The tables below rank law firms and in-house legal teams for the FT Innovative Lawyers North America awards.

Enabling Business Growth and Transformation
Rank Law firm Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT Orrick Worked with Microsoft to develop a new framework for buying renewable energy that shifts the risk of unpredictable weather conditions on to insurance companies. The framework helps companies buy renewable energy and prevents dramatic price changes from impacting their balance sheet. This will help Microsoft move towards its commitment to use 70 per cent renewable energy to power its data centres by 2023. Commended: Giji John 9 8 8 25
STANDOUT Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher  Representing New Jersey, secured a repeal of federal limits on sports betting in the US in 2018. The firm argued that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated state sovereignty. States can now legislate on sports betting and New Jersey's sports betting industry has boomed since the ruling. Sports betting has since been legalised in 13 other states. 7 9 8 24
HIGHLY COMMENDED Stikeman Elliott  Worked with private equity firm Berkshire Partners on a share buyback worth C$107m in the Canadian fashion business client Atritzia, alongside a secondary offering for C$330m. Working closely with regulators, lawyers avoided the need for shareholder approval, allowing Aritzia to recover shareholder value quickly.  8 7 8 23
HIGHLY COMMENDED Mayer Brown The firm created a hybrid deal for Nestlé, giving the company the right to sell Starbucks' coffee products without buying the brand. The flexible deal allows Nestlé to expand its product offering globally, while enabling Starbucks to expand its retail business. 8 7 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED McGuireWoods  Advised Dominion Energy, one of the largest US utility groups, on its $13.4bn acquisition of US energy and gas utility Scana. The firm helped secure regulatory approval for the deal while navigating lawsuits, as well as political and media challenges relating to a nuclear project Scana abandoned in 2017.  7 7 7 21
HIGHLY COMMENDED Sidley Austin  Advised Volkswagen on a co-investment with Ford in self-driving technology start-up Argo, expanding on the two carmakers' plans to collaborate on electric and self-driving vehicles. The firm guided Volkswagen through cultural differences between the companies. It devised an agreement that acknowledged Ford and Argo's prior working relationship. 7 7 7 21
HIGHLY COMMENDED Sullivan & Cromwell  Negotiated with city governments and created a deal for Motivate, owner of bike-sharing schemes including New York's Citibike, to be acquired by Lyft, the ride-hailing company. The firm also helped Motivate spin off part of its business as a bicycle maintenance company. New investment from Lyft has enabled Motivate to double Citibike's area of operations and add 40,000 bikes to its fleet. 6 8 7 21
COMMENDED Goodwin Procter  Devised a structure for US software company Ebix to acquire its client, the Indian online travel agency Yatra, creating India's largest travel services company. The tie-up used preferred stock as part of its purchase and allows Yatra shareholders to sell their Ebix stock back to Ebix in two years at 90 per cent of the deal price. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Vinson & Elkins Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft acted for the hedge fund D E Shaw, and Vinson & Elkins represented the agriculture investor Continental Grain Company on a joint activist investor challenge to Bunge after a decrease in share price and two failed attempts to sell the business. Despite owning less than 10 per cent of the agricultural trading house, the two companies reached agreements to add four directors to Bunge’s board and the former chairman of CGC has been appointed chief executive.  6 6 7 19
COMMENDED Dechert  Advised pharmaceutical company Egalet, now called Zyla Life Sciences, on a reorganisation plan that included acquiring pain products from Iroko Pharmaceuticals while it was undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. 6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Nelson Mullins In 2018, the firm guided Amalgamated Bank through its $58.5m acquisition of New Resource Bank and its $104m initial public offering, becoming the first union-owned bank in the US to go public. 6 6 7 19
COMMENDED Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman  Since 1998, the US government has delayed plans to build facilities to dispose of spent nuclear fuel building up at power plants across the country. The firm won approval for client Holtec International, the energy technology company, to build the first consolidated, spent-fuel storage facility for nuclear waste in the US. Holtec was able to dismantle a decommissioned nuclear plant it purchased.  6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Ropes & Gray  Guided Bain Capital through a partnership with drugmaker Pfizer to create Cerevel Therapeutics. Pfizer will license treatments for central nervous system disorders to the new company and Bain will commit to fund $350m to develop them. It provides a new partnership model for private equity and big pharma.  6 6 7 19
COMMENDED Weil, Gotshal & Manges  Advised Brookfield Asset Management on its acquisition of Oaktree Capital Management. To ensure public certainty and smooth executive succession, the firm designed a structure that gives Brookfield minor influence over voting rights with the ability to gain more control over time.  6 7 6 19
Enabling Business Growth and Transformation (In-house)
Rank In-house legal team Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
Standout General Motors The carmaker negotiated an agreement with Cruise, its autonomous vehicle subsidiary, and competitor Honda to develop the next generation of AVs. The legal team created a risk allocation mechanism and protected the company's intellectual property. 8 9 8 25
Standout Western Union Lawyers at the money transfer company helped the business build a white-label model that allows customers of international banks and telecoms companies to use the Western Union platform. Partners include Kenya's Safaricom, Korea's KEB Hana Bank and Russia's Sberbank.  7 8 9 24
Highly Commended Waymo An agreement negotiated between Renault, Nissan and Waymo — a start-up that began as a Google self-driving car project — will bring driverless cars and trucks to Europe and Japan. The legal team has helped facilitate other partnerships with companies such as Fiat Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover and Lyft. 9 8 6 23
Highly Commended Bristol-Myers Squibb The pharmaceutical company's legal team worked closely with lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis on the acquisition of Celgene. The team also assisted with the divestiture of Otezla, a psoriasis drug owned by Celgene. This happened in four to six weeks, which enabled the deal to go through. 7 7 8 22
Highly Commended Lyft Lyft acquired bike-share company Motivate, which operates exclusive bike-sharing schemes in several US cities. After San Francisco tried to break the exclusivity agreement, Lyft's in-house team won a preliminary injunction. The acquisition has enabled Lyft to move from ride-hailing service to mobility company.  7 7 8 22
Commended Figure Technologies Founded in 2018, Figure allows homeowners to take out loans against the equity in their property using blockchain technology. Its legal team worked with regulators to allow the business model to launch. Figure now lends $85m a month to homeowners. 7 7 7 21
Commended Lime The legal team at the electric scooter and bike hire company worked with colleagues in government relations to provide talking points and guides on data privacy. This has led to good relationships with regulators, which in turn has been instrumental in helping the company expand. 6 8 7 21

Explore the Innovative Lawyers North America rankings 2019


  • Most innovative law firms
  • Most innovative in-house legal teams
  • Rule of law and access to justice
  • Collaboration

Business of Law

  • Technology and data
  • New business and service delivery models
  • New products and services
  • Talent, strategy and changing behaviours
  • Diversity and inclusion

Legal Expertise

  • Accessing new markets and capital
  • Creating a new standard
  • Enabling business growth and transformation
  • Litigation and disputes
  • Managing complexity and scale
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