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Financial Times Innovative Lawyer 2014

The US edition has not yet been published, but the EU edition of the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer is out. This 9th edition is certainly another interesting read. However, it also makes you wonder. Are these truly the most innovative solutions legal firms have been able to come up with in the past year? Can more be done?

Tip of the icebergFT in-house legal teams 2014

The innovations presented in the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer special issue, represent only a small fraction of all law firms in Europe. Only 188 firms participated, mostly large firms.

Interestingly, most of the examples seem to be related to business law. There must be innovations in other areas as well.

Very interesting were the innovations of in-house counsels. They seem to be have the edge when it comes to driving legal innovation. An excerpt of the listing of the winners in that area are shown; for the full listing go here.

Opportunities for legal innovation seem to abound. Why do innovators put forward mostly incremental changes? Where are the more radical legal innovations taking place?

Ask users for input?

A great source of innovative ideas are users. What are their problems and challenges, that are not being addressed today? According to Ford, asking clients is not useful, since clients will be asking for faster horses… That, however, does not imply you don’t need to listen to your clients. A request for faster horses implies that the current horses are too slow. It is up to your firm to invent a solution to that problem, which does not necessarily need to be a faster horse. Something that is superior and does a better job of getting where you want to go, will do!

It will be very interesting to know what:

  • Entrepreneurs and high tech firms have to say about their experience with patent law and obtaining legal advice on intellectual property issues
  • Criminals and police would like changes in the criminal law system to facilitate trials
  • Ordinary people encounter their first legal experience when getting married, divorced, or buying a houseLaw Innovation

Type of innovations

The solutions users provide may not be that interesting. However, they will be a great indication of where improvements would be welcome or needed. Some may propose changes that law firms can easily act upon. Others may ask for system-wide changes, or changes in federal and state laws. Those may be more difficult to tackle for law firms, yet not impossible.

Driving system change?

The winning innovative lawyer, Joanne Wheeler, has helped define law in outer space. The sky is the limit!

Her work presented in the latest Financial Times Innovative Lawyer edition is a great example of a legal innovation, one that entails a system-wide change. There must be many more opportunities for such impactful changes. But who will be driving these types of innovations?


Interested in learning how law firms or a government agency can become a catalyst for legal innovation? Please contact us at: info”at”organizing4innovation”dot” com, or visit our webpage for more information:



Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Edition 2014

On the methodology