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This year marks the 10th edition of the FT Innovative Lawyers reports in Europe and the sixth for North America, where the scope of the report has since last year included Canada and Mexico. To commemorate a decade of investigation into innovation in the legal sector, the Financial Times and its research partner RSG Consulting are changing the content and therefore the submissions process for this year’s North America Report.

Law firms are invited to submit to three broad sections only — legal expertise, the business of law and social responsibility. We have deliberately left the categories broad, as we want to hear where you think your law firm has been most innovative.

In previous years, the legal expertise category has comprised corporate and commercial, finance and litigation as the three broad pillars of legal practice. This year, we are inviting firms to submit in any practice area or industry sector. We are looking for lawyers who have significantly contributed to the success of their clients’ businesses, through solving difficult issues, pre-empting problems or delivering to them competitive advantage.

The business of law category will cover law firms’ innovations in growing and developing their own businesses. This can be through expansion into new practice areas, industries or geographies, nurturing talent, changing delivery models, processes or pricing, or enhancing client service.

Firms can submit a maximum of six submissions overall: up to three to the legal expertise section, two to the business of law section and one to the social responsibility section.

The exact categories for the FT report and awards will be decided once all the submissions have been received and will reflect the major themes and trends that emerge from the research.

This year, we will also change the format of the ranking tables published in the report. We will feature the top ranked innovations in detail, followed by a listing of the highly commended ones. We will also include two rankings in the introductory section of the report on the most innovative North American law firms.

We will continue to run a separate in-house legal section covering the most innovative company legal departments and general counsel. However, for the first time, in-house lawyers are also invited to submit to the legal expertise section, to reflect the specialist lawyers that also practise in-house.

As with all the reports in the FT Innovative Lawyers series — which now cover North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region — the opinion of the “purchaser” or “user” of legal services will inform the rankings. These will continue to be generated by the unique research methodologies devised by RSG Consulting. The editorial content will continue to be informed by the insights of FT journalists.



The introduction to the report will feature the following two overall firm rankings:

1. The best performing law firms in the North American Report 2015

2. The market’s choice for the most innovative law firms in North America


This year, the report category tables will highlight the top 10 ranked innovations in greater detail, outlining the solutions created by the lawyers and the commercial outcomes. The following highly commended entries in each section will be published as a list. The methodology used to assess the submissions will remain the same as previous years. They will be assessed on originality, rationale and impact with each submission able to score a maximum of 30 points in total.

1. LEGAL EXPERTISE SECTION: innovation for clients

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

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

This section will represent those lawyers who have made a critical contribution to transforming their clients’ businesses. It will recognise lawyers who have developed new structures, new legal strategies or new law to meet clients’ business challenges.

Submissions on innovative legal solutions for clients are invited 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, bank and finance, restructuring, structured finance, funds, project finance, regulatory, investigations, white-collar crime, tax, litigation, arbitration, IP, competition, employment, real estate, technology, cyber security, data protection.


Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, alternative legal service providers.

Submission limit: A maximum of two submissions may be made to the business of law section by any one firm or service provider.

Law firms have traditionally been focused on delivering pure legal services. Client and market pressures now demand that law firms diversify and become more rounded professional advisers. Those pressures have also required law firms to think differently about how they deliver services to clients, how they manage themselves as businesses and how they engage and develop talent at every level of the firm.

We are interested in hearing about the internal or client-facing business of law innovations that are most original and have been most transformational for your firm, clients or market segment. These may include, but are not limited to, new practice or business lines, strategies for growth or to differentiate the firm’s offering from competitors, internal operational changes, new uses of technology, and initiatives to develop lawyers and staff at all levels of the firm in both legal and non-legal skills.


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

Submission limit: A maximum of one submission may be made to the social responsibility section by any one firm or in-house team.

Law firms are increasingly active in corporate social responsibility, becoming agents of social, economic and legislative change. This category covers law firm initiatives with clients, staff, the legal profession, business and the wider community. We are interested in pro bono cases that show lawyers applying their expertise and experience in new ways, and in programmes that are creative, effective and sustainable.


