It’s the end of the year, which means that organizations are busy publishing the results of annual surveys and forecasting the outlook for the year to come. While any general counsel would appreciate ranking first in a “Top 5” list, here are five things they want to happen next year across the legal landscape.
Improvements to the contract management cycle:
While general counsel most likely have to deal with contracts on a daily basis, inefficient processes are dramatically undermining their productivity. A survey conducted by Exari of more than 90 general counsel revealed that 60 percent feel their contract process is slow, but 47 percent were still using paper filing for storage. Contracts offer key insights into a company’s’ finances, revenue, and risks, and using outdated processes, so general counsel need an efficient contract management system that will help them stay in control of their corporate processes.
Increased security in case of a data breach:
General counsel continue to rate security as one of their top concerns. In the General Counsel Data Survey, data privacy/security was the top priority among 21 percent of respondents, just behind compliance and ethics at 27 percent. The issue isn’t a lack of awareness, rather, speeding up the efforts and response time to address the challenge. Organizations are slow to react because they don’t think they have sufficient resources to address the complexity of the problem.
Privacy in cloud-based technologies:
The legal profession consistently takes first place as the sector that is slowest to adopt technology. The Netwrix 2015 Cloud Security survey uncovered that the top concerns hindering cloud technology adoption among lawyers include security and privacy of data, migration costs, and loss of physical controls. When shopping around for cloud-based platforms, legal departments should look for providers that offer reliable security measures and meet requirements of compliance auditors.
Sharpened response during a social media crisis:
We all use social media (even at work), but it’s safe to say that almost nobody knows what to do when a social media crisis arises. According to a survey by communications firm Weber Shandwick, 47 percent of in-house attorneys reported their legal departments reported not having spent any time at all preparing for a social media crisis in the past year. The respondents estimated it would take 38 hours to activate a plan of action to manage a social media crisis, which may not be enough time to salvage a company’s reputation in today’s fast-paced business environment. Since the legal department is an essential member of the crisis management team, and should be involved in all stages of a social media crisis they should stay informed of the risks social media poses and participate in training.
Better preparation for IP threats:
More than half of the respondents in Consero’s 2015 Global IP Management Data Survey said they felt unprepared for threats to their intellectual property in global markets. An overwhelming majority, 89 percent said that foreign governments are not doing enough to control IP threats and risks. With this thought in mind, it is important that general counsel increase their focus on foreign IP threats and theft especially given the lack of confidence they have in foreign governments to mitigate such threats. When people think of IP, they think of infringement and trademarks. The reality is that IP theft and cybersecurity pose an equal threat, so chief technology offers should work together with the legal department to identify which areas need the most protection.
Looking ahead, general counsel will continue to keep cybersecurity and data privacy closely on their radar as organizations are aware that a breach is inevitable. There will be a continued reliance on technology and the adaptation of contract management as general counsel recognize the pay off in terms of risk management and compliance. Over the course of the next year general counsel will continue to work closely with other business units to show just how critical they are to the success of the organization.