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

FT Innovative Lawyers is a unique programme that assesses commercial lawyers on their innovation both for clients and in their own businesses. The programme consists of rankings and awards, based on independent research and robust editorial investigation, with a published and online report, and an awards event.

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.

The FT programme looks at innovation in private practice in two ways. The first is in the legal solutions lawyers create to deliver transformational value to their clients, and the second is the business of running a law firm and delivering those legal solutions to clients. The latter includes how law firms run themselves as businesses and their strategies with regard to growth, client service, talent, operations and technology.

Which countries are covered?

The third FT Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers report will continue to look at the work of lawyers in private practice and in-house. In the private practice categories, there will be two sets of rankings — one for firms headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region and one for international firms headquartered outside the region. The jurisdictions that will be covered in this edition are Australia, China and Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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. Assessment criteria will be based on local norms and benchmarks of innovation rather than what constitutes innovation in the European or North American legal markets.


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 decade it has covered legal industry innovation in 50 different countries from over 400 law firms and over 250 company in-house legal departments.


The submission deadline is Friday 26 February 2016. The research process will run from March to May. The report will be published with the Financial Times newspaper globally on Friday 3 June 2016 and launched at the awards event in Hong Kong on the evening of Thursday 2 June 2016. 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 project is supported in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific by Integreon, the global provider of integrated legal, research and business support solutions.

Categories for 2016

1. Legal expertise: corporate & commercial

This category covers any corporate or commercial innovations from law firms for their clients, including mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and commercial advice, antitrust and intellectual property transactional work, corporate reorganisations, cyber security advice, private equity, IPOs and other equity capital markets work. The category will look at the key role lawyers have played in helping their clients adapt and grow in their own or new markets. There will be two, separate rankings for international law firms and those headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region.

2. Legal expertise: finance

This category will take a broad look at legal innovations in the area of finance. We invite submissions from any area of finance, including project and infrastructure financing, structured finance and derivatives, leveraged and acquisition finance, real estate finance, financial regulatory advice, and debt capital markets work. It will include innovative legal work to create new financial systems and for the financers of major deals and new projects. There will be two separate rankings for international law firms and those headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region.

3. Business of law

This category will cover the innovative strategies of law firms in the region, examining their approaches to any of the following areas of the business of law:

• law firm strategy, organisational structure, growth and expansion, new ways of winning clients, and building practice or industry area strengths and market presence

• new client service initiatives or service lines

• talent management

• operational innovations to resource work more efficiently

• new uses of technology

• social responsibility initiatives and programmes

There will be two, separate rankings for international law firms and those headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region.

4. Innovative individual lawyers

The report will feature the top 10 lawyers who emerge across all categories of the research as the most creative and innovative individuals. These people will have to display a record of original thinking and successful ideas and be able to show how they have affected business in the region. The top 10 will include technical lawyers, law firm leaders and strategists. The lead lawyers listed on submissions to all categories of the report are automatically considered, but law firms are invited to make nominations to this category.

5. In-house legal teams

In-house lawyers have been the engine of innovation in businesses around the globe. In the Asia-Pacific report, we will look for those general counsel and in-house legal teams who are innovating in their operations, and in the delivery of legal, risk and strategic advice to help their businesses navigate an increasingly challenging market. The section will also profile individual general counsel who are making the most impact as leaders in their businesses.


Based on all submissions, we will produce the FT25, two tables of the top internationally-headquartered and Asia-based law firms.

How to submit entries

• All private practice submissions must be made BOTH via the online submission form AND emailed to Please label documents clearly with the name of the submitting organisation and category to which the submission is being made, using the following naming format: “CATEGORY — law firm name — short submission title”.

• Individual submissions or nominations should be made BOTH via the online submission form AND emailed to

• In-house legal team nominations should be made via the online submission form.

• Attachments and additional material (to a maximum 20Mb) should be clearly labelled with the name of the submitting organisation and the category to which the submission relates, or posted to RSG Consulting, Level 4, 39-41 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PQ, UK.

• Video content, images or submissions in other formats are also welcome. Please complete the submissions form for the entry and mark the appropriate box to indicate that additional material is being sent.

Submission format

All submissions must provide the following details and address the originality, rationale and impact criteria as set out below. Each submission must be no longer than 750 words in total. All submissions must provide the following details and address the criteria set out below. Please note that the below 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. (75 word limit)

2. The challenge: What problem or issue was the innovation designed to address? (75 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 also invited for the following report categories:

• Innovative individuals

• In-house legal team

Rules for submitting

Time period: the 2016 ranking will assess innovations from 1 January-31 December 2015.

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 2016: 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 three submissions per category. If more than three submissions are made, only the first three 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, rationale 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, rationale 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.


An awards event on 2 June 2016 will be held in Hong Kong to coincide with publication of the rankings. For more details of the event contact Reda Sebbata.

At the awards event, the FT will recognise the top-scoring entries in certain categories:

• Innovation in Corporate Law (Asia-Pacific headquartered law firms)

• Innovation in Corporate Law (Internationally headquartered law firms)

• Innovation in Finance Law (Asia-Pacific headquartered law firms)

• Innovation in Finance Law (Internationally headquartered law firms)

• Innovation in the Business of Law (Asia-Pacific headquartered law firms)

• Innovation in the Business of Law (Internationally headquartered law firms)

• Most innovative lawyer

• Most innovative in-house legal team

• Most Innovative Law Firm (Asia-Pacific headquartered law firms)

• Most Innovative Law Firm (Internationally headquartered law firms)

Additional awards will recognise regional and industry sector innovators.


• 26 February 2016 — deadline for submissions

• Early May 2016 — awards shortlists revealed.

• 2 June 2016 — awards and report launch event, Hong Kong.

• 3 June 2016 — report publication.

Contact details

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

For editorial enquiries please contact Josh Spero at the FT at

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Stephanie Collier, Global Associate Director at the FT, on +44 (0)20 7873 4597 or

For enquires about the launch event please contact Reda Sebbata, FT Conferences and Events, at

For FT corporate subscription enquiries please contact Kim Wickramasinha on +44 (0)20 7873 4740,

Conditions of entry

There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers 2016.

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.

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 2016 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.

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