5 ways legal departments can protect and prepare their organisations to thrive in the ‘new normal’

5 ways legal departments can protect and prepare their organisations to thrive in the ‘new normal’

As the pace of legal change slows, many organisations are now turning their attention to preparing for returning to a ‘new normal’ – bringing both challenges and opportunities for legal departments.

On the one hand there is managing the day to day practicalities. From what to consider as you bring employees out of furlough and people start returning to offices to renegotiation of agreements with suppliers.

On the other hand, there is the job of reassessment. From reviewing existing policies and contracts to mitigate potential future risks to understanding the change in your organisation’s appetite for risk and the resultant implications.

Yet, despite the busyness of crisis management while keeping business as usual operating - there is also finding good from bad. Identifying and harnessing opportunities for both your organisation and your legal department that can arise from this pandemic.

In a recent poll conducted with senior in-house counsel during our weekly COVID-19 discussion forums hosted in partnership with Radius Law and F-Lex, in-house counsel identified amongst others: increased business involvement, streamlining processes, acquisitions and renegotiation of contracts.

Supporting your business survive – and thrive

Key to effectively dealing with the challenges faced and exploiting new opportunities is ensuring that, as the legal department you can support the necessary business decisions to ensure business survival. To this end we have outlined five priorities at this time for in-house counsel.

These are based on an extract from our In-house Pandemic Risk Management Guide within our LexisPSL In-house Risk and Compliance module. This includes more in-depth guidance on each point, mini action lists for each priority area, guidance on how to record your level of compliance against in each instance and provides precedents for implementation.

 

  1. Business decision-making and leadership

Business decisions, whether of a strategic nature or on day-to-day matters are likely to need to be taken quickly during the period of a pandemic’s lifespan. Ensuring that your organisation continues to have an effective decision-making and leadership process will be key to its survival. Some key action points to consider:

 

2. Understanding what your customers need and how your organisation can fulfil those needs

During the course of a pandemic, your organisation may not be in a position to continue to offer the full range of its products or services, despite the requirements of your customer or client base.

Contract changes may need to be made because of supply of raw materials or distribution issues or these may result in your organisation being unable to fulfil its orders to some customers.

Additionally, your organisation’s requirements for certain raw materials may be reduced or even cease. Some key action points to consider:

  • Evaluate your organisation’s contractual risks and obligations in the light of a whole or partial inability or unwillingness to supply goods/services to customers/clients
    See Pandemic management—contract review checklist
  • Ensure any market research regarding ongoing or future opportunities, new products etc are adequately protected by confidentiality and intellectual property (IP) rights.
    See Precedent: Confidentiality clause and range of IP clauses in subtopic: IP clauses
  • Ensure all legal and regulatory requirements are met to enable your organisation to continue to supply its goods/services and that all associated contractual provisions, terms and conditions etc are reviewed
    See Pandemic management—contract review checklist

 

3. Securing your supply chain

You need to work with your organisations procurement and operations managers to evaluate supply chain risk and mitigate that risk where possible, including establishing processes to main your organisation’s legal rights, reporting to the board on supply chain risk and mitigation proposals and considering the impact on your organisation’s financial position. Some key action points to consider:

  • Mitigate supply chain risk where possible. See Pandemic management—contract review checklist
  • Establish processes to main your organisation’s legal rights
  • Work with your organisation’s procurement and operations managers to evaluate supply chain risk

 

4. Supporting your organisation’s key resource-its staff

For your organisation to survive the pandemic, it will need to consider the practical implications of any restrictions requiring staff to stay at home and/or for social distancing. Careful planning is required, along with trust, good communications and people management. This applies to all staff, including the legal department. Some key action points to consider:

 

5. Enabling your organisation’s future

As legal adviser, you need to think about what will happen when your industry/sector/the country/world emerges from the grips of the pandemic. How can you help to ensure that your organisation thrives in the new world? Some key action points to consider:

  • Establish whether your organisation has written contract with its key suppliers and, if so, whether they are sufficiently flexible to allow for future developments
  • Consider whether your organisation’s contracts with customers/clients allow your organisation to support them as their own businesses evolve

 

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About the author:

Louisa leads marketing for the in-house legal community at LexisNexis. She joined the dedicated in-house team at LexisNexis four years ago and has a passion for driving and facilitating initiatives which are customer-focused at their heart. Her vision is to support in-house counsel succeed in their fast-evolving role based on deep insight, data analysis and best practice gathered across the in-house community.

Prior to her in-house focused role, Louisa led the marketing for the bar and mid-market private practice sectors as well as product marketing lead for LexisPSL - LexisNexis' cloud based, practical guidance and legal research software solution.

She brings 20 years' marketing experience both client and agency side, specialising in B2B marketing in the Legal, TMT (Telco, Media and Technology) and Financial Services industries. In both South Africa, Europe and the UK.

Louisa is also an active member on the LexisNexis Gender Equality Matters (GEM) steering committee and is involved with the Families at LexisNexis Group which brings together, supports and lobbies for change those with an interest in balancing the challenges of work and family.