Corporate Counsel Forum 2015: key issues for in-house legal

LexisNexis was proud to be a sponsor of Legal Week’s Corporate Counsel Forum 2015 held in September. The two-day event – From Baseline to Brilliance – covered a range of engaging topics relevant to general counsel. The theme focused on how lawyers can demonstrate brilliance over and above the baseline now expected of them in the in-house legal environment.

Hear from leading GC's comment on how important is it to build an ethical and compliant culture.

The programme attracted legal leaders from the industry, and included sessions ranging from the art of project management, becoming a strategic business leader and effective planning for data breaches, through to imagining the legal department in 2020.

Here is our selection of key tips and takeaways from the event:

Data security

A powerful way of getting training out is to send a fake phishing e-mail to all staff which takes them through to data security training if they fall for it. 40-60% of employees will fall for it the first time. Repeated a year later, only 20-30% are likely to fall for it.

Most breaches occur by accident. Conduct a thorough risk analysis taking into account three things: people, processes and technology.

If using cloud computing, have a conversation with the regulators around how risk is profiled. This means extra work but will pay dividends with regard to both operational and regulatory risk.

Reputation management

The advent of social media has made this much more challenging. If social media isn’t being monitored, the business won’t hear about potential issues quickly enough and will lose valuable response time. Don’t be caught out.

Enhancing the legal team’s performance

In-house lawyers need to be business people as well as lawyers. Legal isn’t in a silo; it needs to be aligned with the business:

  • Ensure the legal team have an understanding of how the business works, its strategies and goals and its appetite for risk.
  • Arrange trips to sites within the business to develop an interest in commercial areas.
  • Consider management training/MBA – this is a challenge but will help drive the commercial development of the team.
  • Sit the legal team alongside their respective practice area business units, for example employment lawyers with the HR team.
  • Encourage lawyers to ‘own the spend’ and make them a team of business people rather than a mini law firm.
  • Speak to colleagues in the business about their experience of the legal team. Feed that information back into the legal process to streamline it and ensure it meets business needs.

Demonstrating value

Reporting management information is an important process for GCs. To present the right information, GCs need to speak to internal stakeholders and canvass what is necessary from across the business. If the report is set out and standardised in the right way, it is an excellent tool for demonstrating the value of the legal team and the work they contribute to the business.

Consider the purpose of the legal team. Often lawyers get passed work because it is convenient rather than because it is their job to do it. This should be addressed to ensure the team isn’t overburdened with the wrong type of work. Focusing the role will also allow the team to see the value their work brings to the business.

Reviewing and mapping processes can help legal focus their time and skills appropriately:

  • Pass control back to the business for work that legal don’t need to own.
  • Use document automation to shorten unnecessarily lengthy processes.
  • Enable the business to self-serve documents.

The future of in-house legal

Although there has been a large increase in the number of lawyers working in-house, it is predicted that this number will eventually reduce as technology becomes adopted and work is north shored. This will leave in-house lawyers with only a very high tier of issues to manage.

In-house teams will increasingly free up their time to handle more valuable and strategic work. Investment in training will empower the business to self-serve documents and use document automation without risk exposure.

An increasing reliance upon technology will see more legal teams using e-billing and matter management tools. This will include functions such as monitoring anyone removing internal data without authorisation to control the risk of data protection breaches.

Lawyers are paving the way for artificial intelligence (AI) by capturing the necessary data now. When AI comes to fruition they will be able to get ahead of the competition and move quickly.


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