RSG: How to? Innovation Strategy for Law Firm Leaders

RSG’s new How to? Report seeks to answer some of the universal questions that law firm leaders ask and curate some of the best ways we have seen to get over recurring challenges. The report has been designed as a slide deck so they can be sliced and diced to suit different purposes.

  1. Are law firms different from other businesses when it comes to innovation?
    We have chaired many round-tables where this question arises. There are arguments for and against. Here we analyse the obstacles to innovation in law firms and present the best approaches we see from firms who have been able to harness their lawyers’ strengths and encourage what initially appear to them to be counter intuitive behaviours.
  2. What is an innovative law firm today?
    Since 2016, Europe, in particular, has seen more change in its top law firms than it has in the last twelve years. The benchmarks of what is innovative are constantly changing. Here we analyse the most significant developments in 2017 globally and detail the challenges in different projects and how they were overcome.
    • Service delivery models: most law firms have accepted their service delivery models have to improve. However, lawyers’ take up of their firms’ alternative delivery options and capacity to see how it applies to their particular practice areas can be slow. How have the most successful firms got their lawyers to see the potential of alternative service delivery options? What are the latest iterations of these options and how are they being incorporated into mainstream legal advisory work?
    • Technology: Even in some of the most advanced law firms, becoming tech-enabled is a “minority” sport. But law firms have developed fast over the past three years. Here we illustrate the best ways we have seen law firms’ tech-enable their lawyers.  Is it worth setting up an R&D unit, for example? We unpick what it is that has allowed some firms to use technology to gain an edge on competitors, while others struggle.
    • Productising legal services: how are firms standardising elements of the legal process and packaging them up into products? Does this approach really risk commoditising an advisory legal business? What are the gains to be made? In addition, we will look at the future for law firm ‘products’ that are devised as business development tools but for which the law firms do not charge.
    • Data: how are law firms currently using their own data in the interests of the firm and their clients? Are there any firms with a clear data strategy? What steps are firms taking to build a data strategy and turn unstructured legal intelligence into valuable data?
  3. What is an innovative lawyer today?
    The role of a lawyer on a transaction or litigation matter has evolved in the past two decades and continues to evolve. RSG’s new framework as to what makes an innovative lawyer lays out the skill sets, experiences and attitudes partners need to have for the next five years and how best to get them.
  4. How do you teach lawyers to innovate?
    How are law firms and in-house teams creating innovative mindsets in their people? Many law firms are experimenting with staff engagement exercises. What are the best ways to run these initiatives and what are the likely outcomes?
  5. Understanding clients: Despite state-of-the-art client listening programmes, top law firms often complain that their partners are still not aligned enough with their clients. We share some of the unique insight we have gained from ranking hundreds of corporate law departments on their innovation and relevance to their businesses. In this section, we identify and analyse the most critical developments affecting law firm clients to make the case as to why, for partners, innovation is not just a ‘nice-to-have’, and how they can become truly client-centred.
  6. Collaboration: It is a critical driver of innovation but many law firms struggle to create internal collaborations, let alone external ones. Who should law firms be collaborating with and how? How can smart collaboration entirely alter the innovation profile of a law firm?
  7. Financial performance? Are innovative law firms more successful financially? We have correlated the financial results of the top 50 global law firms with their Financial Times innovation scores over a three-year period to answer that question.
    How to prove that innovation can give tangible benefits to clients and lawyers?

To order the report or see a taster, Contact Andrew Bowyer or Reena SenGupta at RSG Consulting: or on +44 (0) 20 7831 0300.
Pre-publication purchasers who order before the 16 April 2018 will be entitled to a 15% discount.

Underlying research and analysis:

  • Benchmarks and case studies are based on over 10,000 submissions on innovation received from law firms and legal service providers and over 11,000 research interviews conducted with leading lawyers, law firm managing partners and chairs, company general counsel, CEOs, and other legal industry clients since 2006 for the FT Innovative Lawyers programme globally.
  • Frameworks and insights are drawn from nearly 30 years analysing the legal profession, including consulting and major research assignments for law firms, corporate law departments and other professional service firms. In particular, analysis on how law firmsinnovate is compared and contrasted with academic and scholarly research into how innovation occurs in business and in science.

FT Innovative Lawyers North America 2017

The FT Innovative Lawyers Report North America 2017 has now been published, and can be accessed in full here. Thank you to all those who submitted this year.

On Monday we held the awards for this report at the Public Library in New York. It was a fantastic evening; the room felt full of energy as we brought together some of America’s finest lawyers.

This year’s report for North America comes at a time when long-established tenets of democracy – the rule of law, legal equality and political freedom – are under stress, and we consider the role of lawyers to be more crucial than ever. Consequently, we have introduced a new category on the rule of law and access to justice to cast a spotlight on the important work lawyers are doing to protect and extend the rule of law across the region and around the globe.

