REUTERS | Amit Dave

Earlier this month I chaired a meeting of the Practical Law In-house Consultation Board where the topic of conversation was how COVID-19 has affected the management of legal teams. Here are some of the key points from that discussion.

Dealing with the move to remote working

The sudden move to remote working in spring 2020 was a huge adjustment for some teams (struggles with printers and toner were highlighted) but relatively seamless for others who were able to rely on their existing cloud infrastructure.

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Progress of the draft ePrivacy Regulation (ePR) through the EU’s corridors of power has been slow, to say the least. But on 10 February, the Portuguese EU presidency finally received a mandate from the European Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the final version of the draft ePR , the younger sibling of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (EU GDPR), focusing on electronic communications.

The ePR, like the EU GDPR, will have extraterritorial effect and the post-Brexit UK is also expected to closely mirror the final ePR in its domestic legislation. UK businesses therefore need to keep a close eye on developments.

Although the draft ePR’s key regulations have remained unchanged since the first drafts, there have been many modifications to the merits of the detailed provisions (see Article, Latest e-Privacy Regulation proposals: breaking the deadlock?). The final version agreed by the Council contains the following main rules: Continue reading

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The most recent data from the UK Office of National Statistics shows that 35% of working adults are working exclusively from home, while in the US a study by Upwork found that 42% of the American workforce remains fully remote. After many months of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations and their employees are adapting to, and valuing the benefits of, remote working. These include:

  • A better work-life balance and improved wellbeing for employees.
  • Increased job satisfaction.
  • Improved productivity.
  • A positive environmental impact.

A July 2020 Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders plan to continue to allow employees to work remotely, at least part of the time, after the pandemic subsides.

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REUTERS | Sergei Karpukhin

Legal professionals who contact LawCare often say that they are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Living, working and, for some, home-schooling through the COVID-19 pandemic has left many with stress at unmanageable levels, and with few reserves to draw on to deal with it. Many lawyers are working longer hours than ever before and finding it hard to switch off.

Our stress response is designed to be used in short bursts of up to 30 minutes, to escape a threat to survival. A boost of cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin gets our heart racing and blood pumping enabling us to make a speedy getaway from a wild animal chasing us, for example. Wild animals may have been replaced by a bullying boss, a difficult client or a work deadline, but our stress response is the same.

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On 5 January 2021, the Council of the EU – with Portugal serving as the President-in-Office – released a new draft version of the ePrivacy Regulation (the Regulation), which is meant to replace the ePrivacy Directive.

The new draft does not include any amendments to the conceptual framework of the Regulation, but includes significant changes to the main text of the previous draft (for further background, see Article, Latest e-Privacy Regulation proposals: breaking the deadlock?). According to the Portuguese presidency, the amendments seek to simplify the text of the Regulation, make it more consistent with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and more clearly reflect the Regulation’s lex specialis relationship to the GDPR. The following is a summary of the main amendments to the draft: Continue reading

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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