REUTERS | David Mdzinarishvili

It is relatively easy to maintain crucial connections when you are a regular in the office and able to attend industry events. However, things change when you go away on maternity, paternity, sabbatical or study leave, or are absent for a long period for any other reason. We often feel that our network dissipates before our eyes the moment we step out of the office and stop attending events, and as the anxiety of not wanting to impose descends, it is natural to pull away from business connections.

Re-establishing your network on your return to work is not a “nice-to-have”, but a “must-have”, on both a professional and a personal level, and it is not difficult to do if you approach the task in a structured way and prepare the ground before you put on your out-of-office.

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REUTERS | Global Creative Services (no copyright)

More than two years after the Criminal Finances Act (CFA) received royal assent, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has opened investigations under the Corporate Criminal Offence of failing to prevent tax evasion (‘Failure to Prevent Offence’).

Despite the deadline for implementing the CFA having long passed, an IPSOS Mori survey showed a concerning lack of awareness — as only 25% of companies surveyed had heard of it.

Here I analyse some of the main issues facing the legal and compliance community in response to the Failure to Prevent Offence. In addition, I have collated the key points into a checklist on how to drive a proportionate response in practice, in light of the ‘reasonable procedures’ requirement.

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REUTERS | Eliseo Fernandez

Are you Fit for Law?

We all know that to be a lawyer you need to be intelligent and competent. As a lawyer your most important asset is your brain and legal training has always focused on the ability to think, reason and analyse. However, these are not the only skills you need in the legal workplace.

To be a successful and happy lawyer, you also need to be emotionally intelligent and competent. You need to be able to recognise and identify in yourself (and others) the emotions that drive your decisions, your reactions, your interactions with others, and how you feel about yourself. There is a large body of scientific evidence that supports the role our emotions play in everything we do (see Practice note, Emotional intelligence: an introduction).

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It is common knowledge that lawyers are under pressure, all across the world. Studies in India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Australia, Sweden, the USA, and of course the United Kingdom, all confirm that the psychological state, health, and overall wellbeing of lawyers is substantially worse than in comparable professions.

It is often thought that lawyers in law firms are under more pressure than in-house lawyers. However, there is little evidence to back this up, as most studies to date have been conducted on lawyers working in commercial law firms (what I would call “business lawyers”) rather than on in-house lawyers.

I am working with Practical Law to gather UK data in order to expand my research and cast light on the situation in the UK, and invite you to participate by taking this short survey by 28 February 2020, after which I will share a report on the results. You are guaranteed complete confidentiality and anonymity.

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REUTERS | Molly Riley

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) hosted its third annual event in London last week attracting over 400 attendees from more than 25 countries. Although legal operations is not as well established here as it is in the United States, the size and scale of this event highlights its growing significance in the UK legal market (for further information, see Practice note, Legal operations: an overview).

One of the sessions that caught my attention was led by Paula Davis-Laack and focused on building resilient teams. Historically, law has focused on the individual and undervalued and underinvested in teams. However, lawyers are now required to become more adept at working with each other and in diverse teams that may include other professionals, such as project managers and data scientists. Resilience is particularly important for in-house legal teams who have spent the last few years grappling with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the increasing pace of change in the legal profession and the constant refrain to do more for less.

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The UK will leave the EU at 11pm (UK time) on 31 January 2020. Brexit planning will remain at the top of the agenda for in-house lawyers in February, and for the remainder of the year, as they prepare for the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

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1. Brexit will now happen

The UK will leave the European Union (EU) at 11.00 pm on Friday 31 January 2020. The UK Government’s 80-seat majority in the House of Commons (the Commons) means the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (the Bill), the legislation necessary to make the Withdrawal Agreement legally effective in the UK, will pass. The days of the commons being able to overturn Government legislation are now over. The House of Lords will not vote the Bill down because of the parliamentary convention that it does not vote down legislation promised in a manifesto.

On the EU’s side, the Withdrawal Agreement has to be ratified by the European Parliament. This is expected to happen on 29 January 2020.

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REUTERS | Clodagh Kilcoyne

Following the Conservative Party’s decisive general election victory, the likelihood is that the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 with a withdrawal agreement. This month, in-house lawyers should also keep an eye on developments on the future of audit, climate change and artificial intelligence.

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REUTERS | Sergei Karpukhin

In my former career, I was an in-house lawyer at Alstom and then Siemens, and now following my retirement I am a part-time Honorary Associate Professor of Law at the University of Leicester. In this capacity I carried out a large-scale survey of people who run modern complex contracts, including the lawyers involved. My research suggested that lawyers are different as they have a tendency to be slightly more risk-averse, which didn’t surprise me. In my view, the results of my research strengthen the case for involving in-house counsel in management decisions to ensure that a wider range of views is taken into account in corporate and commercial decision making.

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REUTERS | Ognen Teofilovski

The 2019 report of the Hampton-Alexander Review was published on 13 November 2019. This is the fourth annual publication of the UK government-backed initiative to improve gender diversity and balance in FTSE leadership. The report highlights two important facts.

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