Legal risk: more “new law” than “big law”?

Legal risk: more “new law” than “big law”?

By Matthew Whalley

This summer I set out to confirm the current state of legal risk management practices in-house. I suspected understanding was patchy and that in-house counsel and risk managers were struggling with the concept and the reality of quantifying and mitigating their legal risks. I designed a short survey – just seven questions about legal risk – to confirm (or disprove) my suspicions. This short blog shares one of the core conclusions from the survey responses and begins to outline what law firms can (and should) do to help their clients manage this important risk area.

First, the survey itself. I rustled up nearly 100 responses – good for a niche subject like this – from North America, Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Europe. Respondents roles included CEO, Director, General Counsel, Chief Risk Officer, Compliance Officer and In-house Counsel. As well as people from the academic community academics.

Seeing responses from Brazil, Hong Kong, South Africa and Zambia (to name a few) has brought home to me that legal risk is now a truly international issue and has an impact on a wide range of roles within the organisation, not just General Counsel.

The survey consisted of seven questions about legal risk, designed to test understanding of both the concept of “legal risks” and the organisational capability to identify manage them. Respondents were asked to agree/disagree with six statements about legal risk. And at the end of the survey to list their top legal risk priorities.

Despite my suspicions, some of the results were surprising even to me (you can download them for yourself by clicking through for the

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About the author:

Matt Whalley works for Berwin Leighton Paisner, and is setting-up their new Legal Risk Consultancy. Prior to joining BLP in 2011, Matt spent 6 years running a global legal-function transformation programme, for a large bank.

To find out more about what legal risk is, and how it can be managed effectively, read:

Legal risk: two-part definitions that identify the right risks and get the business to own them

How General Counsels can manage legal risk: Four practical techniques for a successful legal-risk framework

Managing legal risk effectively – an evolving approach

You can contact Matt by phone, e-mail or Twitter.  +44 (0) 20 3400 3587 | matthew.whalley@blplaw.com | @mattwha