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We are pleased to announce a new award in the FT Innovative Lawyers programme. 

The Collaborative Innovation Award, the programme’s first global award, is designed to encourage industry-wide innovation and collaboration in legal services. Unlike the other FT Innovative Lawyers awards, which recognise retrospective innovations, the new award will focus on good ideas in their first stages of implementation.

Industry-wide challenges such as how to achieve simplicity, accessibility and speed in legal services require multidisciplinary teams and co-creation between suppliers and consumers. The new award requires law firms, corporate legal departments, law companies and technology firms to come together to design and develop tech-enabled solutions to systemic problems.

We are looking to foster information exchange and “recombinant innovation”. In the 1970s, innovation boomed in Silicon Valley because of the horizontal social connections between different tech entrepreneurs. The more an idea could be shared socially, the more likely it was to work. The Homebrew Computer Club, for example, is famous for introducing Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, co-founders of Apple to each other. 

The legal industry is known as a particularly vertical sector characterised by organisational silos. The FT Collaborative Innovation Award will provide a forum where participants can make horizontal connections. It is a place for individuals or organisations with industry-changing ideas to come together to develop implementable plans, prototypes and minimum viable products. 

As important as the idea is the way that people work together. Points in the awards will be given to broad sets of collaborators that can show: how they have harnessed cognitive diversity; design thinking that puts the consumer of legal services first; and digital technologies to deliver potentially industry-wide impact.

The FTIL Collaborative Innovation Award is designed to break down boundaries between:

— Organisations (competitors and peers)
— Different organisations in the legal industry
— Different skill sets and experiences
— Different jurisdictions

How it works

The awards process will run in two stages, coinciding with the current Innovative Lawyers calendar for 2021. Organisations and individuals can submit collaborative ideas with detailed implementation plans to heats, which run at five different points during the year. They are then encouraged to turn them into prototypes and minimum viable products to enter for dedicated online awards in early 2022. 

 Stage 1: heats

  • Register here with your collaborators or in order to find collaborators;

  • Design the idea into an implementable plan;

  • Submit the entry for assessment into one of five heats;

  • Finalists will be invited to present at the corresponding FT Innovative Lawyers event for the heat;

  • Audiences will be allowed to vote on their preferred innovations;

  • Details of the finalists’ projects will feature on FT.com.

Stage 2: awards

  • All finalists and new entrants with a project that has reached a prototype or minimum viable project will be invited to submit their project again;

  • Finalists will be assessed by a panel of judges to select the overall global awards in each category;

  • Global winners to be announced in 2022 and featured in a special article in the FT.

Schedule for heats

Asia-Pacific — May 13, 2021. Deadline for entries: April 16, 2021.
Global Summit — June 15-18, 2021. Deadline for entries: May 15, 2021.
FTIB Forum — September 16, 2021. Deadline for entries: June 20, 2021.
FTIL Europe — October 14, 2021. Deadline for entries: September 14, 2021.
FTIL North America — December 9, 2021. Deadline for entries: November 1, 2021.
Collaborative Innovation Awards: early 2022.

Award categories

Ideas can cover any of the following but should focus on solutions to systemic problems that cut across legal practice areas or specific business challenges such as accessibility, simplicity or speed:

  • Business of Law: Examples may include: document automation; contract management, learning and development; law firm or corporate legal function management. ​

  • Legal Practice Area: Examples may include: private equity; M&A; litigation; intellectual property; finance; employment. 

  • Industry Sector: Examples may include: real estate; financial services; healthcare; pharma; fast moving consumer goods. 

  • Business or Social Challenge: Examples may include: cyber security; sustainability; compliance; access to justice. ​

Assessment criteria 

Entries will be given points on the following criteria:

  • Breadth of collaboration: how many different stakeholders were involved from law firms, corporate legal teams, law companies, technology or legal technology providers.

  • User-focus: how user-focused was the process to come up with the solution, and the solution itself.

  • Cognitive diversity: how cognitively diverse were the teams and how was this shown through the process? Points will be awarded for teams that field people from different organisations, industries, professions and/or generations with different skills.

  • Digital: solutions should leverage data and both established and emerging technologies.

  • Speed and efficiency: points will be awarded for teams that can get their idea to a prototype or minimum viable product quickly.

  • Potential industry impact: submissions should estimate the potential impact on industry-wide practice.

Who can participate and submit?

  • Organisations can field different teams on one or multiple projects.

  • Individuals working in any part of the legal industry globally are also invited to participate. This includes people working in law firms, corporate legal teams, legal technology companies, and other legal service providers, for example.

  • You can register to take part here. For more information on registering, submitting entries and the research process, please contact RSG Consulting on +44 (0)20 7831 0300, ftresearch@rsgconsulting.com. RSG Consulting, the research partner for the FT Innovative Lawyers programme, is a specialist research and consulting company with decades of experience analysing the legal industry.

Guidelines for participation

  • Projects must involve teams from three or more organisations. This may be a collaboration between a law firm, corporate legal function and technology company, for example. There is no maximum limit to the number of organisations and individuals that can get involved in each project. 

  • Projects should aim to create technology-enabled solutions to industry-wide challenges. Credit will be given to projects that address systemic problems for the legal profession or other industry sectors as a whole. The solution should be designed to be used by others in the industry beyond its creators. 

  • Any technology can be used but particular interest will be paid to projects using emerging technologies and those that foster new types of collaboration, such as blockchain.

Conditions of entry

There is no fee for entering submissions to the Collaborative Innovation Awards, 2021. 

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 organisations contained in any 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.

If you are shortlisted for, or win, an award, then the FT may at its discretion allow you to use the relevant FT Innovative Lawyers logo on your marketing materials. You acknowledge that FT is the owner of the logo and all related goodwill and agree that your use of the logo must be in accordance with any applicable FT branding guidelines in force from time to time or any instructions from the FT, that you will not use it as part of a composite mark or logo, and you will not use it in a manner which causes or is likely to cause confusion or a misleading association between your business and the FT, or damage to FT’s goodwill or reputation, or to the validity of any FT trademark. FT may terminate your right to use the logo at any time.

Entries will be judged by a panel of judges. The names of the judging panel will be made available on request. The judging panel will judge all valid entries submitted against the criteria outlined above, in the ‘Assessment criteria’ section, to select winners.

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 Collaborative Innovation Awards 2021 at any time and to exclude any entries which it considers are inappropriate or do not comply with these terms and conditions. False or deceptive entries will render the entrant ineligible and such entries will be discarded.

The FT and RSG Consulting cannot accept responsibility for, or liability arising from, entrants taking part in the awards. To the fullest extent permissible by law, the FT and RSG Consulting exclude liability for all loss, damage or claim arising as a result of your entry to Collaborative Innovation Awards 2021.

These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law. Disputes arising in connection with the awards shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

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.

The submitter warrants that it has obtained all necessary consents required under applicable data protection and privacy laws to allow the sharing of any personal data contained in the submission with the FT. Contact information will only be used for the purposes of assessing each submission and will be processed in accordance with our privacy policy. 


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