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This year will mark the 10th edition of the FT Innovative Lawyers report. To commemorate a decade of investigation into innovation in the legal sector, the FT and its research partner RSG Consulting are broadening the analysis for the 2015 report.

The focus and format of the report’s introduction will change. Instead of an FT 50 listing, we will publish three law firm rankings: one that looks at the firms behind the top innovation in each of the 10 categories, one that looks at the 10 best-performing law firms in the FT report, and one that looks at the game-changers of the past 10 years.

There will be 10 categories in which law firms and other legal service providers will be able to submit. Five will cover the business of law and the other five will cover the legal expertise innovations developed by lawyers to solve their clients’ problems. Firms can submit a maximum of 10 submissions, five into the legal expertise section and five into the business of law section, ideally one per category. This year, we will feature the top 10 ranked innovations in detail and then publish a listing of the following 15 highly commended entries.

There will be a separate section for in-house legal departments, which will cover the top company legal functions, a selection of individual in-house innovators, and legal functions that have achieved significant operational transformation. (Detailed guidelines for this section are provided separately.) However, for the first time, in-house lawyers will be invited to also submit to the five legal expertise categories detailed in these guidelines, to reflect the growing ranks of specialists practising in-house.

As with all the reports in the FT Innovative Lawyers series – which now cover North America 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. The editorial content will continue to be informed by the insights of FT journalists.



The introduction to the report will feature the following three rankings:

The law firms behind the top 10 innovations

The report will highlight the law firms behind the top innovation in each of the 10 categories of the report. The focus will be on those firms that have created standout innovations in either the business of law or for clients in the past year.

The top 10 law firm performers in the 2015 FT report

This ranking will feature the top 10 best-performing firms in the 2015 report. The ranking will be determined by the aggregated scores for each firm’s ranked entries across all 10 categories of the report.

The top 10 game changers of the past 10 years

The 2015 FT European report will contain a retrospective examining which firms have moved themselves forward most as a business and which have been responsible for the most game-changing initiatives for the profession and for clients. To be considered for this ranking, we request firms complete a short questionnaire that will cover growth, change, operational innovation, legal innovation and contribution to the profession (a link to the questionnaire is included under How To Submit). Firms will be initially assessed through RSG’s research filters and benchmarks collected over the past 10 years of researching the FT reports and other projects to produce a shortlist of law firms. A winner from the final shortlist of 10 will be selected by a panel of expert judges.


The report will highlight the top 25 innovations in each category. However, this year, we will feature the top 10 ranked innovations in greater detail, outlining the unique approach of the firm and the various contributions made by lawyers. The following 15 highly commended entries in each section will be published in a list. The methodology used to assess the category 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.

LEGAL EXPERTISE SECTION: innovation for clients

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

Submission limit for legal expertise categories: A maximum of five submissions may be made to the legal expertise section in total. These five submissions can be split across the five categories in any way – there is no limit for each category. For example, an intellectual property boutique could choose to submit five entries into the IP section. However, we would expect full-service law firms to demonstrate their innovation in a wide range of legal expertise and ideally submit one entry into each legal expertise category.

1.Corporate & commercial

Corporate and commercial legal advice is often the foundation on which many law firms are built. It encompasses many types of legal work and client. This section will look to represent those lawyers who have made a critical contribution to transforming their clients’ businesses and those who have developed either new law or new legal strategies to deal with everyday business problems. We will look for lawyers whose legal work and other advice has made a unique difference to their clients.


In the field of banking and finance, what solutions have lawyers developed to help clients raise and invest capital? This section will rank the most inventive and significant capital raising, structured finance, restructuring, project finance, regulatory and other legal financing solutions and products developed in recent years.

3.Dispute resolution

No business wants to become bogged down in litigation. But cross-border disputes are increasingly an expensive fact of life for many companies. This section will look for lawyers who have managed not only to help their clients fight their disputes but also to avoid them in the first place. It will continue to focus on original legal arguments and new ways of working to bring about results for clients. The section covers litigation, arbitration and any other form of dispute resolution.

4.Intellectual property

It is estimated that 80 per cent of the value of the Fortune 500 companies is now held in IP and other intangible assets. This new section of the report will cover both transactional and contentious work across the range of IP law. It will look at new ways in which law firms have helped clients to protect and manage their IP assets, as well as new ways to extract or transfer value through the course of a deal.


As new competition and antitrust regulations are implemented across the globe, lawyers are navigating increasingly complex international rules in the course of mergers and acquisitions deals. This category will examine the most inventive competition remedies and arguments, solutions to manage multi-country merger control reviews, and work handling complex competition investigations.


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

Submission limit for business of law categories: A maximum of five submissions may be made to the business of law section in total. A maximum of one submission can be made per category (i.e. to client service, strategic resourcing, technology, social responsibility, and growth and business development).

