In our series discussing key opportunities for law firms to distinguish client partnerships as part of their business development and public relations initiatives, we’ve covered Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards and American Lawyer Media’s Leaders in Tech Law Awards as two prominent recognitions to consider. Financial Times similarly hosts a renowned annual program celebrating the achievements of firms and legal departments, and its 2022 call for submissions is now open.
Financial Times is seeking nominations for its North America Innovative Lawyers 2022 awards honoring individuals, firms and legal teams who have developed innovative approaches to delivering legal services or have advanced environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
The FT awards span seven private practice and four in-house categories, including:
- Commercial and Strategic Partners – recognizes legal teams that have added value to their businesses or customers through innovation. Examples may include “enabling business growth or transformation, the redesign of legal documents and processes to improve customer experience,” or “developing new products, services or revenue streams for the business.”
- Operations – recognizes legal teams that are leveraging data, new processes or innovative methods to improve their operations. Examples may include creative “management and operation of the legal function” or how teams manage relationships with external law firms and legal service providers.
- Talent – recognizes legal teams that have developed new approaches to building skills and capabilities, working in teams and engaging individuals. Examples may relate to “the legal team or the role the legal team is playing in helping the business adapt.”
- Sustainability and Responsible Business – recognizes legal teams that have developed innovative ways to help their businesses and / or industries meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Examples may include business initiatives that “address challenges of social injustice, social inequality or inclusion and diversity.”
Earning recognition among elite Innovative Lawyers honorees has become a coveted position within the legal industry, and we expect competition to escalate in 2022, particularly as businesses increasingly prioritize ESG initiatives and evolve their management strategies in a post-pandemic environment.
Here are a few best practices to help strengthen your submissions:
- Identify the problem. Begin by defining the problem or challenge that the innovation set out to solve. Tell a short but compelling story illustrating the conflict that the team, company or its consumers faced to underscore how the solution ultimately helped the team overcome that challenge.
- Demonstrate originality. State how, when and why the innovation was developed to demonstrate its originality within the company itself or within the broader industry. Demonstrate the process by which the program was developed and implemented, and the steps the team will take to continue addressing the challenge.
- Substantiate the solution’s impact. Provide supporting evidence to show the impact a program or initiative has made on a company, industry or consumers. If you are nominating a program that is in its infancy, emphasize its immediate value as well as its projected impact over a period of time. Be specific and thorough in your analysis by detailing what goals the team has identified, what changes they have implemented and what progress has been made in advancing a cause or overcoming a challenge. Provide figures that quantify how much time or money the innovation has saved, the value or percentage of increased revenue, the number of individuals who have benefited or other tangible results.
As you work to identify your strongest innovations, consider the following questions:
- What problem does this program or approach address?
- What result did the team or program set out to achieve?
- What approach or steps were implemented to achieve those goals?
- How do we know that the team or program was successful or is on track to be successful?
- What specific change has occurred as a result of those efforts?
Submissions of 750 words or less must assess innovations implemented after Jan. 1, 2021 and must be uploaded to FT’s submission portal by Sept. 6, 2022. Research will be conducted in September and October. Finalists and honorees will be recognized at an awards ceremony on Dec. 8, 2022, in New York City and will be featured in a special report on Dec. 9, 2022.