McGuireWoods was named the most innovative firm in the business of law and ranked third overall in Financial Times’ 2018 North America Innovative Lawyers report, continuing its powerhouse showing as a top law firm for pioneering creative solutions to meet client needs.
In addition, FT recognized the firm seven times in the following categories: Strategy and Changing Behaviors; Rule of Law and Access to Justice; Collaboration; New Business and Service Delivery Models; Managing and Developing Talent; and Technology.
“Our lawyers and staff understand that innovation is essential to being trusted advisers for our clients, and they embrace the challenge of finding new and creative ways to help them meet their business needs,” said McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan Harmon. “We are grateful that Financial Times continues to recognize us as a leader in developing innovative approaches to client service.”
To compile the report, FT research partner RSG Consulting evaluated more than 500 submissions from law firms and legal services providers and conducted hundreds of interviews with clients, senior lawyers, executives and experts. This marks the third consecutive year FT has honored McGuireWoods as one of North America’s 10 most innovative law firms and the second year in a row it has ranked the firm among the top three.
McGuireWoods earned a “Standout” ranking — FT’s highest — in the Strategy and Changing Behaviors Category for its nationwide initiative to connect independent sponsors with capital providers for specific private equity deals. Dallas partners Jon Finger and David McLean and the firm’s business development team created the initiative to share deal opportunities with clients and contacts. The team hosts events, including its signature nationwide Independent Sponsor Conference each fall, to share best practices, strategies and deal leads.
“It has forced lawyers to do things we did not learn in law school . . . we have to go and meet owners of companies and see what they are looking for,” Finger told FT. “It’s a different approach to that which lawyers have traditionally taken.”
McGuireWoods also received a “Highly Commended” ranking in the Strategy and Changing Behaviors Category for its trial team roundtables, which bring together the firm’s most accomplished trial lawyers to work with clients on case strategy. In these brainstorming sessions, firm lawyers and clients collaborate on communications, managing risk and options for presenting trial evidence. FT commended partner Mark Anderson, co-leader of McGuireWoods’ national trial team, for his leadership of the initiative.
FT ranked the firm as “Highly Commended” in the Rule of Law and Access to Justice Category for its pro bono win and innovative strategy securing the largest known single-plaintiff human trafficking award in American history. A McGuireWoods team led by Washington, D.C., associate Betsy Hutson, helped trafficking survivor Kendra Ross win an $8 million judgment in a lawsuit against a Kansas City-based “regimented cult” and its leader. The judgment led the Human Trafficking Legal Center to name McGuireWoods “Litigation Firm of the Year.”
The firm received a “Commended” ranking in the Collaboration Category for teaming up with JPMorgan Chase and Sullivan & Cromwell to develop JPMC’s “Leading With Diversity” initiative. Developed, implemented and managed with the assistance of McGuireWoods partners Mary Hackett and Nellie Hestin, the initiative calls for diverse lawyers to lead at least half of JPMC’s matters handled by outside counsel by 2020.
McGuireWoods earned a “Commended” ranking for New Business and Service Delivery Models for institutionalizing a business development strategy that enables transactional lawyers to pitch for deals quickly and effectively. The firm’s business development team worked with lawyers to build a comprehensive database of clients, investors and deal targets to identify the strongest prospect when deal opportunities arise. FT noted that the strategy helped one associate build an $8.8 million business portfolio in less than four years.
The firm received a “Commended” ranking in the Managing and Developing Talent Category for building a proprietary system to track and share the availability of associates and counsel in real time. The custom system enables partners to quickly view details – such as availability for travel, billing rates and years of experience – to help inform decisions about selecting lawyers for an assignment.
The firm also earned a “Commended” ranking in the Technology Category for creating a time-saving auditing algorithm to analyze invoice or “task” codes entered into the firm’s budget management tool.