Addleshaw Goddard has been ranked the 5th most innovative law firm in Europe by the Financial Times in the 2021 Innovative Lawyers Report.

The firm was also singled out for special recognition in the categories of:

  • Diversity and Inclusion: the 50:50 Equality Project 
  • Digital Law: for the design and delivery of a web-based platform that has revolutionised the due diligence process
  • Sustainability & ESG: the creation of a completely new regulatory framework and a first-of-its-kind commercial structure to ensure 2.2 million people in West Sussex and Hampshire, and 3 million in Manchester, will have clean drinking water.

The FT Innovative Lawyers Report is researched by RSGi and is now in its 15th year. The 2021 Report highlights the firms and in-house teams who are digitally advanced and using innovative approaches to deliver exceptional value to business and society. Submissions are independently researched and scored for originality, leadership and impact. They are then benchmarked against each other to arrive at the final rankings and shortlists. Addleshaw Goddard has a long history in the Awards, and was ranked #1 in the very first Innovative Lawyers Report.

John Joyce, Addleshaw Goddard Managing Partner, said:  

"AG is committed to always finding the smartest ways to deliver the biggest impact for our clients, colleagues and communities around the world and we are very proud to have been singled out for our pioneering work in the utilities sector, how we have transformed the due diligence process and also for our work on gender equality. To be amongst the most innovative law firm in Europe is also testament to the quality and imagination across Addleshaw Goddard and I congratulate everyone in our business on this great achievement."

The 50:50 Equality Project

AG joined the BBC's 50:50 Equality Project in October 2020, making us the first law firm to do so. In operation since 2016, it is the biggest collective action on increasing representation in BBC content to date. Its primary objective is to create cultural change, ensuring that there is a diversity of voice in all content that is produced.

The Firm's Communications Team started to count every male and female voice put forward for media opportunities, press releases and awards submissions. We continue to keep count, using the data to help AG have an equal representation of male and female commentators, and share our analysis with the BBC Equality team monthly, as well as internally. Measurement is now expanding beyond media into areas such as business development and internal communications.

Due Diligence Platform

A new due diligence tool reinvents the way we conduct legal due diligence for Corporate transactions. We created a web-based platform to provide every lawyer involved with the DD a central location to input, record, collaborate and edit their due diligence findings, all in real time. Once the findings have been recorded, any lawyer can preview and edit the report in a user-friendly web viewer and generate an automatically-formatted, client-ready, PDF copy at the click of a button. The platform has revolutionised the process, creating efficiency savings whilst encouraging collaboration and transparency. 

A completely new regulatory framework and commercial structure for the utilities sector

Neighbouring Portsmouth and Southern Water face very different challenges. Portsmouth has a good supply for the area; Southern doesn't. Portsmouth has capacity to supply Southern, but they are competitors. 

We created an entirely-new, complex structure and regulatory framework enabling Portsmouth to build a reservoir (Havant Thicket) on its land but sell the water to Southern. We devised an 80-year agreement, with Portsmouth supplying 21m litres a day to Southern to guard against droughts – an arrangement only made possible by the Reservoir. The structure had to deliver value for customers, fit within existing regulatory structures and be acceptable to both companies' shareholders. This required significant creativity; it has simply never been done before.

Concurrently, AG drafted the first ever Direct Procurement for Customers contracts for United Utilities and Anglian Water. DPC was the centrepiece of Ofwat's latest price review, designed to stimulate competition. We advised on substantial amendments to water companies' licences to accommodate DPC, plus created the first DPC contract, which is likely to become the template for other DPC deals comprising £billions of investment into UK water infrastructure.

The combined value of both deals is well over £1bn, and open the way for similar deals to be done not just in the water sector but in other sectors (including energy) where similar challenges are faced.