FT North America Innovative Lawyers 2017 open for submissions

We are looking for examples of innovation in law and the business of law for 2017 report and awards

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The Financial Times is pleased to announce the launch of the submission process for the 2017 Innovative Lawyers report and awards for North America. This year, the North America report will investigate two of the critical challenges facing the legal profession: how to uphold the rule of law and improve access to justice; and how to achieve more effective collaborations between law firms, their clients and other parties.

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

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 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.

Background

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 11 years it has covered legal industry innovation in 50 different countries from over 400 law firms and over 450 company in-house legal departments.

Timescale

The submission deadline is Friday September 1, 2017. The research process will run from September to November. The report will be published with the Financial Times newspaper on Tuesday December 12, 2017 and launched at the awards event at the New York Public Library on the evening of Monday December 11, 2017. 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 partners, Docusign, HighQ, and Riverview Law.

Categories 2017

■ Legal expertise

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, in-house legal teams, and other legal service providers.

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

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 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 likely 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

• Legal advice to enable business growth

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

■ Business of law

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, in-house legal teams, and other legal service providers.

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

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. And 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 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 delivery models

•Developing talent to adapt to changing workplaces and society

■ Collaboration

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, in-house legal teams, and other legal service providers.

Submission limit: A maximum of one submission may be made to the collaboration section by any one firm, in-house legal team, or legal service provider.

New collaborations within law firms, between competitors and with other advisers and clients are frequently the source of new legal and business innovations. In this section, we invite law firms and in-house legal teams to submit an example of a new type of collaboration which has helped to create a new solution or result.

Joint submissions between firms, legal services providers and clients are encouraged.

■ Rule of law and access to justice

Submissions invited from: private practice law firms, in-house legal teams, other legal service providers, 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, legal service provider, 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, in-house legal teams, other legal service providers, 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 online submission forms and uploaded as documents.

Online submissions and nominations forms will be made live and a link published on FT.com in late July.

Each submission should be uploaded as a separate document, named using the following format: “SECTION — law firm or organisation name – short submission title”.

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

2. 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)

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

4. 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)

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 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 2017 ranking will assess innovations from 1 January 2016.

• Innovations must have taken place in North America or have been led from a North American office. All law firms active in North America, regardless of country of origin, are eligible to send submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers 2017. For the purposes of this report, North America covers Canada, the US, and Mexico.

• There is a limit per firm of five submissions to legal expertise, five to business of law, one to collaboration, 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.

Awards

An awards event on December 11, 2017 will be held at the New York Public Library in New York to coincide with publication of the rankings. For more details of the event contact Chelsea Quine at Chelsea.Quine@ft.com.

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

• Innovation in Collaboration

• Legal Innovator of the Year

• Most Innovative In-House Legal Team

• Most Innovative General Counsel

• Most Innovative Law Firm in North America

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

Schedule

• 1 September 1, 2017 – deadline for submissions

• November 2017 – awards shortlists revealed

• December 11, 2017 – awards and report launch event, New York

• December 12, 2017 – report publication

Contact details

• For research questions please contact RSG Consulting on +44 (0)20 7831 0300, ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com

• For editorial inquiries please contact Harriet Arnold, commissioning editor, Special Reports, Financial Times, at harriet.arnold@ft.com (please preface email with ILNA)

• For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Robert Grange, Global Business Development Director at the FT at robert.grange@ft.com or +44 (0)20 7873 4418

• For enquires about the launch event please contact Caolan Howe on +44 (0) 20 7873 3411, caolan.howe@ft.com

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