Top 10 innovative lawyers in North America
For the first time in the FT’s special reports on innovative lawyers, the top 10 list of individuals is dominated by women. What do they have in common? Nearly all practise in the vanguard of new businesses and technologies, and all are pushing against strict definitions of lawyers. Nevertheless, legal innovation is not found only where new practices and industries emerge.
Overall winner: Harriet Pearson
Partner, Hogan Lovells
Harriet Pearson boasts an impressive 20-year record as a lawyer, entrepreneur and forward thinker. It is her intellectual curiosity and ability to spot the “next big thing” that led to her award as this year’s most innovative individual lawyer. She made cyber issues her topic before business was even aware of the risk. She was appointed as the first cyber security counsel for a major corporation, at IBM.
Leaving a legal role, she became the first chief privacy officer for IBM, setting a trail that other big companies were to follow. She continues to create her own roles and became the first innovation and new ventures partner at Hogan Lovells, where she acts for innovative companies such as Uber and Bloomberg. Her legal practice covers a number of areas such as technology, human resources, compliance, policy and communications. She personifies the multidisciplinary legal professional that businesses say they need for their 21st century challenges.
At Hogan Lovells, Ms Pearson devised and launched a cyber risk services unit, a technical and risk management consultancy that supports the firm’s lawyers and provides non-legal services to clients. She is a core member of new chief executive Steve Immelt’s team that is transforming the firm. Her key contributions have been: the development of a cohesive strategy that connects every member of the firm with the resources and information to boost innovation and the creation and continued leadership of a new business incubator, Hogan Lovells New Ventures. Ms Pearson’s ability to adapt to a quickly changing external environment often puts her thinking way ahead of her peers. Her open-mindedness, collaborative approach and design thinking has enabled her to be at the forefront of some of the big challenges facing business in the past two decades.
Global Director of Data Analytics
Zev Eigen joined Littler Mendelson as its first global director of data analytics in 2015. He has been instrumental in helping the firm become a leader in data-led law services. Previously, he taught law at Northwestern, New York and Yale universities, specialising in HR law. He is recognised for his pioneering application of prediction modelling and artificial intelligence to this field. His work has since expanded into other areas where statistical analysis and prediction modelling can be applied to law, such as class actions.
The development of Littler’s Big Data Initiative and analytics capabilities, tops the “Data, analytics and intelligence” rankings in this report. Through machine learning and predictive analytics initiatives led by Mr Eigen, the firm can predict the likely duration, costs and outcome of lawsuits, helping clients to make better-informed strategic decisions.
Mr Eigen has also co-founded Cherry Tree Data Science, which uses AI to evaluate the risks associated with hiring job applicants who have a criminal record, and helps employers to identify safe and qualified applicants from that pool of potential recruits.
Shearman & Sterling
Stephen Fishbein is described by clients and peers as “brilliant and courageous”. As an assistant US attorney-general in New York, he specialised in bank and computer fraud prosecutions. He was appointed as the independent compliance monitor for Baker Hughes from 2007-2010, following one of the biggest ever Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases. He is a partner in Shearman & Sterling’s litigation group and co-chairs its criminal and enforcement practice. For the past 10 years, Mr Fishbein has also worked for the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on a pro-bono basis.
Mr Fishbein is recognised in this year’s report for his representation of Todd Newman in the landmark US v Newman case, which clarified the definition of insider trading. He and his team were the first to pursue a strategy to challenge the definition of insider trading, which they argued had been expanded significantly since it was originally defined by the Supreme Court in the early 1980s. Through his efforts, Mr Fishbein proved there was no direct personal gain to Mr Newman from the insider tip, nor knowledge of any personal benefit.
Human rights advocate Jayne Fleming has been the force behind several of Reed Smith’s award winning programmes to provide support to refugees. She straddles the different areas of corporate law and humanitarian aid to fight for change in refugee protection. Ms Fleming has represented torture survivors and asylum seekers across the world, with extensive experience working with traumatised children who have suffered violence and family separation. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ms Fleming assembled a small team of lawyers and volunteers and set up mobile legal clinics and shelters to protect women and children who were at risk of abuse in the makeshift refugee camps. They helped several victims secure permanent US residency. The Haiti Project was awarded “Innovation in social responsibility: projects” at the 2014 FT Innovative Lawyers awards for North America.
In 2015, Ms Fleming spearheaded the firm’s Middle East refugee protection project, taking the concept of the mobile clinic a step further to bring together lawyers, doctors, interpreters and advocates to support refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and three Greek islands.
When unrest surfaced in Chicago last year with a video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black youth, Lori Lightfoot took on the seemingly impossible task of finding a way to restore trust between police and citizens. Appointed chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, she led a multi-stakeholder effort to review and advocate for reform in the Chicago police force. Determined not to let the report become yet another document “relegated to the dustbin of history”, Ms Lightfoot broadened the engagement and consultation process to include community groups, lawyers and experts working together to produce recommendations for reform.
She wanted the report to be unimpeachable, so she required each group’s findings to be grounded in quantitative and qualitative sources including data and academic studies, witness interviews and reviews of existing policies. The report and recommendations have had significant traction nationally and are broadly seen as a template for reform.