The report will feature the top 10 individuals who have stood out in the research. We will look for individuals who have come up with original ideas, developed brilliant solutions, and taken the boldest steps to change how legal work is done or to drive industry-wide innovation. The lead individuals for every submission made to the report are automatically considered for this section, but law firms are also invited to make their own submissions or nominations.


The awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday December 1st, 2015 ahead of the publication of the report in the FT newspaper on December 2nd. Those interested in taking tables at the event should contact Reda Sebbata, FT Live, at reda.sebbata@ft.com.

Shortlists for the awards will be drawn from the research conducted for the rankings. They will comprise top-ranked innovations in each category.

Shortlisted law firms will be contacted in October. A full list of shortlisted law firms will be published on the FT Awards website.

The FT reserves the right to withhold or change the categories of available awards according to research results.

Awards categories

Innovation in legal expertise (categories to be advised)

Innovation in the business of law (categories to be advised)

Innovation in social responsibility

Innovative individual

Innovative In-house legal team

Innovative general counsel

Outstanding innovation of 2015

Most innovative North American law firm

Special achievement award


August 21st, 2015 — deadline for submissions

December 1st, 2015 — FT Innovative Lawyers awards ceremony in New York

December 2nd, 2015 — publication of the FT North America Innovative Lawyers report


All submissions must be made through the online entry forms as follows:

Legal Expertise submissions: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form22/index.html

Business of Law submissions: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form23/index.html

Social Responsibility submissions: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form24/index.html

Submissions or nominations of innovative individuals can be made at: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form20/index.html

Submissions or nominations of innovative general counsel or in-house legal teams can be made at: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form19/index.html

You will also be able to access the forms at http://www.ft.com/reports/north-america-innovative-lawyers.

Electronic copies of all submissions must also be emailed toftresearch@rsgconsulting.com. Please send each submission as a separate file with the name of the submitting organisation and section included in the file name.

Any additional material should also be clearly labelled and emailed to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com (10Mb maximum file size) or posted to RSG Consulting, Lvl4, 39-41 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PQ, United Kingdom.

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.

1. Description of the innovation:a brief description of the matter or initiative, including key dates and the firm’s role.(50 word limit)

2. The challenge? What problem or issue was the innovation designed to address? (50 word limit)

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

4. Rationale: How did you arrive at the specific approach and/or solution that was finally adopted?(200 word limit)

5. 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)

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

Nominations are invited for the following report and award categories, via email to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com or the online nomination forms:

Innovative individual: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form20/index.html

Innovative general counsel or in-house legal team: https://fs30.formsite.com/Rsgconsulting/form19/index.html

Rules for submitting

Time period: the 2015 ranking will assess innovations which have been implemented or closed since January 1, 2014.

Geography: Innovations must have taken place in North America or have been led from a North American office. For the purposes of this report, North America covers Canada, Mexico and the US. All law firms active in the region, regardless of country of origin, are eligible to send submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers 2015.

Number of submissions: There is a limit of three submissions for the Legal Expertise section, two submissions for the Business of Law section, and one submission to the Social Responsibility section. There is no limit on nominations to the individuals or in-house legal sections. If more than the maximum number of submissions is made, only the first in alphabetical order by title will be considered.

Word count: Submissions should be no longer than 700 words in total, written in English and answer each of the questions on the entry form. The word count excludes references and contact details.


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 circles of independent experts in the assessment process. Entries will be weighed against other submissions in each category.

Innovations will be scored for their originality, rationale and impact according to RSG Consulting’s scoring methodology.

Client referee interviews are an important 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. Those that are more general and that cover several different pieces of work in one submission will do less well in the scoring process.


There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers 2015.

The researchers reserve the right to move entries from one category to another as they feel most 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.

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 2015 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.


For research questions please contact RSG Consulting on +44 20 7831 0300, ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com

For editorial enquiries please contact Helen Barrett on +44 (0)20 7873 4612, helen.barrett@ft.com

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Stephanie Collier, Global Associate Director, Professional Services &Technology at the FT, on +44 20 7873 4597, stephanie.collier@ft.com

For enquiries about the awards event please contact Reda Sebbata at FT Live, Global Conferences & events, reda.sebbata@ft.com

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