Over the past decade, the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers reports have charted innovation among in-house legal teams. In the process of conducting this research, RSG Consulting has defined six distinct areas in which in-house lawyers innovate to transform their operations, relationships and roles. New practices and standards have developed in all six areas, spawning a new type of in-house legal role and leader.

Each of the six is defined below, along with selected individuals who are leading within these fields.

The thought leader

Takes on a lobbying role to influence legislation and regulation; also likely to promote ethical and social responsibility in business, broader industry and legal sector.

Brian Lowry, deputy general counsel, Monsanto: at the forefront of global efforts to encourage business to adopt socially responsible practices, Mr Lowry leads Monsanto’s human rights initiatives.

He helped to integrate UN sustainability goals into the company’s strategy, and to achieve greater reporting transparency.

The risk manager

Pre-empts problems and protects the business from legal, regulatory or reputational threats through processes, tools, or collaborations with other areas of the business.

John Zecca, senior vice-president, Nasdaq: heads market regulation for the stock exchange’s US markets and leads the MartketWatch programme, which is responsible for trading activity surveillance.

His team aims to ensure the integrity of the marketplace.

The strategic adviser

Draws on legal expertise and broader experience to provide commercial, strategic advice that has significantly enhanced the organisation.

Matthew Owens, global head of legal, strategic partnerships and digital medicine, Novartis: leads new collaborations with the tech sector and new approaches to sharing intellectual property and data.

The partnerships keep the healthcare company at the forefront of digital medicine, as tech and life sciences converge.

Provides outstanding advice that proves essential to the growth or survival of the business.

Paul Massey, general counsel, Crowdcube: leads a lean legal team whose contributions have been central to the business’s growth.

Lawyers created legal frameworks to allow the crowdfunding platform to work with more sophisticated investors and designed new products, such as mini-bonds.

As part of a broad GC role, Mr Massey applies his legal expertise to directly generate revenue.

The operational manager

Improves the management of the internal legal function, including how tech is used, processes, contract management, knowledge management and talent.

Benedikte Leroy, GC Emea, Dell: set up an innovation programme to develop ideas that improve how the legal team operates, including a global contract management system and automation tools.

Named by Dell as one of three global innovation champions.

The purchaser

Finds new ways to manage external legal services, including new types of relationship and procurement processes, and greater use of analytics.

Justin Ergler, director, alternative fee intelligence and analytics, GlaxoSmithKline: he has developed new fee models, and extensively analyses a range of cost and delivery data.

This assesses the value law firms deliver and ensures client and law firm interests are closely aligned.

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