Ms Lightfoot is a criminal and civil litigator. She is also co-chair of Mayer Brown’s committee on diversity and inclusion.
Baker & McKenzie
As a young man, Theo Ling worked on a mobile DJ service that used cassette tapes and catalogued songs, artists and track locations on a Rolodex index. Seeing that playing music this way was inefficient, he created a searchable database and turned an Apple computer into a precursor of mixing music digitally. Mr Ling brings that interest in the intersection of technology and information to his work leading Baker & McKenzie’s Canadian IT/communications practice group. This interest, combined with his belief that the future of legal practice will be multidisciplinary and collaborative, has led him to hire data scientists, designers, foresight experts and other professionals.
Mr Ling and his team have developed a platform, DataCompliance IQ, which helps companies comply with information governance obligations globally. The platform encompasses Baker & McKenzie’s data compliance knowledge from the 120 countries in which it operates. The benefit of developing such a platform, shared on a complementary basis with clients, is that it is creating a new business line. DataCompliance IQ wins the FT award for “Innovation in integrated solutions” this year
Latham & Watkins
Vivian Maese is recognised as a leading fintech expert and Wall Street veteran. In the 1980s, she was part of the Project Fulcrum team that led the digitisation of Wall Street. She has advised on all aspects of transactions across intellectual property, technology and financial services.
She also has wide-ranging experience at financial institutions including Salomon Brothers, Citigroup, the New York Stock Exchange, Morgan Stanley and BIDS Trading. She has overseen advances in financial technology and helped to create big data trading monitoring tools and legal frameworks for blockchain and cryptocurrency-based businesses. In addition, Ms Maese has worked with the Securities and Exchange Commission to establish laws and legal frameworks around market access rules and new market models for the NYSE.
Ms Maese connects people and businesses through a partnership with Empire Startups, a support network for young fintech companies.
Recently, she enabled a joint venture between Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley-based Palantir Technologies to form Signac, which will use next generation data analytic technology to root out rogue traders.
Before turning to the law, Andrea Reid spent 14 years working as a medicinal and process chemist. She is listed as an inventor on 14 US patents and earned an MSc in organic chemistry by attending night school. She graduated from law school in 2006 and became a partner within a year. Ms Reid specialises in patent law in the pharmaceutical industry. She draws on her scientific background to create intellectual property strategies that benefit biotech and pharmaceutical start-ups. She has been instrumental in securing more than $5.5bn in acquisitions and funding for new ventures.
Ms Reid’s work with Nimbus Therapeutics tops the “Enabling clients to innovate” rankings in this year’s FT report. She devised a dual-pronged intellectual property strategy that protected Nimbus’s use of ACC-inhibitors in human medicine. Ms Reid prides herself on helping clients to bring new medicines to market through the insights she can give thanks to her ability to straddle science and the law.
Morrison & Foerster
Miriam Wugmeister has guided Morrison & Foerster’s (MoFo) privacy and data security group through exponential growth since taking on the co-chair role in 2003. It has grown from four lawyers to more than 60 across the US, Europe and Asia. The group, which acts for half the Fortune 50, has been instrumental in shaping global privacy laws.
Ms Wugmeister helps clients such as Caterpillar with their digital transformations. She specialises in assessing the legal challenges and implications of developing technologies for business and she and her team are ranked in the FT’s “Enabling clients to innovate” category this year.
She also heads the Global Privacy Alliance, a coalition of leading multinational businesses, which monitors privacy and data security laws around the world and advocates for their rational development across a broad range of industries. The GPA gives businesses a forum to discuss their challenges in remaining compliant with global regulations that cannot keep pace with emerging technologies.
As a champion of diversity, she founded MoFo’s Summit for Women In-House Counsel, an annual event presented by MoFo’s female lawyers.
Global chairman and CEO
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Mitchell Zuklie took the helm of the firm nearly four years ago. In that time, he has pursued a strategy that combines an ambition to make it the best law firm in the world to work for together with a focus on the three industry sectors in which it specialises: technology, energy and infrastructure and finance.
Seeing a talent drain as a critical challenge for the profession, Mr Zuklie developed a partnership with SoFi, the online personal finance company, to help reduce the student loan burden for associates and introduced a parental leave programme that includes 22 weeks paid leave and job protection for nine months. In addition, he has increased the diversity of the firm’s senior leadership, increasing female representation on the board and management committee to a third.
In order to empower partners and encourage collective responsibility for the firm’s direction and innovation, he implemented 2% Time, which encourages partners to devote 2 per cent of their time to an initiative that will improve the firm or profession. Mr Zuklie’s firm is the best performing law firm in the FT 25 this year, the index that captures the scores for all law firm entries ranked in the FT report.
Mr Zuklie was one of the first law firm leaders to harness the power of design thinking into his firm, now becoming ubiquitous among top law firms worldwide. He led a partnership with the Stanford Legal Design Initiative, a combination of professors from the law, engineering and design schools, to provide insights into new process improvements and methods of delivery.