The 2024 FT Innovative Lawyers North America report, in which we explore the key developments in the legal sector, is open for submissions. We are seeking entries that detail case studies of innovative work, in both the practice and the business of law, from law firms and in-house legal teams.    

The most innovative submissions will be shortlisted for the accompanying FT Innovative Lawyers North America awards event, which will be held on Monday, December 9 at Gotham Hall in New York. The shortlisted submissions will be featured in the FT Innovative Lawyers report, published in print and online on Tuesday, December 10.   

Submissions  

Private practice categories   

Law firms are invited to make a maximum of eight submissions across seven categories. Submissions will be assessed by the FT’s research partner, RSGI, using benchmarks, interviews, surveys and other research.    

Law firms will be assessed on more than innovation. The highest-scoring submissions across all the categories will comprise the firm’s innovation score in the overall FT law firm index. The FT law firm index will also be based on scores for a firm’s use of data and technology, social impact, people strategies and financial growth. These latter scores will be based on answers to the law firm index questionnaire.   

Business of law: submissions are invited from law firms on initiatives that relate to the transformation or growth of the firm. This could include new business models, new products and services, or new strategies to expand and differentiate the firm in its markets. (One submission per firm)    

Knowledge and data: submissions are invited from law firms on any initiatives or projects relating to use of knowledge and data. This could include internal projects designed to institutionalise knowledge or facilitate the use of technology, such as generative AI. It could equally involve complementing legal advice or developing it into a product. (One submission per firm)   

People and skills: submissions are invited from law firms that are rethinking workplaces, how they work, or the way they recruit, engage and develop their staff. It could include the ways law firms are developing new skills and subject-matter expertise, new pay and reward models, or how the firm is leveraging a wider range of professional capabilities. (One submission per firm)   

Practice of law: submissions are invited from teams working in any legal practice, with a specific example or case study that demonstrates the changing practice of law. The submissions should show how lawyers have bridged professional disciplines, created new standards, delivered outstanding outcomes for clients or created new practice areas, with originality and impact. Each firm can make a total of two practice of law submissions, in any of the following categories: sustainability and ESG; private capital; cyber security and data protection; technology; healthcare and life sciences; other. (Two submissions per firm)   

Responsible business: submissions are invited that detail innovative ways in which firms are having an impact in addressing challenges of sustainability, social injustice, or social inequality, including diversity and inclusion initiatives. (One submission per firm)    

Individual practitioner: submissions are invited for individual legal practitioners who are innovators within their firm or practice. The submissions should show how the individual has changed the way legal work is done, how they have influenced their firms, industry, business or wider society, and how they are changing the way the firm works with clients. Please note that individuals who have already been profiled as individuals in a previous FT Innovative Lawyers report are not eligible for this category. (One individual per firm)    

Intrapreneur: submissions are invited for individuals who have acted as change makers within their firms. They can include, but are not limited to, senior leaders and departmental heads, and heads of innovation and transformation. We are interested in intrapreneurs who have helped their firms to change culture, behaviours, processes, and adapted them to be more relevant to their people and clients. Please note that individuals who have previously been profiled as innovative intrapreneurs, change makers or leaders in a previous FT Innovative Lawyers report are not eligible for this category. (One individual per firm)   

FT law firm index: Participating firms will be asked to respond to a questionnaire covering use of data and technology, people and talent, social responsibility policies and financial growth figures. These responses will be scored and benchmarked against other law firms to calculate the firm’s position in the overall FT law firm index.   

Corporate law department categories   

In-house legal teams are invited to make up to five submissions, in the following categories. Please also include contact details for the chief legal officer and a commercial reference who can be made available for interview.    

