The ever-faster pace of business poses challenges for corporations — and offers opportunities for a range of legal knowhow providers to help with answers to those problems.

The Financial Times is looking to turn a spotlight on these providers, from the established players to the upstart newcomers.

For businesses of all kinds, the Covid pandemic hastened the emergence of hybrid working and triggered an overnight digitisation of consumer and company activities. Now they are taking stock of the effects on their operations, just as a period of disruptive geopolitical change is unfolding.

One effect has been to emphasise the need for speed. Competitive advantage may be hard won but easily lost. It often relies on how fast products get to market, the efficiency and smoothness of how business is done, and the experience of the users.

So, in a series of articles over the rest of the year, a new FT report will look at the demands being put on the back offices of business, and how they are responding with the help of the broadening legal ecosystem — which now includes legal tech companies, alternative legal service providers, and the Big Four professional services firms.

The Accelerating Business report will build on the FT’s extensive Innovative Lawyers programme, including the Intelligent Business and Digital Lawyers reports.

What happens next

  • The first of a series of seven articles, including informative case studies, will be published in May, with the remainder appearing at monthly intervals. The case studies will be researched by think-tank RSGI, with the support of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (Cloc), a network of experts in legal operations.

  • The articles will form the basis of various events culminating in a forum in San Francisco in November. The theme of each article will constitute a category for specific recognition with the case studies comprising the shortlist.

  • To be included in the research or considered for entry as a showcase, please contact

The themes

  • Legal, unblocked. Companies’ legal departments — often seen by the wider business and beyond as the main blockers of smooth-running operations — have been undergoing a revolution. How have they changed the way they operate? What are the returns to a company of having an insightful, agile legal function? What does an operationally smart legal function look like?

  • Collaborative adjacencies. Which corporate functions are working closely with their legal teams to push for — and deliver — transformations? How does the legal team work with other areas of the business to accelerate their efforts? The article includes a focus on how legal teams can better collaborate with procurement, supply chain, finance, and HR teams to accelerate processes and unlock value.

  • The rise and rise of legal technology. The stellar valuations of emerging legal tech companies are making both investors and the global legal industry sit up. What is the truth behind the promise? Which are offering the most useful legal tools for businesses, and what are they? And how are legal tech companies changing the business of law firms?

  • The ‘third pillar’. Beyond law firms and in-house legal teams, all four leading audit firms, alternative legal service providers (ALSPs), and the ALSP arms of big law firms are ramping up their offerings. The approaches vary, but all see particular opportunity in more operationally-focused work for big businesses. What is their value to business, and how are they delivering on their propositions?

  • Everyday business speeds up. Commercial contracting in big companies is often the cornerstone of business activity. For some businesses, value is created and lost in commercial contracts and other “business as usual” processes. How are approaches to contracting and other everyday processes changing, and how far is that enabling business to work faster?

  • Change makers. Behind the new developments are individuals driving change and creating the means by which companies can meet the demands of 21st century business and society. These individuals could be having significant impact within their organisations, or at the top of them — or showing leadership across their industry.

  • Lessons from the showcases. We will review the best entries to build a picture of the operational change in leading corporations.

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