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

Managing and Developing Talent
RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTCuatrecasasA performance-appraisal system allows associates to manage their own careers, be clear about their development goals and receive continuous feedback. Using an IT platform, the system enables up to 48 appraisals a year and focuses lawyers on what they must achieve to get promoted. It is transparent and allows associates to benchmark themselves against peers and the firm’s financial goals. More than 70 per cent of the firm is engaged in the system.89825
STANDOUTKennedysThe firm’s incubator programme encourages employees to design client-facing technology products that remove the need forlawyers to do routine tasks. Employees whose ideas are chosen become chief executives of their products, responsible for developing and taking them to market. If successful, they are rewarded with promotions, and the scheme provides an alternative route to partnership.88824
HIGHLY COMMENDEDDentonsLaunched a mindfulness training programme to help employees in 12 countries deal with mental health challenges. It offers weekly in-person and remote workshops over an eight-week course. Participants reported an average reduction in stress of almost one-third, including a significant improvement in social wellbeing. Commended: Karina Furga-Dabrowska.79723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDFreshfields Bruckhaus DeringerIntroduced the concept of “product owners”, used frequently in digitally mature industries, to enable associate lawyers and technologists to collaborate on client-facing initiatives. The joint accountability enables technologists to learn the practice of law and lawyers to become better acquainted with the business of law. Overall, it has improved the firm’s ability to scale and has accelerated its move to digitisation.88723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDPinsent MasonsIn collaboration with Matthew Syed, the author of business book Black Box Thinking, the firm developed a growth mindset strategy in its transactional services group. It includes encouraging people to learn from mistakes, expanding the scope of client reviews and staff feedback, and a holistic approach to wellbeing. Commended: Andrew Masraf.79723
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAddleshaw GoddardLaunched initiatives to broaden the skills base of lawyers and offer different careers to graduates, including a nine-month secondment programme to the innovation and legal technology team for associates, a placement with the innovation and tech team for trainees and a returner programme that offers five work placements to people who want to re-enter the profession after time away.78722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAllen & OveryIn an attempt to diversify its graduate recruitment, the firm introduced assessment centres where candidates are judged on their behaviours in simulations, a move the firm says helps it recruit students based on potential instead of pedigree. The firm also established a non-legal graduate intake programme, focusing on technology and project management, which has increased the number of recruits with Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) backgrounds.88622
HIGHLY COMMENDEDAshurstA new approach to structuring career pathways straddles traditional legal practice, business service departments and the firm’s delivery functions. The firm caters to client demand for different skill sets, with a focus on technology and legal project management.89522
COMMENDEDHogan LovellsIn a global initiative to define the firm’s culture, goals and code of conduct, the firm used large scale “internal listening” as well as a survey of more than 2,000 employees and clients. These values were put into performance assessments and partner reviews.68620
COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsA flexible and mobile training programme for associates in Germany gives them more control over their development of both legal and commercial skills in the first three years of their careers. More than 230 associates have access to the platform.67720
COMMENDEDOrrickA firm-wide 12-month programme designed by outside psychologists reduces the stigma around mental health and encourages staff to speak out about difficulties, support others and take time off if they are struggling. The training session for partners had an 80 per cent attendance rate in the London office alone. The firm says the programme has changed the firm’s culture, as people feel more empowered to take time off and seek help on mental health.67720
COMMENDEDPaul HastingsThe firm set up a nimble, 50 associate-strong committee of tech-savvy volunteers who look for better ways to use tech to save time and money for clients. Successes include developing matter-management dashboards and piloting new products such as a “contract companion” tool that monitors quality control.77620
Diversity and Inclusion
RankLaw firmDescriptionOriginalityLeadershipImpactTotal
STANDOUTCMS; Macfarlanes; Orrick; Reed Smith; Sidley Austin and White & CaseThe firms set up Reignite Academy to help female lawyers return to corporate law firms after an extended career break. The collaboration between the firms means they can share alumni and bring a scaled response to the challenge of retaining mid-career women in the legal workforce. A further nine firms joined in April 2019.88824
HIGHLY COMMENDEDEcijaLaunched a global diversity programme that includes a conciliationand equality committee, a blind talent recruitment and development policy, an online tool for employees to share interests, opinions and needs, as well as flexible or offsite working. These initiatives led to 83 per cent of employees reporting a better work-life balance.87722
HIGHLY COMMENDEDFieldfisherThe firm’s #SpeakUp campaign explores the power dynamics in work situations that prevent employees raising concerns openly. A series of workshops was accompanied by a system of “values advocates”, or individuals in the firm with whom employees can privately discuss discrimination or a lack of tolerance.88622
HIGHLY COMMENDEDMathesonUsing a top-down approach, the firm made diversity and inclusion a strategic objective, supported by concrete actions such as a scholarship at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland for students from different backgrounds. The employee-designed programme received silver accreditation with the Irish Centre for Diversity.78722
COMMENDEDLS Cube Studio LegaleA compensation scheme for women and young associates promotes diversity, inclusion and innovation, allowing the lawyers to be flexible in how they manage their careers, choosing when to slow down or speed up their progress in the firm.77721
COMMENDEDAshurstDeveloped and launched a platform globally to support staff and line managers through parental leave. Stay in Touch gives people access to academic content, case studies, online coaching and alerts for specific dates and deadlines. Fifty-four people have participated so far.77620
COMMENDEDLatham & WatkinsThe firm created a comprehensive programme for people who are the first in their family to embark on a professional role, with coaching, mortgage advice and networking with other support groups for “first-generation professionals”.77620
COMMENDEDMayer Brown Commended: Sally Davies and Danielle White.58720
COMMENDEDWhite & CaseThe firm worked closely with Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Recruitment and the Black Men in Law Network to connect with black men at every stage of their legal careers, from outreach activities in schools to mentorship for current professionals. The move has seen a 270 per cent increase in black candidates applying to the firm over three years and a 280 per cent increase in interviewees over the past two years.67720
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