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ComplianceMay 11, 2022

5 ways to tackle corporate legal counsel’s top concerns

The ACC Chief Legal Officers 2022 Survey provides an intriguing look into the mindset of corporate legal counsel across the globe and serves as a strong indicator of what will be their focus areas.

Leading the list of challenges that legal counsel professionals face is the rise in corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and spin-offs.

Regulatory uncertainty and the emergence of complex global challenges are also keeping corporate counsel on their toes. Sixty percent of respondents expect a regulatory enforcement increase related to privacy in 2022. Two-thirds expect the regulatory environment will require their organizations to improve compliance efforts, and accordingly, most CLOs believe compliance-related expenses will increase to some extent in 2022.

Budgetary constraints are a perennial concern. Departments are looking to optimize outside spend and overall department efficiency, without sacrificing the quality of work produced.

Another challenge is finding a way to adequately handle the increasing complexity of a multitude of issues, which can overwhelm some departments. Although counsel is aware of the perceived enormity of matters such as privacy, data security, litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory enforcement, they are most likely ill-equipped to provide each item the attention it deserves.

In this article, we discuss five tactics that corporate legal counsel teams can use to address these concerns.

1. Leverage technology to improve law department efficiency

Improving in-house efficiency through technology remains a priority for legal departments. According to the ACC survey, 55% of chief legal officers are either planning on adopting new technology solutions in the legal department or have just recently added new technologies to improve efficiencies and streamline processes.

Leveraging technology allows departments to handle an increase in workload and keeps budgets under control. Project management software can be an effective tool for streamlining legal activities. One such example is a centralized entity management platform, which allows for efficient collaboration and communication among department members while preventing oversight of compliance responsibilities.

2. Control costs via strategic outsourcing

For legal departments, the ability to shave costs and handle high-volume transactional processes like corporate filings, contract management, or compliance-related processes, are strong reasons for turning to an alternative legal service provider (ALSP).

Outsourcing allows organizations to focus on their core business. It also provides immediate access to expertise, making it an ideal option for filling in the gaps for high-volume seasonal work.

Of those surveyed by ACC, one in four legal counsel professionals anticipates outsourcing more legal work to ALSPs.

3. Focus on legal operations

Driven by an increase in workload and responsibility, the survey also suggests that chief legal officers are planning to invest in legal operations skillsets to improve costs and efficiencies.

According to the ACC survey, six in ten legal departments have at least one dedicated legal operations professional. At least 50% of legal departments across all company sizes have one or more legal operations professionals, and 75% of companies with $3 billion or more in annual revenue have dedicated legal operations staff.

In addition, 70% of chief legal officers listed legal operations as the area of focus for their department’s top strategic initiative.

Collaboration among law firms, third-party providers, and in-house attorneys is necessary to create standards, drive efficiencies, solidify best practices, and keep a focus on the more complex areas where legal counsel can add value to their companies.

4. Mitigate cybersecurity and data privacy risks

A rise in cyberattacks, an expanding digital footprint, and privacy regulations in the U.S, UK, China, EU, and other jurisdictions are forcing companies to step up their risk mitigation and compliance efforts.

Organizations must develop robust security policies and practices to prevent cybersecurity incidents, including data breaches. These policies and practices can also help reduce the risk of regulatory non-compliance and litigation by customers and employees. Maintaining a healthy cybersecurity posture also protects the company from reputational damage.

Furthermore, the organization should recognize that cybersecurity is not a problem only the security team should address. Legal counsel must collaborate with chief information security officers to understand cyber risk, help formulate security policy, and provide legal guidance.

5. Seek out training and updates on regulatory change

One of the biggest legal challenges that chief legal officers will face this year is industry-specific regulations. 66% of those surveyed cited this as top of mind.

Law departments can strive to improve governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) capabilities by following best practices outlined in the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) GRC Capability Model. The GRC Capability Model is the first open-source standard that integrates the various sub-disciplines of governance, risk, audit, compliance, ethics/culture, and IT into a unified approach. It can be used to address a range of situations from small projects to organization-wide rollouts, as well as a variety of subject areas from anti-corruption, business continuity, and third-party management.

The model’s four components are as follows:

  • Learn: Understand the company’s core objectives, the culture, and the identity of key stakeholders to make informed decisions and recommendations.
  • Align: Make sure that strategy is aligned with department and company objectives and influences the subsequent course of action.
  • Perform: Perform and support beneficial actions, address and prevent actions or systems that are harmful or disruptive, and be quick to evaluate a developing event or situation so that legal counsel can take appropriate measures.
  • Review: Periodically assess objectives, strategies, and actions to make sure they are efficiently working and still aligned to the goals and objectives of the company.

Agility promotes efficiency

Agility is the name of the game for corporate legal counsel teams as they endeavor to do more with less. Leveraging technology, taking advantage of ALSPs, and implementing other positive measures are just some of the ways in which legal departments can improve performance and demonstrate value while staying on top of regulatory change and compliance obligations.

Learn more
Working with a trusted advisor provides efficiencies that help save your organization time and money. To learn more about how CT Corporation can help you better manage your compliance needs, contact a CT representative at 855-316-8948 and learn about our legal solutions services.

Cristina Faherty
Account Executive
Cristina is an Account Executive at CT Corporation, partnering with legal and financial professionals in large corporations to create custom compliance management strategies.
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