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

Managing and Developing Talent:

Rank Law firm Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT Herbert Smith Freehills The firm collaborated with RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia to design a three-week coding, blockchain and smart contracts course. A first for the market, the course is designed to increase digital literacy, cyber security awareness, coding skills and understanding of foundational blockchain topics among lawyers, who are then more able to author and interpret smart contracts. 8 9 7 24
HIGHLY COMMENDED Yulchon Expanded a training programme for in-house lawyers to all levels of foreign and domestic in-house lawyers. More than 450 in-house lawyers participated in 2018. 8 8 7 23
HIGHLY COMMENDED Corrs Chambers Westgarth Collaborated with the University of Western Australia and technology platform Checkbox to support teams of law students who developed applications to improve the service delivery of participating not-for-profit organisations. 7 8 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Nishith Desai Associates To reduce the bottleneck in senior fee-earners' court availability for litigation, the firm put junior lawyers through a new training initiative to fill the gaps. Disputes are handled at a lower cost with a shorter timeframe.  8 7 7 22
COMMENDED Goodwin Created the Asia Track summer programme, a graduate initiative designed to give bilingual law students opportunities to work in both the US and China. As summer associates, students on the programme split time between the firm's offices and, upon graduation, work for up to two years in the US before joining the firm's Hong Kong office. 8 7 6 21
COMMENDED Khaitan & Co Implemented new policies including counselling for all staff, flexible work and a "leave bank" enabling lawyers with excess holiday to distribute untaken leave among colleagues. The firm has also introduced training to ease the transition from senior associate to partner and development sessions for support staff. 6 7 7 20
COMMENDED King & Wood Mallesons Designed the first international graduate recruitment programme focused on China's Greater Bay Area initiative, to provide dual-jurisdictional exposure to firm lawyers and creating a viable route to qualification in Hong Kong for mainland Chinese students. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Pinsent Masons Launched a new Australia-China graduate programme to address demand in China for high-quality junior lawyers with international legal experience. The programme recruits Chinese nationals who have completed a law degree in Australia. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Trilegal Worked with human resources consultancy Aon Hewitt to build partner leadership capabilities in the firm through customised behavioural interviews as well as cognitive and personality assessments. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED White & Case Partnered with a sociolinguistics academic to help associates in Hong Kong enhance their social interaction and networking skills through academic analysis of recorded conversations and tailored feedback. The firm implemented the teachings in training workshops for associates to improve conversational skills and confidence prior to important client events. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Gilbert + Tobin Launched the G+T Legal Pentathlon, a training programme run by the firm for legal clerks. Modelled on an Olympic pentathlon event, where clerks are tasked with coming up with solutions to legal problems of the future at five "challenge stations" over one day. Solutions are prototyped and piloted by the firm. 7 7 5 19
COMMENDED Allens The firm established the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation in partnership with the University of New South Wales. The hub engages with academics, lawyers and clients to combine research with case studies from the firm to examine the impact of technology on the profession. 6 7 5 18
COMMENDED Eversheds Sutherland In conjunction with its consulting arm, the firm devised training sessions on the use and implementation of the latest technologies for in-house teams. The sessions include practical case studies on how participants can build a case and drive successful change management.  6 6 6 18

Managing and Developing Talent (In-house):

Rank Company Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT HSBC Overhauled the bank's legal department's approach to talent development, including digital skills training for lawyers, creation of a portal where lawyers can apply for digital specialisms as well as a digital degree created in partnership with firm Pinsent Masons to address legal risks of crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, digital payments and AI. The team is producing its own training videos to address questions from HSBC's business units. 8 8 7 23
STANDOUT Westpac To address the blurring of lines between legal and operational functions, the bank's legal team launched both an Insights and a Future Capabilities programme. Partnering with leading Australian universities, law firms, new law and fintech companies, the in-house team is designing training on data analytics, customer experience and process optimisation for lawyers and law students. In 2018, the team delivered 60 hours of this new talent training. 7 8 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Avanade Adopted flexible and remote working strategies supported by collaboration platforms. This has allowed experienced Chinese lawyers who have left the country to support the company’s China operations directly. 7 7 6 20
HIGHLY COMMENDED Siemens Restructured its talent development system to include constant learning and redevelopment opportunities. The new approach addresses a changing business environment, frequent job changes and new digital business models. 6 7 7 20
COMMENDED Takeda Pharmaceuticals Developed a series of training programmes covering contract management, process optimisation and the use of templates to help manage contracts more effectively and efficiently following the $59bn merger with Irish pharmaceutical company, Shire. A virtual portal for legal documents supports the training. 6 7 6 19
COMMENDED ICICI Bank Created an annual law student competition to solve real in-house legal challenges. The competition programme helps students from 12 of the most prestigious Indian law schools learn more about in-house career paths. 6 7 5 18
COMMENDED L’Oréal To challenge the preconception that law firms offer the only career path to law students, the in-house team collaborated with technology company Plexus and Deakin University in Australia to give insight into in-house careers and legal technology through a work experience placement. 6 7 5 18

Diversity and Inclusion:

Rank Law firm or company Description Originality Leadership Impact Total
STANDOUT Herbert Smith Freehills In recognition of the diversity that has moulded business communities across the Asia-Pacific region, the firm launched the Asia Multicultural Network. With champions in each of the firm's nine Asia offices, the network runs client events and provides coaching, mentoring and training for employees focusing on multicultural inclusion. 7 8 7 22
HIGHLY COMMENDED Lazada Helped found the World Bank's Digital2Equal initiative to empower women in the job market and encourage female entrepreneurs. A "mompreneurs" programme allows stay at home mothers to run an online store, an asset management programme encourages women to invest and a hub encouraging female drivers are some of the projects the team helped launch. 7 7 7 21
COMMENDED Ashurst Designed and launched Committed to Change, where senior members of the firm lead by example, speaking out about unacceptable behaviour. Global managing partner Paul Jenkins was the first law firm leader to join the Male Champions of Change programme, helping to reduce gender inequality. 7 7 6 20
COMMENDED Corrs Chambers Westgarth Launched a pilot series of professional development seminars with provisions made for lawyers to join remotely or to bring children with them, including space for children and child-appropriate refreshments. This helps working parents and lawyers on family leave to meet professional development requirements. 6 7 6 19

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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