Australia’s leading independent law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has been recognised as a pioneer in the Asia Pacific legal market, with the firm taking out the award for innovation in Social Responsibility in the 2017 Financial Times Asia Pacific Innovative Lawyers Awards.

Corrs was also named as one of the most innovative law firms in Australia and the Asia Pacific. Corrs’ CEO, John W.H. Denton AO, was honoured as one of the top 10 most innovative individuals in the Asia Pacific region.

“At Corrs, we strive to pioneer new ways of working within the legal industry by constantly evaluating market opportunities, technological advancements and partnerships that improve efficiency, add value and enhance client experience. This requires a pioneering mind-set and the confidence to zig when others zag, something we are empowered to do as an independent client-driven firm,” said Mr Denton.

“I’m incredibly proud of everything that the firm has achieved and I’m confident that we will continue to push the boundaries to drive further advancements in the legal market,” he added.

Corrs was recognised for its innovation across a range of areas, including:

Social Responsibility – Standout 

Working with the Big Issue, the firm created a legal mechanism for the ‘Homes for Homes’ initiative to tackle the lack of social housing in Australia. Homeowners can donate a tax-deductible 0.1% of the sale price of their properties to fund social housing projects. The mechanism works within the framework of existing state laws, is nationally applicable and provides an opt-out option. It is estimated that the Homes for Homes initiative will raise $1.8bn over the next 20 years.

Corrs Lead Partner: Nathaniel Popelianski

Business of Law: Technology – Standout

Corrs developed SARA for client McDonalds to analyse and report on risks associated with new property leases and acquisitions. Using GPS it can automatically assess flood risk, potential planning restrictions and identity types of neighbours and competitors nearby. The tool can be used onsite from a smartphone and provides risk ratings and reports in a consistent format to be shared with the company board.

Corrs Lead Partner: Christine Covington

Business of Law: Strategy & Changing Behaviours – Highly Commended

In collaboration with Harvard Business School Organizational Lab, Corrs is running a field experiment to collect data under rigorous academic standards on law firm productivity. The data will contribute to industry understanding of how legal work is allocated and resourced.

Corrs Lead Partner: Robert Regan

Business of Law: New Business & Delivery Models – Highly Commended

Corrs has launched CorrsEdge, an online legal resource for start-ups that allows businesses to automate, execute and store legal documents. Legal documents and tools cover a business’s lifecycle from start-up to acquisition or sale.

Corrs Lead Partner: Jonathan Farrer

Business of Law: Technology – Commended

Corrs partnered with Elevate to develop the firm’s process for verification (verifying individual statements in public documents) into the Cael Verify software. The tool manages the traditionally manual process, assigning responsibilities, tracking progress and collating evidence in a database to cut time taken by up to 40 per cent.

Corrs Lead Partner: Andrew Lumsden

Top 10 Most Innovative Individuals in Asia Pacific – John Denton AO, CEO of Corrs 

John Denton is a law firm leader with connections in high places. He is one of the founders of the B20, the business reference group of the G20 group of leading nations. The B20 was formed after Mr Denton had put the idea to Kevin Rudd, then Australian prime minister, as a way to keep G20 members focused, and adding weight to its deliberations. He is now co-chair of the B20 task force on financing growth and infrastructure. Mr Denton’s interests stretch beyond business: he is chairman of Australia for UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. He is also part of the chairmanship of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. He has helped both organisations create a platform to formulate a private-sector response to the global refugee crisis. Mr Denton has been instrumental in making his firm one of the most innovative in Australia, bucking the trend for firms to merge or form alliances with other law firms. He is a champion of global connectivity. “We believe that our connectedness will be the source of our power and influence in this century,” he says.