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

Strategy and changing behaviours:

Rank Law firm Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT King & Wood Mallesons Responding to the Chinese government's plans for the Greater Bay Area integration scheme, President Xi Jinping’s plan to build a rival to Silicon Valley and Tokyo, the firm established a virtual International Centre, connecting offices in the Greater Bay Area cities of Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hainan to provide cross-city advice. There are considerable legal challenges in harmonising the "one country, two systems" framework and, for law firms in the region, this provides an opportunity to help establish international standards and enhance the rule of law.  8 9 6 23
HIGHLY COMMENDED Herbert Smith Freehills Working with Bendelta, a business management consultancy, the firm co-ordinated new initiatives around wellness, work allocation and innovation timelines to increase lawyer engagement. 8 7 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Bae, Kim & Lee The firm created inter-Korean relations and economic co-operation team of 40 professionals, including practice area specialists and former government ministers, who specialise in building links between the two Koreas. 6 8 7 21
COMMENDED Gilbert + Tobin To encourage innovation, each lawyer is allocated 50 billable hours a year to work on new projects. Of 1m available hours, 820,000 were allocated with a focus on document automation and legal project management. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Herbert Smith Freehills Relaunched their legal operations team in Asia to add individuals skilled in pricing, data analysis and technology to the firm. The team helps the firm and clients improve processes and add value, and has become an revenue generator for the firm in its own right. 6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Hogan Lovells Implemented a programme called Around the World in 90 Days to drive cross-border business by incentivising internal client referrals. Participating partners earn one point per introduction and five if this converts into a new instruction. The partner with the most points has the opportunity send an associate from their team on a two-week secondment to an international office. 6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Anand and Anand Working to improve brand protection in India, the firm encourages clients to leverage the value of their brands and intangible assets. The firm is expanding the concept of intellectual property beyond traditional trademark and patent law to other areas, such as "sensory" IP for perfumes with distinctive olfactory features. 7 7 5 19

Strategy and changing behaviours (In-house):

Rank Company Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT DBS Bank Created a framework for the responsible use of data, clarifying ethical and legal consequences for the bank and its customers. The framework provides a way for business units to carry out self-assessment of the use of data and recommends improvements. Business units now have greater autonomy to use data responsibly and bring products to market faster. The framework, called Pure, has allowed the bank to improve communications with customers and regulators around how it uses personal data. 8 8 7 23
HIGHLY COMMENDED Telstra To cut company headcount by 25 per cent during a restructuring, the team introduced several initiatives to become leaner. A new matter management system, agile working practices and revamped governance procedures have enabled more work to be carried out by fewer lawyers.  6 8 7 21
COMMENDED Xero To make contractual documents more accessible to customers and colleagues, the team trained on plain-language documentation to make their contracts jargon-free.  6 7 6 19
COMMENDED Bank of China (Hong Kong) Established a new risk management structure to enable the in-house team to work more closely with other risk teams in the bank. Legal, compliance, operational and fraud teams work together to complete due diligence, removing barriers in the product development cycle. 6 6 6 18

Explore the Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific rankings 2019


  • FT Most Innovative Law Firms
  • Rule of Law and Access to Justice
  • Most Innovative In-house legal teams
  • Collaboration

Business of Law

  • Data, Knowledge and Intelligence
  • Managing and Developing Talent
  • Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion
  • New Business and Service Delivery Models
  • New Products and Services
  • Strategy and Changing Behaviours
  • Technology

Legal Expertise

  • Accessing New Markets and Capital
  • Enabling Business Growth and Transformation
  • Managing Complexity and Scale
  • Litigation and Disputes
  • Creating a New Standard
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