FRA Partners Drew Costello and Jerry Hansen attended the 4th Annual 2019 International In-house Counsel Journal conference in New York, to hear about the latest strategies and solutions for senior in-house counsel looking to improve the efficiency of their legal department. Below are some of their key takeaways from the event.
- The structure of the compliance department has evolved from being solely made up of attorneys, to a well-rounded team incorporating attorneys, data analysts and forensic accountants.
- The panel shared a helpful mnemonic to remember when dealing with risks: “RPM”. This acronym stands for “Recognize, Prioritize and Mitigate”.
- A strong tone at the top is essential, and educating employees on “how” to carry out their duties rather than “what” duties they are expected to perform leads to a strong compliance culture throughout the organization.
- One panelist explained the effectiveness of implementing regulations into the organization’s control framework so that it is prevalent in its end-to-end processes.
- A key element for one panelist was the extensive use of data analytics in compliance including numerous dashboards that combine the data from multiple global ERP systems for analysis.
- There can be significant disparity between the aim of international arbitration as a cost effective method of dispute resolution, and the reality that at times it can be just as costly as litigation.
- In Australia, multiparty construction litigation is time consuming, document intensive and almost prohibitively expensive for all but the major players.
- Opportunities to mitigate disputes often lie in the contract drafting phase in better defining terms and even the dispute resolution process.
- Due diligence is a key element when entering into contract to raise awareness of potential risks and exposure.
- While in-house legal departments can handle many of the disputes that arise, it is often a distraction from their regular day-to-day activities, and so outside counsel are sometimes engaged to assist on matters of significance.
- The panelists also discussed using a small firm or a large firm (primarily referring to external counsel) and the comments were split on this issue. The choice was often more relationship based.
- Various pricing arrangements such as fixed fee, negotiated discounts, success fees and contingency fees are used by in-house legal departments. All of these had been used by each to some extent when engaging external counsel, but no obvious preference was highlighted.