The Use of Partnering to Reduce Risk and Increase in Innovation

Technology is a fickle beast and isn’t always the most approachable aspect of everyday life for a lawyer, especially for those working in-house. Figuring out exactly how everything works when it comes to technology and all of its encompassing tools can take a lot of time and resources, something that isn’t always in abundance. Not to mention the risks that typically come with any new piece of software or tools, which can quickly lead to confusion and a waste of time if failed to be taught appropriately.

With the recent 13th Annual GC Roundtable, Jeremy Farr, who works for the Bank of Canada believes that most external lawyers – those who work out of house – don’t quite understand the full scope of an in-house lawyer. While it is easy to go as far to say that they are there to be risk managers, but that isn’t simply all they do there, oh no. At the top of their list is to also find out ways to get to the core business objective and work for the benefit of the business, without finding themselves in the way of it; a task easier said than done.

Going back to Jeremy Farr, an individual that defines himself as a second-line of defense, along with a risk manager, and a challenger of conventional thinking believes that a person must get their head into that space. His reasoning behind the statement is down to the fact that he believes being in that particular space of remaining out of the way and adopting new and potentially complicated new tools is practically half of his job. He’s even gone on to say that he ends up spending most of his days doing exactly that for the betterment of the Bank of Canada; at least in his case.

With that in mind, any external legal provider worth their salt should be aware that risks and innovation are a necessary evil at times. Using outside of the box thinking can stir up new solutions to a client’s problem or legal issues, and through the adoption of new tools, the advent of automation can take over and leave more of the grunt work to the machines, once it becomes a feasible option. Adopting these methodologies can not only speed up any potential current and future products, but also save money from across the board, on all ends of the spectrum.

Another credible source, Beth Gearing of McKesson (Rexall) makes note that law firms are particularly good at identifying issues that may crop up through the use of general counsel, and even provide solid advice on the matter where needed. On the flipside, however, when she has asked external lawyers in the past on how to rank a risk between low, medium, and high – the majority of them are reluctant to provide any sort of response to the question.

Both law firms and companies alike seem to be looking towards the future, where innovation throughout the business and their legal departments are quickly becoming a necessary change. Although, new solutions aren’t the only thing that’s set to be brought to the table, but also a new mindset to go alongside it will help push the boat along even further.

Two individuals that have quickly shown to have their finger on the pulse is Shelley Babin of Ontario Power Generation and Gordon Ackroyd of SecureKey Technologies. The pair of them have found success through partnering with outside help, all through the use of expert tech firms to bring a level of intelligence that might be lacking in that small area. With the rise and necessity of new and up-to date technology, these businesses are employing individuals that may not have any talent when it comes to law but have more than enough technological expertise to bring even the most archaic law firms into the modern era.

By realizing the skills gap within their companies, they are quickly closing the gap to bridge the law firm into a modern day setting with new ideas, technology, and systems in place to keep it on their toes. At the end of the day, the risk does still need to be mitigated, but the embrace of innovation is going to see not only their business rise, but also their productivity and efficiency in the long run, just after the small gracing period.