Commercial and strategic partners: submissions are invited from legal teams that have helped deliver more value to their internal business client or to their business’s external customers. Examples may include: enabling business growth or transformation; the redesign of legal processes to improve customer experience (One submission per company)    

New products and services: submissions are invited from legal teams that have helped devise new products, services or revenue streams for the business. (One submission per company)   

Operations and digital: submissions are invited from legal teams that have adopted new digital tools, including generative AI. Submissions are also invited from legal teams that have introduced new processes or new ways of working to improve how they operate. Examples may relate to the management and operations of the legal function, or to how it manages relationships with its external law firms and legal service providers. (One submission per company)    

People and skills: submissions are invited from legal teams that are building skills and capabilities in new ways. We are interested in new approaches to working in teams and engaging individuals. Examples may relate to the legal team, or the role the legal team is playing in helping the business to adapt. (One submission per company)   

Sustainability and responsible business: submissions are invited from legal teams that are helping their businesses and industries to meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. Examples may also cover legal teams’ initiatives to address challenges of social injustice, social inequality, or inclusion and diversity. (One submission per company)    

How the report and the awards are assessed  

The report will feature a selection of the submissions received, along with articles based on surveys and other qualitative research methods. The submission deadline is July 10, 2024. The research process will run from July to October. The report will be published with the Financial Times newspaper on December 10, and an awards ceremony will be held on December 9.   

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 RSGI, a research and intelligence agency with decades of experience analysing the legal industry.    

How to submit entries  

All submissions must be made via the online submissions form at https://ftinnovativelawyers.highq.com/  

To register an account to access the forms, please email ftresearch@rsgi.co to request login details.    

Submission format   

All private practice law firm submissions must provide the following details and address the criteria set out below. Please note that word limits are enforced in the online entry forms.    

The challenge: What commercial problem or business issue is being solved? (75 word limit)    

Description of the innovation: A brief description of the individual, team or initiative. (75 word limit)    

Originality: why is the individual, team or initiative innovative? Which elements are most original? (200 word limit)    

Leadership: what role did the lawyers, firm, individual or legal department play? For which aspects of the solution, approach or implementation were the lawyers responsible? How did you arrive at the specific approach or solution that was finally adopted? (200 word limit)    

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)    

References: all submissions must include contact details for at least one internal and at least one client, or other external, reference, who can be contacted to discuss the details of the innovation on a confidential basis.    

Rules for submitting 

Time period: the 2024 ranking will assess innovations instituted from January 1, 2023 onwards.   

Submissions must be no longer than 750 words in total, written in English and answer each of the questions on the entry form.    

Assessment of submissions

Submissions will be fully researched and will be assessed on their own merits. The RSGI research team also uses independent experts in the assessment process. Entries will be judged against other submissions in each category.

Innovations and innovators will be scored for their originality, leadership and impact out of a total of 30 points.    

Client references are a critical part of the assessment process. Contact details for internal and client or external referees must be included on every submission.   

All submissions are assessed by RSGI, 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.   

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 in the region.    

Assessment criteria will be based on local norms and benchmarks of innovation.   

Awards and report schedule 

July 10 — deadline for submissions    

October — awards shortlists revealed    

December 9 — awards event   

December 10 — report publication on FT.com and with the Financial Times newspaper    

Contact details

For research/submission questions please contact RSGI at ftresearch@rsgi.co

For editorial inquiries please contact Harriet Arnold at the FT at harriet.arnold@ft.com (please put FTILNA in the subject field).  

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Robert Grange, strategic partnerships director and head of special reports at the FT, robert.grange@ft.com, +44 (0) 207873 4418; or Alex Roszkowski, account director, head of legal at the FT, at alex.roszkowski@ft.com, +44 (0) 7481 606760.    

For inquiries about the awards event, please contact lewis.finch@ft.com.  

Important information

There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2024.  

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 RSGI 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. 

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. 

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 North America 2024 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 RSGI cannot accept responsibility for, or liability arising from, entrants taking part in the awards. To the fullest extent permissible by law, the FT and RSGI exclude liability for all loss, damage or claim arising as a result of your entry to FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2024. 

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.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
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