Tonight I had the pleasure of participating in the Financial Times North American Innovative Lawyers Award, which were “live” online tonight, December 10, 2020.  Kudos to hosts Reena Sengupta, Managing Director of RSG Consulting, and Robert Grange and Robert Armstrong of the Financial Times, for running a flawless event.  The silver lining for not being together in New  York participating in the gala event was that we, the in house law departments and outside firms on the short list for awards, could invite our full corps.  In my case, I had the pleasure of inviting many colleagues, including the associates who worked throughout the past nine months to ensure we maintained fluid, seamless connectivity with our clients as they and we worked together to surmount the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most significantly, the event tonight captured the transformative power of the legal sector this year.  We were fighting a common enemy – one that was stealthy, invasive, and shockingly powerful.  In the face of it, we marshalled all of our capabilities and ingenuity to develop novel, practical inventions that transformed the workplace and protected our communities.  In my area, global mobility & migration, we saw a wave of lockdowns and restrictions leave employees and their family members stranded in various locations, and had to develop a one-stop, accessible means to facilitate continuity of services in quarantine; both our COVID-19 Global Travel Navigator and guides to remote work were created as part of our response plan.

Tonight, I am cognizant of how much our full community – including all of our lawyers and staff, our peer firms, and the talented leaders in law departments across sectors, have done together, as a true community.  In a crisis, we’ve focused on working together to achieve progress.  We’ve shared the experience of going digital together, and we’ve made the most of it, connecting more closely than ever by means we had not previously embraced.  And in the midst of this, we changed the game – we espoused inclusiveness and diversity with renewed passion and commitment, we were aggressive in finding new means to facilitate communications and engagement, we became intolerant of limitations in access to data and know how and fueled multi-channel platforms for day-to-day activities.  In sum, we recognized that the time is now to build a more resilient future together.

I congratulate the firms I was privileged to share the dais with tonight, including White & Case, which placed as North America’s Innovative Firm of the Year.  And I applaud of all of the award nominees for their contributions.  As a new year approaches, I feel confident that together we can and will navigate the next stages of evolution that this crisis has stimulated.