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Adapting to Adversity part 4: Four ways lawyers can be proactive in times of crisis

23 Apr 2020

by Angus Chudleigh

The current coronavirus pandemic, the implementation of GDPR back in 2018, and the upcoming phase out of IBOR and LIBOR in the banking world, are all examples of where businesses have had to quickly review their contracts in a short space of time. We would all like to be proactive at times like this, but that is often easier said than done.

At the moment, the City regulator and the Bank of England are urging banks and insurers to fast forward their transition plans for IBOR/ LIBOR to push this up the agenda for all. By looking at business’ responses to regulatory change, and how they have adapted in times of crisis, we can begin to think of best practices to implementing new and es proactive approaches. Understanding the work law firms must put in to be successful during times of economic challenge, along with highlighting companies that have responded the best in the past and diving deeper into preparations will all prove fruitful for the future.

Although controversial, Google became a winner of the GDPR scene, by actioning a strict- consent based approach. To avoid any potential fines, it swiftly implemented change, which despite affecting publishers, ensured they complied with the law.

Below are tips on how best to deal with, and prepare for any potential changes in regulation or future crisis:

1. Analyse the regulatory landscape
The first step to being proactive for regulatory change, is to understand what has happened in the past, and how these situations were managed.

It is essential to understand how past changes in regulation and different types of crisis have impacted your business, before you can brainstorm for other eventualities. Understanding where weak spots hide in your company, with a team dedicated to tackling these potential risks, will go a long way when the time comes to act. You will have a better grasp of your priorities and what needs to happen first.
Engaging with experts during this time who know the regulatory landscape will help anticipate potential risks. But companies should also be looking at their current contracts and extracting information where possible to gain further insight.


2. Educate your team
While having a core group of people prepared to quickly deal with changes is key, your wider team will also benefit for education. Refreshers on legal requirements old and new, along with training on specialist software will bring the business a step closer to preparedness. A team with improved or new skillsets will become an asset to the company during times of change as they will be instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition should it become necessary.

In stressful times of change, this will also help team morale, and enable a more cohesive approach to tackling the problem in hand. Companies that are successful during change, plan accordingly and ensure that key decision makers, and their wider teams are informed and notified on business priorities. Inclusion and clear communication mean that teams understand the reason for the change and what their role is in the success of the project.

3. Inform your clients
As with educating your team, making sure your clients know about the changes in regulation, and how this is a legal obligation from the outset, will help mediate any confusion or tension in the months where the planning and change will involve them.

Highlighting how changes in legal requirements need to be observed by all is beneficial to both parties, so the sooner this can happen the better. Estimating the impact on them, and how the business aims to combat this will be appreciated by your clients. Giving them forewarning and time to plan themselves. What’s more these insights need not be expensive, as specialist software is capable to pre-emptively check contracts to highlight areas that need remedied, ensuring that clients are not only kept on the front foot, but do not waste time and money on legal costs.

4. Update your technology
Expensive in the short term, but a sound investment for the future. As many of the best companies did when handling the change in GDPR, making sure the software you are using to handle contracts is up to date and equipped to serve the business during such busy times is of paramount importance.

Regulatory and compliance changes undoubtedly mean a change to contracts and investing in software that makes these processes straightforward and efficient will mean that time usually wasted here, can be actioned into more meaningful business operations. Updating tools used to keep contracts in digital formats and indexed in contractual positions offers the visibility required to be quick off the mark in times of regulatory change.


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