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Most innovative law firms 2016: Innovation in social responsibility

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Law firm
Total Innovation Score
Originality
Rationale
Impact
Description
StandoutHerbert Smith Freehills27999Established a long-term partnership with the government of Sierra Leone to provide critical legal support in negotiations with foreign investors as well as during the Ebola outbreak. The firm gave training, policy and legislative advice to build what it calls a “fair deal for Sierra Leone”. The firm recently published an investors’ guide to make Sierra Leone more attractive and tackle systemic issues. The firm’s work is providing a model for lawyers to use their skills to help developing countries. Commended: Gavin Davies.
StandoutSidley Austin27999Small and medium-sized enterprises are critical to poverty reduction and economic empowerment, but they often face unfavourable business environments and access to finance. Realising there was both a dearth of legal support for these enterprises and a lack of opportunity for the firm’s transactional lawyers to be involved in pro-bono work, the firm created a programme that now has 450 lawyers across 18 offices supporting over 100 SMEs with a social impact goal in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Commended: Scott Andersen.
StandoutLatham & Watkins25898Did research for the International Rescue Committee on the legislative landscape across Europe to provide actionable data on the legal rights of Syrian refugees. This was used to lobby the European Commission for policy change.
Highly commendedDechert23788Provided a suite of pro-bono legal services to the Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust for the development of new prosthetic limb technology.
Highly commendedDechert23887Developed a standard, replicable mechanism to align fund managers’ financial interests with the social aims of projects funded by Impact Partenaires, a French group.
Highly commendedDentons22877The first law firm to join Open Law, a public-private collaboration platform, which helps to provide free online public access to case law and legislation by developing open-source tools and harmonising national legal data sets.
Highly commendedTuca Zbarcea & Asociatii22679Provided pro-bono advice and prepared documentation to support a change to Romanian legislation so domestic protection orders could be issued within 72 hours.
Highly commendedArthur Cox21678Working with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the firm provides long-term pro-bono support to bring about legislative change for immigrants’ rights and to disseminate information to refugees on their rights to seek asylum.
Highly commendedDLA Piper and Allen & Overy21777Collaborated with the Coram Children's Legal Centre to provide co-ordinated legal representation to children who were born in the UK to immigrant parents but do not have citizenship.
Highly commendedWeil, Gotshal & Manges21777Advised the Royal London Society for Blind People in the development, piloting and roll-out of new technology Wayfindr, which enables vision-impaired people to travel safely in London and elsewhere.
CommendedAshurst20677Leveraging its new legal support service, Ashurst Advance, the firm has been able to substantially increase its pro-bono work globally.
CommendedHogan Lovells20677Working in collaboration with the Royal British Legion, the firm supports the families of soldiers killed in action who usually have no recourse to legal aid.
CommendedMorais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados20767The firm is the founding partner and central legal counsel of two platforms in Portugal to support refugees. The Global Platform for Syrian Students provides access to education and the Refugee Support Platform connects and fosters collaboration between aid organisations.
CommendedSimmons & Simmons20677Established a long-term partnership with South West London Law Centres and supported a full-time in-house welfare case worker to provide end-to-end support for welfare benefit appeals, with a focus on disability benefit cases.
CommendedSkadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom20677The firm partnered with the Legal Advice Centre (University House), a charity in Tower Hamlets, to improve the success rate of appeals in welfare benefit cases by 30 per cent above the UK norm.
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