REUTERS | Mike Segar
REUTERS | Mike Segar

In-house lawyers should be aware of several key climate change announcements made during COP26 and of the publication of the Environment Act 2021. In addition, this month there have been noteworthy developments in diversity and inclusion, and corporate governance.

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Legal panel reviews are a well-established way for corporate legal teams to formally appoint a group of law firms to their panel, establish common ways of working and benefit from more competitive rates and volume discounts. While the purposes of a panel review may be well understood, panel reviews are complex projects that require thoughtful planning and handling.

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REUTERS | Tulips are pictured in a public park in Vienna, Austria, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

At the beginning of the month, I attended The Economist’s General Counsel (GC) summit in London, which brought together a cross-section of senior in-house counsel from a range of industry sectors. Here are some of the themes discussed across the day.

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REUTERS | Ognen Teofilovski

The Centre for Legal Leadership’s latest webinar, hosted in conjunction with Practical Law, looked at leading and managing in-house legal teams. This post highlights the main themes covered in the discussion.

Leadership is a mindset

Being a leader is about more than simply being a manager; it’s a mindset. Leaders need to be curious and show interest in both their colleagues and clients as they set the tone for their team’s culture.

A contributor mentioned a senior executive who reminded them that they should be showing up as a leader in their organisation every day. For example, if they got into a lift in the morning, they should be saying hello to everyone present. If they were not saying anything, they needed to question why that was.

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REUTERS | Ricardo Moraes

In 2015 GC100 (the association of general counsel and company secretaries working in FTSE 100 companies) published a short guide, Overcoming the barriers to in-house lawyers doing pro bono work.  The GC100 Executive Committee is keen to build on some of the lessons learned since the guide was published and, where appropriate, continue to support pro bono efforts by the in-house community.

To help gather the insights needed, the Committee issued a short survey to build an understanding of the current landscape for pro bono work among the in-house community. The summary of responses to this poll will inform GC100’s ongoing work and potential actions to support this important aspect of the legal and governance professions. This post highlights some of the key themes from the survey, which closed on 15 October 2021.

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REUTERS | Maxim Shemetov

Key developments for in-house lawyers this month focus on climate change, with the 26th conference of the parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) being held in Glasgow on 1-12 November 2021. In advance of COP 26, the government has published its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy.

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REUTERS | Vasily Fedosenko

The COVID-19 pandemic era has demanded new and evolving ways of working. But as working practices change, especially with the adoption of remote and hybrid working, some elements of an in-house counsel’s work have become even more important.

Having clear and consistent guidelines and approaches has always been important to the delivery of effective outcomes, but perhaps even more so in a world of wholly or partly distributed teams, where it can be difficult to oversee the approach to issues in person. In that context, one method of establishing such guidelines, legal playbooks, could become an increasingly important resource.

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REUTERS | Ognen Teofilovski

Last week, the Practical Law In-house Consultation board met to discuss some of the pain points that are currently exercising them and their colleagues in the compliance space. The discussion led to some valuable takeaways that are summarised in this post.

All the attendees agreed that companies are struggling to keep on top of an ever-increasing compliance burden. One organisation, keen to avoid a false sense of security, is undertaking an exercise to map the strategic, business process and business operational risks it faces against the control and assurance activities it undertakes in each line of defence. Their key question is: how much reliance can they place on their controls and the assurance activities they undertake?

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REUTERS | A man carrying an umbrella walks across the Old Town Square during a rainstorm in Prague, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Legal Geek 2021

Last week I attended Legal Geek and, embracing the new hybrid working world, my first day was online and the second was at the venue in Brick Lane, London. Although Legal Geek continues to focus on legal tech, and in particular start-ups, this year there were some interesting sessions that examined the legal industry more broadly.

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LawCare recently published the findings of its Life in the Law research study. The study into wellbeing across the legal profession captured data between October 2020 and January 2021 from more than 1,700 legal professionals in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

One of the key findings was that 69% of legal professionals surveyed had experienced mental ill-health in the 12-months prior to completing the survey. In addition, burnout was found to be endemic within the industry, with the average burnout score putting legal professionals at high risk.

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