We have also dramatically increased our coverage of in-house legal teams to match private practice. The report provides a comparison of how in-house and private practice lawyers are innovating, as well as how lawyers are collaborating in new and exciting ways.

Our sincere congratulations to the winners, and all those who received a ranking this year. With over 530 submissions (an increase of almost 50% on 2016), competition was tougher than ever and it’s encouraging to see so many firms and in-house teams committed to driving change in the legal sphere.

We hope the report continues to be a platform to showcase innovation in the legal sector and look forward to some outstanding submissions in 2018.

Our submissions will open for the FT Innovative Lawyers Asia Pacific 2018 tomorrow and can be accessed here. The submissions deadline for this report is 27th January 2018 and, following exciting and successful coverage of the rule of law in Europe and North America, we will be extending this category to Innovative Lawyers Asia Pacific 2018, and inviting submissions in “the rule of law and access to justice” to highlight the critical lawyers are playing in society.

We will also be expanding our coverage of the Australian legal market to introduce a separate chapter covering Australia in the Asia Pacific report together with a full day summit in Sydney on 5th June after which we will present three distinct awards for work undertaken within the Australian legal market.

Another key date for your diaries is our annual global summit which we will once again be holding in London in June. Further information will be released in due course but if you would like to register your interest, do get in touch.

Other new additions to Innovative Lawyers will include a new report, “Tomorrow’s Law”, covering legal tech, alternative legal services providers and other active disruptors of the legal industry.

For further information on any of the reports or events mentioned above please contact us.

The Lawyer-Client Disconnect

For the legal expertise sections of the FT Innovative Lawyers reports, RSG Consulting interviews hundreds of lawyers each year about the the most complex, successful, and high profile deals and cases they have worked on during their careers. We also speak to their clients about their experiences during what are often bet-the-company, and sometimes save-the-company moments of transformation.

The nature of these deals means there is usually agreement that the lawyers played an important and highly valuable role. But there is surprisingly little agreement on just where or how they delivered the most value. This disconnect between lawyers and their clients exists in every region and segment of the market we examine, although the patterns vary between them.

We have mapped the 20 areas most frequently named by clients, ranging from their lawyers’ creativity, proactivity, understanding of the industry to project management, communication skills, or ability to persuade key stakeholders.

Against this we compare where the lawyers believe they made the most important contribution. While the lawyers often have a different view to their clients, there is a great deal of commonality between them. Lawyers frequently focus on the legal solutions they create. On the other hand, clients are far more likely to value the lawyers’ broader skills and comment on how the legal service or advice was delivered. For example, the way lawyers communicate with their clients – how frequently and proactively, how concise they are, how able they are to speak in the language of the business – is highly prized by clients, yet barely mentioned by the lawyers themselves.

We chart the disconnect across all 20 areas of service and delivery in our What Next? Innovation Strategy for Law Firms report which draws together our analysis and benchmarks of innovation in the legal sector. The report will be published in the weeks following the publication of the FT Innovative Lawyers Report for Europe, out with the FT on the 5th of October. For more information, or to be added to our mailing list for updates when the report is launched, please email us at

Diversity – What Next?

Is there a link between innovation and diversity?

Over the past ten years, diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become important across the legal sector. Though strides have been made with respect to D&I, many not the rate of progress is slowing.

As a result, many have asked us at RSG: What next for diversity and inclusion?

We see that clients have played an important role in driving the diversity agenda forward within the legal sector. An important part of the business case for diversity in law firms is to field teams who reflect the apparently more diverse workforce of in-house legal teams. Anecdotally, we have also seen that more diverse legal teams at the client tend to be more innovative.
However, whilst law firms are relatively transparent with respect to D&I, we know little about actual diversity of the client.

Better knowledge about the composition of client legal teams will help us build a better business case for diversity across the legal profession. It will provide an opportunity of clients and their advisers to talk about diversity more collaboratively. This may include discussion on the shared barriers to progress, but also how to jointly facilitate more rapid and substantive change.

This study has emerged from the work RSG Consulting does on the FT Innovative Lawyers programme. We are seeking to explore some of our anecdotal observations from our research on the relationship between diversity and innovation. However, we would also like to gather hard data on client-side diversity to stimulate new debates around D&I within the legal sector and effect further change.

What is the perceived relationship between diversity and innovation within these in-house legal teams? In other words, how do members of the in-house legal department understand the relationship, if any, between diversity and innovation? Do in-house legal teams believe that diversity impacts upon innovative and successful decision making and if so, how and why? What do they feel is important to an innovative outcome? How do participants perceive the way in which they work and what contributes to optimum working patterns?