Gowling WLG shortlisted for two awards at 2019 Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards

11 December 2019

Gowling WLG had an impressive showing at this year's Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards.

The firm was shortlisted for two awards based on initiatives involving employee mental health strategizing and streamlining the case management of a significant volume of electronic medical-legal files.

The awards were presented December 9 in New York City at Gotham Hall, where lawyers Robert Sheahan and Julie Wilson were on hand to represent the firm.

Gowling WLG was shortlisted in the following categories:

  • Innovation in the Business of Law: Talent, Strategy & Changing Behaviours
  • Innovation in the Business of Law: Technology & Data

For the Talent, Strategy and & Changing Behaviours category, the firm submitted its Our People First: Mental Health Strategy. With a strong emphasis on awareness, resilience and empowerment, the firm-wide strategy focuses on training and education, the development of coping skills and fostering a culture of well-being in the workplace.

Ensuring everyone has access to adequate mental health treatment was critical to the success of the strategy. To that end, the maximum coverage for psychological benefits through the firm's insurance plan was more than doubled and the range of qualifying counselling services expanded.

Mental health first aid (MHFA) training is another key component of the strategy. Similar to the physical first aid administered to an injured person before medical treatment arrives, MHFA is given by someone who can intervene immediately until the crisis is resolved or until appropriate professional treatment is delivered. A number of senior firm leaders and managers received training on how to recognize and support people who are dealing with mental health challenges.

Our People First: Mental Health Strategy also led to the launch of the Gowling WLG Commits campaign, which coincided with the firm's annual observance of Bell Let's Talk Day in January. The initiative outlined seven firm-wide commitments related to mental health and led to the engagement of hundreds of personnel, the sharing of numerous personal statements - and the de-stigmatizing of mental health concerns.

In the Technology & Data category, the firm submitted an intuitive piece of tech designed by Gowling WLG to help streamline existing electronic platforms designed to deliver legal services for longtime client the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA).

As general counsel for the CMPA, Gowling WLG manages hundreds of legal professionals across more than 20 litigation firms- representing CMPA members on medical legal files across the country. There was a growing need to consolidate platforms designed over time to manage information and cases in an effort to increase efficiency.

"We replaced administratively-heavy and somewhat crowded interfaces with one sleek design that masks technological complexity and eliminates clutter and distractions," noted the submission. "[The technology provides] unified and efficient online access to all resources, files, matter management, and rich data from anywhere at any time."

Via improved analytics, it can quickly access rich data and assess an infinite combination of factors to predict outcomes and disseminate informed advice. This consolidated view of thousands of files ultimately reveals trends, enabling users to adeptly advise on and implement CMPA strategy.

The shortlistings are the latest in a string of recent successes for Gowling WLG at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards.

Last year, Gowling WLG won for the LendR program. Developed by an in-house team at the firm, the LendR portfolio management system is a proprietary software that delivers a range of streamlined lending services to the firm's financial services clients.

SmartRaise, the firm's streamlined private placements tool, was shortlisted in 2017; and Practical LPM, the firm's novel approach to legal project management, was recognized in 2016.

Consistently ranked as one of the most innovative legal businesses worldwide, Gowling WLG is a firm at the cutting edge of the legal sector, with innovation at its heart. Whether adopting AI-led solutions, utilizing blockchain and smart contracts or revolutionizing recruitment strategies, the firm challenges the status quo of an industry in transition.