REUTERS | David W Cerny
REUTERS | David W Cerny

Current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are likely to continue throughout February and many businesses affected by the restrictions will be interested in the recent Supreme Court decision concerning business interruption insurance. In-house lawyers should also keep their eye on recent developments in corporate governance and climate change.

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Despite the impending end of the Brexit transition period, negotiations between the UK and the European Union over a trade deal are still ongoing. As no agreement is in place, a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility. COVID-19 restrictions will continue to have a major impact on commercial activity in January and beyond, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors.

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REUTERS | Fred Thornhill

2020 has been a busy year for data protection fines. We have seen some pretty seismic regulatory activity. Some of the headlines from the ICO include:

  • British Airways: £20m.
  • Marriott: £18.4m.
  • Ticketmaster: £1.25m.

From EU regulators in this month we have also had:

  • Google: €100m from the French regulator, CNIL.
  • Amazon: €35m from French regulator, CNIL.

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REUTERS | Chris Helgren

Finding an effective way to bring balance into my day as a busy lawyer was often a major challenge. I thought that my tiredness, poor mood, poor sleep, and lack of energy and brain power during the day was because of the demands of the job.

I had some of the traditional tools to help me in those situations, but it turned out that I was missing the foundations for health and wellbeing that I now know have helped me to thrive in my career without the burnout.

Those foundations were not what we often think about: being productive with our time, being more efficient, learning how to say “no”. Productivity skills have a place, but they’re not so useful if you still feel tired during the day, you can’t think clearly, and your mood is low.

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REUTERS | Esam Al-Fetori

The SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 (StaRs) came into force on 25 November 2019, comprising a set of Principles, a Code of Conduct for Solicitors and a Code of Conduct for Firms, replacing the previous framework contained in the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

Practice note, SRA Standards and Regulations 2019: issues for practitioners outlines the structure of the SRA Principles and Codes of Conduct 2019 and how they differ from the previous 2011 Code and details the content of both 2019 Codes.

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REUTERS | Molly Riley

What’s your purpose?

My work in recent years and my book, Business Thinking in Practice for In-House Counsel, focuses on human-centred skills for business and how these are needed and can be developed by lawyers. That’s not just my predilection, but also the direction of travel in which skills needed by business leaders and, by extension, legal leaders are headed.

While my focus is mostly on legal departments and general counsel (GC), this trajectory is not only reserved for in-house lawyers. Law firm lawyers will increasingly need to focus on human-centred business skills, alongside their technical expertise. As digitisation increases in both business and law, bringing more human-centred skills to the fore will be what sets human talent apart. Even the most advanced artificial intelligence is still some way off developing skills like creativity, empathy and leadership.

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At the time of the Autumn agenda the CJEU’s unexpected decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems C-311/18 (Schrems II), which invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield, was causing some consternation in legal departments across the world. Since then, a good deal has been done at EU level to clear a path for organisations transferring personal data across borders. Continue reading

REUTERS | Mike Segar

The Brexit transition period will end at 11.00 pm on 31 December 2020. In addition, England’s 28-day lockdown ends on 2 December 2020, and the majority of the upcoming changes to the immigration rules will take effect on 1 December 2020.

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In the past week the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) released its long-awaited recommendations on supplementary measures for data transfers (Recommendations) following the decision of the CJEU on 16 July 2020 in ‘Schrems II’ (Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Limited Case C-311/18). On the following day, the European Commission issued equally long-awaited draft standard contractual clauses (New SCCs) for data transfers outside the European Economic Area (EEA), and a further set of SCCs for use in transfers within the EEA (EEA Controller-Processor SCCs). The Recommendations and both sets of SCCs are subject to short consultation periods, although the EDPB has said that its Recommendations take effect immediately. Continue reading

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COVID-19 and the upheaval surrounding it has overshadowed many other aspects of 2020, but has highlighted the importance of stress management and understanding the causes of stress.

While some of these causes recede while we are predominantly working from home (such as direct exposure to bullying and sexual harassment – a recognised issue in some legal workplaces), some remain unaffected or are even exacerbated. Working from home long-term also poses new challenges (I cover some of these in free-to-view Practical Law videos on self-leadership and legal team leadership during a pandemic).

Earlier in 2020, I worked with Practical Law to conduct a survey investigating the causes of stress in UK in-house lawyers. I wanted to test two hypotheses that I had formulated over the course of 15 years spent working with lawyers, namely that:

  • In-house law is a more stressful environment than law practised by lawyers in law firms (what I call “business law”), contrary to what is often believed.
  • There is a gender angle to the question of stress which has been ignored to-date, in that female lawyers are typically under more stress than their male counterparts, wherever they practise.

Comparing the results of this survey with those from previous surveys that focused on Swedish lawyers has been illuminating and challenges those hypotheses’ validity in the UK to some extent.

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