The 2023 FT Innovative Lawyers North America report is open for submissions from law firms and in-house legal teams. This annual report explores the key trends and transformations taking place in the legal sector, both in client-facing legal practice and in the way law firms and corporate legal departments are managed.

The accompanying FT Innovative Lawyers North America awards event will be held in person on Monday, December 4 in New York.  


Private practice categories  

Law firms are invited to make a maximum of nine submissions across seven categories. Submissions will be assessed by RSGI using benchmarks, interviews, surveys and other research. The top scoring submissions in each category will be featured in the report and shortlisted for the awards.   The overall FT Law Firm Index for North America in 2023 will be a holistic assessment of law firm innovation and success. An aggregate of the firm’s submission scores will be a component of its overall score, but firms will also be assessed on their use of data and technology, social responsibility, people strategies and growth. These latter scores will come from a short questionnaire that will be sent to participating firms.  

Practice of law: submissions are invited from teams working in any legal practice with specific examples or case studies that demonstrate 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 three 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. (Three submissions per firm)  

Business of law: submissions are invited from law firms on any initiatives or projects relating to law firm strategy, management or operations. This could include new business, resourcing or delivery models, firm-wide digital or transformation programmes, new ways of working with clients, or other firm-wide business innovations. (One submission per firm)  

People and skills: submissions are invited from law firms that describe ways in which working culture and practices have changed. Submissions are invited from law firms that are rethinking how they work, or the way they recruit, train, engage and develop their staff. (One submission 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) 

Innovative practitioners: submissions are invited for individual legal practitioners who are leading innovation 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 its clients. Please note that individuals who have been profiled in this category in a previous FT Innovative Lawyers report are not eligible for this category. (One individual per firm)  

Innovative leaders: submissions are invited for individual leaders. This includes managing and senior partners, chairs or chief executives. They must show a record of innovation and impact within their organisations, in driving growth and financial performance, changing culture and behaviours, or driving innovation or firm-wide transformation. Please note that individuals who have been profiled in this category in a previous FT Innovative Lawyers report are not eligible for this category. (One individual per firm)  

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

Corporate law department categories 

Submissions or nominations for innovative in-house legal teams are also invited in the following areas:  

  • Leadership: submissions are invited for group general counsel and other leaders in legal teams who have delivered significant value to their organisations through strategic legal advice and leadership of the legal department. Examples may include helping the legal department to innovate through digitisation, approaches to people management and working with the wider business.  

  • 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 documents and processes to improve customer experience, or the legal team’s role in developing new products, services or revenue streams for the business.  

  • Operations and digital: submissions are invited from legal teams that have become more digital, and are using data, 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.  

  • Talent: 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 adapt.  

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

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 19, 2023. The research process will run from July to October. The report will be published with the Financial Times newspaper on Tuesday December 5, 2023, and an awards ceremony will be held on Monday December 4, 2023.  

There is no cost for submitting entries but participation in 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 specialist research and consulting company with decades of experience analysing the legal industry.  

How to submit entries  

All submissions must be made via the online submissions form at 

To register to access the submissions form, please email 

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 they 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. For submissions where there is no client involved, the external reference should be an “internal client” in the organisation who can attest to the impact of the innovation.

Rules for submitting  

Time period: the 2023 ranking will assess innovations instituted from January 1, 2022 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. All submissions are assessed by RSGI, which uses a process of interviews with clients, submitting lawyers and experts.  

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.  

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 19 — deadline for submissions  

October — awards shortlists revealed  

December 4 — awards event  

December 5 — report publication on and with the Financial Times newspaper  

Contact details  

For research or submission questions please contact RSGI at

For editorial inquiries please contact Harriet Arnold at the FT, at (please put FTILNA in the subject field). 

For advertising opportunities or other research sponsorship opportunities please contact Robert Grange, global franchise development director and head of special reports at the FT,, or +44 (0) 207873 4418; or Alex Roszkowski, account director, head of legal at the FT, at, +44 (0) 7481 606760.  

For inquiries about the awards event, please contact

Important information

There is no fee for entering submissions to FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2023. 

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 2023 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 2023. 

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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