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In the FT’s Innovative Lawyers 2022 report for Europe, the reporting and case studies feature developments that are changing the legal industry against a backdrop of tumult and conflict.

Often, the legal industry itself plays a transformative role. In Ukraine, lawyers are defiant in preparing for a period of rebuilding and renewing — as well as potential reparations claims. Whether based in Kyiv or outside the country, they describe a positive future in which reconstruction could involve working with multinational clients, in sectors from agriculture and retail to artificial intelligence and military technology.

Across Europe, law firms have been reporting record revenues, thanks to bumper M&A deals, and record partner profits. The outlook, however, is bleaker as economies face recession. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, much has changed, thanks largely to the pandemic, new attitudes to work, and geopolitical crises. This is reflected in the articles that follow.

Law firm leaders acknowledge that their staff and their clients want to see changes in the way firms are run. To help explore those changes, our annual table ranking commercial law firms in Europe has been significantly expanded and updated. Innovation is still key, but other measures are reflected, too — from human resources strategies and digitisation to revenues and profitability.

Our message: this is what success in a law firm looks like now.

The legal industry depends on its people. Seven highlighted law firm leaders demonstrate the range of necessary skills and qualities. All aim to bring about radical change. We also focus on practitioners whose expertise helps drive and encourage some of the most effective innovations for business and society. And, we showcase legal “intrapreneurs”— the individuals driving change within their own law firms.

While war in Ukraine clearly tops the current geopolitical agenda, the need to tackle climate change persists. We look at how lawyers are using a mix of litigation and advice to hold leaders to account on green claims.

In the rest of the report, alongside pieces on various aspects of legal innovation, are panels of case studies featuring innovative lawyers working in law firms and in-house legal teams. Each panel selects a winner, as well as standout and commended firms, with the most outstanding showcased at an awards event in London on October 13. More on the methodology is available here.

Our thanks go to RSGI which, alongside the FT, researches and compiles this review of forward-thinking law firms, in-house legal teams, and lawyers.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
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