For many in-house counsel 2018 will be a story of preparing for two seismic events. After much fanfare and the odd headache for lawyers, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) came into effect on 25 May. Focus is likely to have since shifted towards getting ready for something rather more nebulous and potentially more migraine-inducing: Brexit.

The tectonic plates of data protection and Brexit will soon collide and it may be time to dust off some of the old notes to help preparing. Some of the work lawyers will need to do and direct will have echoes of the exercises many will have carried out in the relatively recent past. Continue reading

REUTERS | Carlos Barria

Who needs a playbook anyway?

The word “playbook” is a relatively recent addition to the contract drafting lawyers’ lexicon. It stands twitching nervously in the crowded room, wondering if it belongs, gazing reverently at established members like “representations” and “liability” or long-standing, if exotic, old-timers like “mutatis mutandis”. Relative newbies like “process” and “technology” are asserting themselves but “playbooks” are tolerated by some, despised by others, misunderstood by most, and embraced by only a few. The presumption seems to be that real lawyers don’t need playbooks. However, there are good reasons why these attitudes should change as, although playbooks aren’t necessary for every lawyer reviewing contracts, they certainly deserve their place in the rapidly changing legal world.

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REUTERS | Dominic Ebenbichler

Today is World Mental Health Day, which this year focuses on young people, giving us an opportunity to look at how young people fare in the legal profession.

At LawCare we believe you start “thinking like a lawyer” on the first day of your legal studies. Law is by nature competitive and adversarial, and the heavy workload begins when studying or training to be a lawyer. There are high levels of negative emotions within law: the work is often about winning or losing and requires legal professionals to be critical, judgmental, combative and aggressive. You are required to think pessimistically, looking for potential problems and worse-case scenarios. In addition, many law students and lawyers are perfectionists who fear failure and making mistakes. All of this can significantly affect mental health and wellbeing.

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REUTERS | Ognen Teofilovski

Next prepares for Brexit

Next, the retailer, released their half year results on 25 September 2018. A full eleven pages of that statement was devoted to their Brexit planning and it makes for fascinating reading. Even if clothing retail is not your sector, Next go into useful detail on what their risks and operational challenges are expected to be, how they are classifying them and how they intend to deal with them. They pose specific policy questions to the government on their post-Brexit choices and are clear on what is needed from government to improve their business planning.

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REUTERS | Mike Blake

Why resilience training?

Resilience can mean the ability to bounce back from disruption, stress or change, or a dynamic process that involves a personal negotiation through life that fluctuates across time, life stage and context, as defined by psychologists Tusaie and Dyer. More than ever, resilience has become also a necessary part of being a lawyer.

When turning to managing your career as a lawyer, experts first advise lawyers to reflect on the challenges faced in working life. These might be the place of work, the environment of the workplace, balancing competing requirements in life with work, client or colleague expectations, or even perception of confidence or age, at any stage of professional life.

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The UK is (still) in a state of uncertainty about the precise impact of Brexit. But that shouldn’t stop in-house legal teams preparing themselves, indeed the more uncertain Brexit looks the more preparation is required.  A resilient and efficient in-house legal team will be a vital asset both for defending businesses against Brexit threats and supporting them to make the most of Brexit opportunities. But the work of preparing needs to start as early as possible.

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REUTERS | Navesh Chitrakar

When the business calls for shorter and more user-friendly contracts, how many lawyers think “I’ve always used this clause” and “Who knows what may happen if I stop using it”? But, where there’s a business need to reduce contract terms, we need a good business reason to include each clause, not just fear of an unidentified risk.

To help identify that risk, we reviewed 37 of the most common clauses in business-to-business contracts. We looked for the effect and value of each clause and the legal position without it, and published the results in a new practice note: Boilerplate: do I really need this clause and why?

As expected, we found some clauses that could easily be cut, and others that would be useful in most contracts.

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REUTERS | Andrew Winning

Key items on the agenda for in-house lawyers this month include digesting the second tranche of no deal Brexit technical notices, the launch of a consultation on electronically executed documents, and a key decision on litigation privilege in internal investigations.

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