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The Financial Times is pleased to announce the launch of the submission process for the 2016 FT Innovative Lawyers report in Europe.

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

This year, we are changing the submissions process to remove the constraint of strict categories from the outset thereby allowing submitters more freedom to choose initiatives from any practice area or part of the business.

There will be two wide-ranging sections covering: 1) Legal Expertise and 2) the Business of Law.

The Legal Expertise section will broadly cover the work that lawyers do for their clients. The Business of Law category will cover initiatives that have helped to differentiate the firm or given it real competitive advantage.

Law firms and other legal service providers are invited to submit up to five entries for each section.

There will be a separate section for in-house legal departments, which will cover the top company, government and non-profit legal functions, a selection of individual in-house innovators and legal functions that have achieved significant operational transformation. (Detailed guidelines for this section are published here.)

As with all the reports in the FT Innovative Lawyers series, which now covers North America and Asia-Pacific, 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 research partner RSG Consulting. The articles in the special report will be written by FT journalists.


Why innovation?

Since it was established, the FT report has sought to break with the usual criteria of measuring lawyers by revenues, profits, deal sizes and reputation. Instead, it aims to uncover the real value that lawyers deliver to business and reward those who are consistently furthering the interests of their clients, their own businesses 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. The second is the business of running a law firm and how those legal solutions are delivered to clients.

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.


The FT Innovative Lawyers programme was established in Europe in 2006, launched in the US in 2010 and extended to cover North America and Asia-Pacific in 2014. Over the past decade, it has covered legal innovation in more than 50 different countries from more than 400 law firms and 250 company in-house legal departments.


The submission deadline is Friday April 29 2016 (now extended). The research process will run from April to August. The report will be published with the Financial Times on Thursday October 6 2016 and launched at the awards event in London on the evening of Wednesday October 5 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.


Legal expertise

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

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

This section will be primarily focused on lawyers’ client work. The rankings will profile 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 their clients’ business challenges.

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 and data protection.

Business of law

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

Submission limit: a maximum of five submissions may be made to the business of law section by any one firm or legal 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 as 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.

Submissions should focus on a specific initiative or project. 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 practices or business lines, strategies for growth or to differentiate the firm’s offering from competitors, internal operational changes, new uses of technology, initiatives to develop lawyers and staff, and social responsibility projects or cases.

Innovative individuals

The report will feature the top 10 individuals who emerge from the research as genuine innovators on either a technical or an operational basis. 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 category, but law firms are also invited to make additional submissions or nominations. There is no limit to the number of nominations that can be made for this category.

Young innovator of the year

Nominations and submissions are also invited for the young innovator of the year category, covering innovative individuals under the age of 40. There is no limit to the number of nominations that can be made for this category.

In-house legal team of the year

Law firms and legal service providers are invited to nominate clients or other in-house lawyers who are driving innovation in their businesses or the profession. In the Europe 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.

This year, the section will cover in-house legal teams working in companies, government and non-profit organisations. The section will also cover individual general counsel who are making the most impact as leaders in their businesses. There is no limit to the number of nominations that can be made for this category.


All submissions must be made both via the following online submission forms and via email to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com.

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”.

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

Attachments and any additional material (to a maximum 20Mb) should be clearly labelled using the format above, or posted to RSG Consulting, Level 4, 39-41 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PQ, UK.

Online submissions and nominations forms

Legal expertise submissions

Business of law submissions

Innovative individual and young innovator of the year

In-house legal team nominations

Submission format

All submissions to the legal expertise and business of law sections must provide the details set out in the online submission forms and outlined below. Please note that the below 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 firm’s role. (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 for innovative individuals, young innovator of the year or 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 2016 ranking will assess innovations from 1 January 2015.

Innovations must have taken place in Europe or have been led from a European office. All law firms active in Europe, regardless of country of origin, are eligible to send submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers 2016.

Number of submissions: there is a limit of FIVE submissions for the legal expertise section in total and FIVE submissions for the business of law section in total. If more than the maximum number of submissions are made, only the first in alphabetical order by title will be considered. There is no limit on nominations to the other categories.

Word count: submissions must be no longer than 750 words in total, following the word limits set out in the online submission forms. There is no word limit for nominations.

Language: all submissions and nominations must be written in English.


Submissions will be fully researched and will be assessed on their own merits, through detailed feedback sought from 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. 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.

Client referee feedback is critical to the assessment process. Contact details for internal and client or external referees must be included on every submission.

Submissions 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, which 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.


An awards event on October 5 2016 will be held in London to coincide with publication of the rankings. For more details of the event contact Abigail Lewis.

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

■ Innovation in Legal Expertise*

■ Innovation in the Business of Law*

■ Legal Innovator of the Year

■ Most Innovative In-House Legal Team

■ Most Innovative General Counsel

■ Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe

■ Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe (outside the UK)

* The exact award categories for these sections will be determined by the subject quality of submissions received.


■ April 29 2016: deadline for submissions (now extended)

■ August 2016: awards shortlists revealed

■ October 5 2016: awards and report launch event, London

■ October 6 2016: report publication


For research or submissions questions please contact RSG Consulting at ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com or 44 (0) 20 7831 0300.

For editorial enquiries please contact Josh Spero, ‎commissioning editor, Special Reports, Financial Times, at josh.spero@ft.com.

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Stephanie Collier, global associate director at the Financial Times at stephanie.collier@ft.com or +44 (0) 20 7873 4597.

For enquires about the awards event please contact Abigail Lewis, marketing executive at FT Live at abigail.lewis@ft.com or 020 7873 4765.


There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Europe 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 Europe 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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