Legal innovations abound with Europe in flux

New industries and alliances are eroding the traditional lines of competition and separation of sectors

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This edition of FT Innovative Lawyers, our 11th, appears at a time of upheaval across the continent. Two big conundrums for the citizens, businesses and institutions of Europe will test the foresight and ingenuity of legal professionals for years to come: the aftermath of the UK vote on June 23 to leave the EU, and the intensifying refugee and migrant crisis. In this report, we show how lawyers are already innovating to address both.

The business world as seen through the lens of lawyers is changing too — new industries and alliances are eroding the traditional lines of competition and separation of sectors faster than ever, forcing lawyers to get ahead. Lawyers are responding by creating new types of firms, blurring old boundaries in search of new solutions. The individual lawyer, the nature of legal advice and the way in which that advice is delivered are undergoing deep change.

In addition, there are new centres of power and change in the legal industry: millennials refusing the partnership track; technologists introducing artificial intelligence; and general counsel acting as entrepreneurs, rather than just as lawyers.

Against this backdrop, the Financial Times and RSG Consulting, which compile this annual ranking, have also innovated in the way we organise the research and editorial. We have moved away from the categories used in previous reports, which followed strict legal practice lines, to emphasise what users of legal services want and need now. We hope that our tables will help you find answers to your questions more quickly.

The result is a suite of rankings designed to highlight lawyers’ innovations in overcoming challenges that initially look intractable — until some clever and creative professionals ask: how can we do things differently?

Lionel Barber is the editor of the Financial Times

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