The recent “General Counsel Excellence Report” published by The Global Legal Post has reconfirmed some findings we have been seeing in the corporate legal field for the past couple of years. Two findings stand out from the report; the first is that the top issue for general counsel, especially in large global firms, remains the risk of regulations and the changing regulatory landscape, cited by nearly 60% of respondents (59.6%) as their top issue over the next 18 months. This top issue nearly doubles in frequency the next item of concern, which was to create value for the corporation (at 34.6%). The second related finding is that compliance risks were tied as the highest risk faced by these GCs (29.8% versus 30.8% for macroeconomic risks). These findings are consistent with two hypotheses that Mitratech is seeing validated by our clients as they tackle these thorny challenges.
The first hypothesis is that GCs are trying to, but have not yet, fully rationalized their roles in the compliance framework of their large and complex organizations. According to our primary research , GCs continue to have a primary role in many of the key functions involved in a corporate compliance program, even as the responsibility for that program continues to shift to a more independent role in the company (e.g. CCO). For the clients that we have worked with, there continues to be tension and flux around precisely which team is accountable for which aspects of the framework, and what automation tools can and should be used to accomplish and streamline these functions.
The second hypothesis is that reducing regulatory risk and creating value for the organization are not mutually exclusive, and can, in fact, be accomplished simultaneously. As our clients address the first hypothesis and better align their GC compliance role with the overall framework of their organization, they are rationalizing automation tools, standardizing available data, and deploying better capabilities in areas of weakness. This is having the effect of both streamlining the underlying costs structure (e.g. by reducing headcount in regulatory intelligence functions as automated workflow tools are utilized to manage the incoming stream of proposed changes), and improving the overall compliance capability of the company (e.g. by rationalizing policy management across the company, documents of record and their point-in-time historical versions are readily available to employees and compliance professionals).
We expect these two hypotheses to continue to be proven and turn into legitimate trends in the legal function as GCs address the core issues they identified in this Excellence Report. Rationalizing compliance programs across the wide array of stakeholders, and aligning automation tools and compliance data, will continue to bear fruit.
Here at Mitratech, we are proud that many of our leading client legal departments are using our incident management and investigations solutions to minimize these risks, helping to make their office of the general counsel the best-run function in their respective companies. We would love to discuss how we can enable your legal department to be the best-run function in your organization.