REUTERS | A wind farm generates electricity near bales of hay in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near the town of Pincher Creek, Alberta September 27, 2010. The non-polluting source of renewable energy is fed into the provincial electrical grid that powers Southern Alberta industries and residences. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS ENERGY IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Earlier this month I chaired a meeting of the Practical Law In-house Consultation Board focusing on environmental, social and governance reporting (ESG). Across the spectrum of industry sector and organisation size, our members agreed that the various and fast-paced developments in this area presented multiple challenges for in-house teams. 

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REUTERS | Mike Blake

Please join us for a discussion hosted by the Centre for Legal Leadership (CLL) on 19 May 2021 (2.00pm-3.30pm) about how in-house legal teams can best be structured and resourced to deliver an effective service to their organisation. Whether you lead a team or work within one, it’s important that you understand the context in which structuring and resourcing decisions are taken.

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REUTERS | An Atlantic Puffin is seen among the daisies on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain July 16, 2019. Picture taken July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden - RC17F20A9AE0

A further relaxation of lockdown restrictions in England are expected on 17 May 2021 and the first repayments under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme are also due in May. Aside from COVID-19, in-house lawyers should also take note of the publication of the UK’s 6th carbon budget, which will require greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 78% by 2035.

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REUTERS | An aerial view of tulip fields near the city of Creil, Netherlands April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

300 members of the International Compliance Association (ICA) were surveyed in September 2020 about their experience of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workforce. Their responses exposed some sobering statistics including that four in ten compliance professionals have experienced discrimination at work. However, the survey also recorded promising signs of progress in advancing D&I.

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REUTERS | Mark Blinch

Since the winter agenda, the UK and EU formally exited the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK GDPR entered force in the UK, and the EU GDPR regime is now a separate and parallel system. Businesses that are involved in processing activity in both the UK and the EU need to be compliant with both regimes. Continue reading

REUTERS | A bee searches for pollen among cherry blossoms on a sunny spring day in Lausanne, Switzerland March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased in England from 12 April 2021. Restart Grants will be available in England from 1 April and, from 6 April, the Recovery Loan Scheme will open to all UK businesses and most changes to the Immigration Rules will come into force.

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REUTERS | Phil Noble

At the start of the month, The Centre for Legal Leadership hosted the first of a series of webinars in conjunction with Practical Law on ethics and the in-house lawyer. Here is a summary of the key themes that were discussed at the event.

What are legal ethics?

In the “standard conception of legal ethics”, lawyers are:

  • Neutral to their clients’ behaviour and merely take instructions.
  • Partisan and think about what is best for their client.
  • Unaccountable for their clients’ actions.

Working in-house changes this dynamic somewhat as lawyers are closer to the culture and values of their organisation than external counsel.

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REUTERS | Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Companies are constantly being challenged to review their existing operating models and improve the processes and technology that support them. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the related explosion in remote working, has fuelled the need for innovative solutions that can radically improve the efficiency and security of those models.

Contract management is one such case. The emergence of distributed ledger technology (blockchain), as well as significantly improved e-signature platforms and multi-party digital web-browsers, has made the document execution elements of contract management more efficient and flexible than ever before. When different technologies are adopted collaboratively, important legal contract requirements, such as authorised signing and witness signatures, can be met quickly and securely.

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REUTERS | Henry Romero

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way that we work and accelerated changes that might previously have taken ten years. Leaders are being challenged to adapt at the same pace, and the consequences of failure are significant. For example:

  • Top performers leave.
  • Staff burn out.
  • Claims of harassment and bullying increase.

These outcomes will contribute to lower employee engagement, be obvious to clients and show up in financial performance. It is not possible to revert to business as usual. To succeed, leaders must remove limits on their thinking and look to the future. We believe the way forward should focus on inclusive leadership.

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