6.Client service

What distinguishes one premium law firm from another? At the heart of the answer is the experience that law firms can repeatedly deliver to the users of their services. But it is not one-sided. Clients also have to actively contribute to the new-style partnerships. This year, we invite firms and their clients to submit a client relationship or partnership case study, which shows how the client-lawyer relationship is changing and how private practice and in-house lawyers working hand-in-hand can create value for business. Both the law firm and client will be recognised in the FT report and awards.

7.Strategic resourcing

The range of resourcing options for law firms has expanded over the past few years, from legal process outsourcing to new technologies to more sophisticated project management. The disaggregation of legal services is well under way and firms are becoming increasingly adventurous and experimental in the way they approach the delivery of legal services. This category will look for smart collaborations with alternative service providers, more effective use of internal lawyers and non-legal resources, process improvements and any other approaches that have significantly increased efficiency and productivity and reduced costs for clients.


Technology has long been predicted to transform the profession, but law firms are yet to realise its full potential. This category will look at how firms are using new software and systems to significantly change the way they work internally and with clients. We want to hear how law firms are developing and implementing the newest advances in technology, across the range of client work and in the management of their own businesses.

9.Social responsibility

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 programmes that are creative, effective and sustainable. To reflect the 10th edition, we invite firms to submit programmes that were started since 2005 and that have delivered real worth over the past decade.

10.Growth and business development

Law firms have traditionally been focused on delivering pure legal services. Client and market pressure now demand that law firms diversify and become more rounded professional advisers. Over the last few years, we have seen a growth in the collaborations between law firms and other businesses. This category will look at how law firms have deepened and differentiated their existing practice and industry sector strengths from the offerings of competitors and set up new business lines. It will also look at how firms are helping clients navigate legal and business challenges in a more global world.

Innovative individuals

The report will feature the top 10 individuals who emerge from the research as genuine innovators on 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 their own submissions or nominations.


The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday 1 October 2015 ahead of the publication of the report on the FT on 2 October. Those interested in reserving tables at the event should contact Naomi Hu, FT Conferences and Events, on +44 (0) 20 7775 6981 or naomi.hu@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 August. 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

■ Legal expertise: Corporate & commercial

■ Legal expertise: Finance

■ Legal expertise: Dispute resolution

■ Legal expertise: Competition

■ Legal expertise: Intellectual property

■ Business of law: Client service

■ Business of law: Strategic resourcing

■ Business of law: Technology

■ Business of law: Social responsibility

■ Business of law: Growth and business development

■ Innovative individual

■ Innovative In-house legal team (IN-HOUSE AWARD)

■ Innovative general counsel (IN-HOUSE AWARD)

■ Innovation in operational change (IN-HOUSE AWARD)

■ Outstanding innovation of 2015

■ Most innovative European law firm

■ Game changing law firm of the past 10 Years

■ Special achievement award


• 28 May 2015 – deadline for submissions

• 1 October 2015 – FT Innovative Lawyers awards ceremony, Natural History Museum, London

• 2 October 2015 – publication of the FT Innovative Lawyers report


• All submissions must be made through the online entry forms.

Forms for the 10 private practice categories

Form for the game-changing law firm of the past 10 years ranking and award

• You will also be able to access the forms at www.ft.com/innovative-lawyers

• Electronic copies of all submissions must also be emailed to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com. Please send each submission as a separate file with the name of the submitting organisation and category 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, Lvl 4, 39-41 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PQ.

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

Submission format

All submissions to the main 10 categories of the report must provide the following details and address the originality, rationale and impact criteria as set out below.

1.Description of the innovation: including key dates, parties involved and other relevant background. (150-word limit)

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

3.Rationale: Why was this specific approach taken? What was the thinking process behind the solution? What market changes does it respond to? (200-word limit)

4.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? (200-word limit)

5.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 and award categories, via email to ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com or the online entry forms:

Innovative individual

Innovative general counsel or in-house legal team

Special achievement award

Rules for submitting

■ Time period: the 2015 ranking will assess innovations which have been implemented or closed since 1 January 2014. Social Responsibility submissions can cover programmes implemented since 2005.

■ Geography: 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 2015.

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, with a maximum of one submission per Business of law category. There is no limit on nominations to the other categories. If more than the maximum number of submissions are made, only the first in alphabetical order by title will be considered.

Word count: Submissions should be no longer than 750 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 (0)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 (0)20 7873 4597, stephanie.collier@ft.com

■ For enquires about the awards event please contact Naomi Hu, FT Live, Global Conferences & Events, on +44 (0) 20 7775 6981 or naomi.hu@ft.com

For FT corporate subscription enquiries please contact Kim Wickramasinha on +44 (0)20 7873 4740, kim.wickramasinha@ft.com

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