Law firms often handle a range of issues for their business clients beyond specific legal issues. This has inspired many of the legal professionals featured here to develop new complementary services in addition to the core activities of their firms.
Others are being singled out for their efforts to encourage their businesses to embrace technology, saving them time that would normally be spent on day-to-day tasks.
Caryn Sandler has stood out for her success in both areas. The many new products and services she has developed at Australian law firm Gilbert + Tobin have enhanced her client offering and helped her lawyers embrace design thinking and technology.
WINNER: Caryn Sandler
Partner and Director of Knowledge and Innovation, Gilbert + Tobin
After starting as a professional support lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin in 2010, Caryn Sandler has become a pioneer in legal innovation, helping to expand the firm’s service offering. She led the development of new technologies, such as the company’s verification software, which was purchased by legal technology company Litera in 2020.
She has also created several income-generating teams. These include the G+T Innovate advisory team, which works with lawyers and their clients to improve technology and processes, and GTDocs, a specialist document review team, which has helped the firm cope with the increased workload during the pandemic.
Partner and Co-Head of Ashurst Advance, Ashurst
With a background in senior legal and operational roles at technology and consulting companies, Hilary Goodier joined the firm’s alternative legal services business, Ashurst Advance, as COO in 2020, before to become its co-director last year. She helped define and implement Ashurst Advance’s strategy to deliver a more holistic service. This combines offshore document review, digital firm products and services, legal operations advice, managed legal services and flexible client resources, all in one place.
Ashurst Advance is an in-firm practice group; it reports profit and revenue in the same way as traditional business practices. In 2021, group profits have doubled and the workforce has increased by 45%.
Managing Director, Aldersgate Holding Company
A former Australian managing partner of DLA Piper, Jim Holding is managing director of Aldersgate Holding Company, the company’s innovation incubator, a 100% company-owned start-up. Holding oversaw the development of several new revenue-generating products for the company, including an artificial intelligence-based tool to manage cartel risk and an asset tokenization platform called Toko.
Under his leadership, the firm is transforming the way lawyers’ innovative ideas are brought to market, while enabling DLA Piper to offer clients solutions it previously could not develop. The company claims that Aldersgate Holding Company contributes millions to DLA Piper’s revenue.
Managing Partner, RHT Law Asia
Azman Jaafar has created a niche for his business in Singapore through a commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures, as well as developing expertise in areas such as digital assets. The company is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2030 and discloses Scope 3 emissions – greenhouse gases emitted throughout its supply chains and during the use of his products. Jaafar says the decision came from the recognition that the company should follow its own guidance on ESG issues, both to build its expertise and to set an example for clients.
To advise on issues related to digital finance, such as asset tokenization, Jaafar also helped establish a separate and complementary company called AlDigi Group.
Chief Innovation Officer, King & Wood Mallesons
Michelle Mahoney leads the firm’s transformation strategy. One of his main successes was to persuade several lawyers in the firm to use new technologies in their daily work, which has always been a challenge. To encourage adoption, it introduced a “multiplier model”, in which lawyers who use the technology for their work can log six hours in-house for every four hours billed to a client. The company registers monthly increases in the multiplier time recorded.
Mahoney is responsible for the “legal tech belts” system, based on the Lean Six Sigma managerial rating technique, which certifies the competence of lawyers in legal tech. More than 75% of the firm’s lawyers in Australia and Singapore have at least one belt.
Partner, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
In 2017, after five years at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Reiya Nakano went to Columbia Law School to study for a Masters in Law. After graduating, he worked for a time at the American law firm Weil Gotshal, where he noticed how much more technology he used in his work compared to most law firms in Japan. .
Returning to Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in Japan in 2019, Nakano created a group within the company to study how to use technology more effectively and worked with legal technology companies to develop solutions. An example is Legalscape, a legal research service similar to Westlaw, owned by Reuters, but for Japan. The company provided access to some of its data and helped test the tool.
Partner, Nishimura & Asahi
Hiroshi Watanabe is keen to make the process of drafting legal documents less tedious. He is studying for his MBA at Stanford University in the United States, while being associated with the Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi, and is also the co-founder of BoostDraft – a tech start-up specializing in computer software. document editing.
BoostDraft has developed an artificial intelligence-based legal drafting tool for Japanese documents.
Adopted by Nishimura and Asahi, this automates tasks such as proofreading. It is now also used by other law firms in Japan.
Phoebe Wynn Pope
Head of Business and Human Rights, Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Phoebe Wynn-Pope joined the firm in 2019 after 25 years as a humanitarian worker. With a doctorate in human rights law but no license to practice, Wynn-Pope brought a different mindset to the firm.
She has built a business and human rights practice that draws on experts from the firm’s core practice groups. She uses training programs and thought leadership to broaden the understanding of human rights within the company. She has advised clients on how they can use the principles of human rights law as a framework for ethical decision-making.
Wynn-Pope also serves as chair of the firm’s Responsible Business Task Force and has expanded its pro bono efforts.
Profiles compiled by RSGI researchers and FT editors; “Winner” indicates that the person has won a 2022 FT Innovative Lawyers award.