The Financial Times has ranked McGuireWoods among the top 10 law firms in its prestigious North America Innovative Lawyers report for 2016. The firm earned honors in the categories of social responsibility; changing and influencing regulation; data, analytics and intelligence; and integrated solutions. FT recognized the legal innovators in a special report published Dec. 6.
McGuireWoods was one of only five firms to make shortlists in four different categories, a performance that propelled the firm to an overall top 10 ranking on the FT 25 North America list.
“Our clients rely on us to find innovative and efficient approaches to help them achieve their business goals, and these rankings reflect the efforts our lawyers and staff make every day to deliver new and better ways to do just that,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen. “We’re proud that the Financial Times has recognized our firm’s commitment to innovation.”
To compile the report, FT’s research partner, RSG Consulting, evaluated submissions and conducted nearly 400 interviews with legal experts and senior corporate executives to select the recognized firms and lawyers.
The firm earned a “standout” rating — FT’s highest — in the “Innovation in Social Responsibility: Projects” category. The firm partnered with Capital One, the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation and the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to create JusticeServer, a case management and referral tool that provides private-practice lawyers with direct electronic access to pro bono case files from legal aid organizations. The system has expedited the handling of more than 20,000 cases involving more than 50,000 clients. Scott Oostdyk, McGuireWoods’ lead pro bono partner, past president of the GRBF and chair of the Virginia Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, initiated the idea of creating an online portal system to make case files more accessible to volunteer lawyers in private practice.
The firm received a “highly commended” rating in the category of “changing and influencing regulation” for joining forces with the distinguished Aspen Institute on its sweeping “Future of Work” initiative. A team of McGuireWoods tax, labor and corporate lawyers and McGuireWoods Consulting professionals collaborated with the institute to draft a comprehensive report on modernizing federal laws to match the realities of today’s “gig economy.” The report could serve as a blueprint for congressional tax reform efforts in 2017.
The McGuireWoods team was led by partner Russell Sullivan, a former staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, who explained the project’s significance in an FT story on the role innovative lawyers will play during President-elect Donald Trump’s term in the White House.
“Most people have decided that one of the driving factors in the US election campaign was that Washington was not doing enough to help middle class workers get better jobs and opportunities for advancement,” Sullivan said. “We can’t continue to try to conform to an employer-employee relationship based on a model designed for the 1970s.”
McGuireWoods also was highly commended in FT’s “data, analytics & intelligence” category for its work developing custom data tracking and analysis applications for clients. Firm lawyers and the IT staff teamed up to produce a case management application, a tool to identify inconsistencies in employment data, and a retail sales monitoring application that allows a client to instantly spot suspicious sales trends. These custom applications have helped lawyers manage matters more efficiently and develop winning strategies for their clients.
In the “integrated solutions” category, the firm was highly commended for developing a fixed-fee service for wealth management and financial services clients to reduce risk, control costs and provide budget certainty. This service, led by partner Brian Pumphrey, includes a pre-litigation team that helps banks and fiduciaries resolve disputes before they escalate into costly litigation, and a legal process team that manages high-risk, third-party matters to keep financial institutions from becoming targets of litigation.
The report marks the second time this year that the Financial Times has recognized McGuireWoods for legal innovation. In October, the firm was noted in FT’s European Innovative Lawyer Report for playing a major role in establishing Green Lane, a first-of-its-kind, one-stop solution for trade law services. McGuireWoods was honored in the “Innovation in New Models” category for its contributions to the Green Lane network.