We are pleased to announce a new award in the FT Innovative Lawyers programme.

The Collaborative Innovation Award, the programme’s first global award, is designed to encourage industry-wide innovation and collaboration in legal services. Unlike the other FT Innovative Lawyers awards, which recognise retrospective innovations, the new award will focus on good ideas in their first stages of implementation.

Industry-wide challenges such as how to achieve simplicity, accessibility and speed in legal services require multidisciplinary teams and co-creation between suppliers and consumers. The new award requires law firms, corporate legal departments, law companies and technology firms to come together to design and develop tech-enabled solutions to systemic problems.

We are looking to foster information exchange and “recombinant innovation”. In the 1970s, innovation boomed in Silicon Valley because of the horizontal social connections between different tech entrepreneurs. The more an idea could be shared socially, the more likely it was to work. The Homebrew Computer Club, for example, is famous for introducing Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, co-founders of Apple to each other.

The legal industry is known as a particularly vertical sector characterised by organisational silos. The FT Collaborative Innovation Award will provide a forum where participants can make horizontal connections. It is a place for individuals or organisations with industry-changing ideas to come together to develop implementable plans, prototypes and minimum viable products.

As important as the idea is the way that people work together. Points in the awards will be given to broad sets of collaborators that can show: how they have harnessed cognitive diversity; design thinking that puts the consumer of legal services first; and digital technologies to deliver potentially industry-wide impact.

The FTIL Collaborative Innovation Award is designed to break down boundaries between:

— Organisations (competitors and peers)— Different organisations in the legal industry— Different skill sets and experiences— Different jurisdictions

The awards process will run in two stages, coinciding with the current Innovative Lawyers calendar for 2021. Organisations and individuals can submit collaborative ideas with detailed implementation plans to heats, which run at five different points during the year. They are then encouraged to turn them into prototypes and minimum viable products to enter for dedicated online awards in early 2022.

Asia-Pacific — May 13, 2021. Deadline for entries: April 16, 2021.Global Summit — June 15-18, 2021. Deadline for entries: May 15, 2021.FTIB Forum — September 16, 2021. Deadline for entries: June 20, 2021.FTIL Europe — October 14, 2021. Deadline for entries: September 14, 2021.FTIL North America — December 9, 2021. Deadline for entries: November 1, 2021.Collaborative Innovation Awards: early 2022.

Ideas can cover any of the following but should focus on solutions to systemic problems that cut across legal practice areas or specific business challenges such as accessibility, simplicity or speed:

Entries will be given points on the following criteria: