innovation in law firms.
  • The three key indicators used are originality, leadership and impact. Each indicator carries a total of 10 points. The submissions in each category are benchmarked against each other in the scoring process. The top ranked innovations therefore represent the best out of all the submissions received.
  • The rankings will be based primarily on submissions received but will also include fresh research, surveys and other qualitative research methods to uncover legal innovation in the region.
  • Assessment criteria will be based on local norms and benchmarks of innovation


An awards event on May 2, 2019 will be held at the Asia Society in Hong Kong to coincide with the publication of the rankings. For more details of the event contact Cherrie Chan at

At the awards event, the FT will recognise the top-scoring entries in each category of the report.

Innovation in Legal Expertise*
Innovation in the Business of Law*
Innovation in Rule of Law and Access to Justice
Legal Innovator of the Year
Most Innovative In-House Legal Team
Most Innovative General Counsel
Most Innovative Law Firm in Asia-Pacific

*Exact award categories and names will be decided after submissions are received.


Friday, January 16, 2019 — deadline for submissions
March 2019 — awards shortlists revealed
May 2, 2019 — awards and report launch event, Hong Kong
May 3, 2019 — report publication

Contact details

For research questions please contact RSG Consulting on +44 (0)20 7831 0300,

For editorial inquiries please contact Harriet Arnold at the FT at (please put FTILA in the subject field).

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Robert Grange, global franchise development director and head of special reports at the FT, or +44 (0)20 7873 4418; or Stephanie Collier, head of professional services at the FT, or +44 (0)20 7873 4597

For enquires about the launch event please contact Cherrie Chan, Regional Project Manager, Asia-Pacific, FT Live Conferences and Events,

Conditions of entry

There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers 2019.

The researchers reserve the right to move entries from one category to another if they feel it appropriate. The researchers’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

The FT and RSG Consulting accept no responsibility for the loss or damage of material submitted.

The FT reserves the right to publish the names of the firm or lawyers contained in the shortlist of outstanding entries, details and description of all entries and details of winners. All entrants grant the FT a perpetual, non-exclusive licence to publish details and descriptions of entries as referred to, and also 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.

If you are shortlisted for, or win, an award, then the FT may at its discretion allow you to use the relevant FT Innovative Lawyers logo on your marketing materials. You acknowledge that FT is the owner of the logo and all related goodwill and agree that your use of the logo must be in accordance with any applicable FT branding guidelines in force from time to time or any instructions from the FT, that you will not use it as part of a composite mark or logo, and you will not use it in a manner which causes or is likely to cause confusion or a misleading association between your business and the FT, or damage to FT’s goodwill or reputation, or to the validity of any FT trade mark. FT may terminate your right to use the logo at any time.

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 Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers 2019 at any time and to exclude any entries which it considers are inappropriate or do not comply with these terms and conditions. False or deceptive entries will render the entrant ineligible and such entries will be discarded.

The FT and RSG Consulting cannot accept responsibility for, or liability arising from, entrants taking part in the awards. To the fullest extent permissible by law, the FT and RSG Consulting exclude liability for all loss, damage or claim arising as a result of your entry to FT Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers 2019.

These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law. Disputes arising in connection with the awards shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

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.

By submitting an entry, the submitter warrants that it has obtained all necessary consents required under applicable data protection and privacy laws to allow the sharing of any personal data contained in their submission with the FT. Contact information will only be used for the purposes of assessing each submission and will be processed in accordance with our privacy policy.

Get alerts on Asia-Pacific when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article