REUTERS | Global Creative Services (no copyright)

Out of the blue your CEO asks you a question about some latest trend in the legal world, which they have heard about from a fellow CEO over a gin and tonic. The CEO didn’t quite catch all the details, but it sounded like “that thing” could save a lot of money and allow lawyers to concentrate on doing more strategic work. So, if LawTech was “that thing”, how do you explain to your CEO in two minutes what it is and what you are doing about it?

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REUTERS | Mark Blinch

In the Winter agenda the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was a real, if improbable, threat. While the transition period until 31 December 2020 might represent a reprieve, there are plenty of things in-house counsel need be doing during the (now ten) months remaining. Our recent blog post, Data protection: what should companies be doing during the Brexit transition period?, will help to navigate the issues and prioritise your actions.

Despite the political landscape remaining uncertain, it does feel like a moment to focus greater attention to BAU data protection and cyber activities. Continue reading

REUTERS | Mike Blake

Ask any lawyer who has practised for 20 years or more what has fundamentally changed in the delivery of legal services since they were a trainee and they will likely tell you very little. Of course, there has been the advent of email, which has increased the volume and speed of work, but the basic relationship between lawyer and client, the way in which work is instructed, carried out and charged for, and the role of the in-house lawyer, has remained consistent.

However, the explosion of legal technologies and the growing role of alternative legal services providers (ALSPs) is changing the way that legal services are delivered, which has particular benefits for in-house teams. Recent research by Konexo, Eversheds Sutherland’s newly re-branded alternative legal and compliance service provider, found that 63% of in-house teams are facing increased overall pressure, compared to 12 months ago, and 62% are experiencing greater pressure to reduce operational costs than 12 months ago. This is the classic conundrum of needing to do more with less.

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REUTERS | Vasily Fedosenko

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020 marked the beginning of what will inevitably be a period of change for the country’s data protection laws.

During the “transition period”, which will last until 31 December 2020, the UK’s data protection laws remain the same in effect as they did on exit day. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) noted in its “Statement on data protection and Brexit implementation – what you need to do” of 29 January 2020 that it will be “business as usual for data protection” during this period (see Legal update, ICO publishes statement on data protection and Brexit implementation). Continue reading

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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