The American Lawyer's Top 50 Innovators
The ideas and initiatives that changed the world of big law over the past half century, and the people behind them.
Big Law is notorious for its hidebound habits, but over the last 50 years a few dozen men and women have had an outsize impact on the profession. Our research and reporting teams spent six months looking for the people whose ideas, policies, and practices have left an indelible mark on the legal industry over the last five decades. These lawyers, academics, clients, and business executives range from the familiar (Thomas Sager and the DuPont Legal Model are to the legal industry what Derek Jeter is to the Yankees) to the obscure (Quick: Who invented the poison pill?) The innovators are a varied group. Some, such as long-serving Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's managing director Earle Yaffa, blazed a trail for other C-suite executives. Others, like Slater & Gordon managing director Andrew Grech, who led the first law firm IPO, appear to be ahead of their time. Most importantly, all of these people promoted ideas that were embraced in some form by an industry not known for its innovation. Sometimes it's not enough just to have a great idea—convincing others to adopt it is also worthy of respect.—Robin Sparkman
Robert Banks Sr.
Sir David Clementi
Ben Heineman Jr.
Sanjay Kamlani and David Perla
Hugh McLernon and John Walker
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