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4 strategies to help small business attorneys mitigate business risk

As a general counsel (GC) for a growing business, you provide risk management and mitigation as one of your core values. Your organization relies on you to safeguard the business from unpredictable, uncontrollable situations and significant legal repercussions. With changes arising from the COVID-19 pandemic — the ultimate unpredictable, uncontrollable situation — safeguarding the business quickly became the highest priority for most corporate legal departments. 

In fact, according to the 2021 State of Corporate Law Departments report, more than 40% of law departments reported that they had implemented new dispute prevention measures by 2021 to augment their pre-pandemic measures. Risk management and risk mitigation continue to evolve. The challenges you and your company face have raised the stakes, and you need to evolve your own risk management strategy to meet them. Here’s how to start.

New risk management challenges require new tools  

Acknowledging the primary challenges for GC in the new risk management landscape is crucial. The key to addressing common pain points — such as the ones below — is identifying the tools to help. 

  • Challenge: The pace of work has accelerated. Like other roles, legal services is in the midst of a digital transformation — 58% of law departments have reported an increase in workloads, plus temporary or permanent transitions to remote work. Your expertise is needed more than ever to ensure that your company functions.
    Solution: The right legal technology can equip you and your staff with the right resources, streamline key processes, and help you focus on high-value work such as providing strategic counsel to the business.
  • Challenge: Risk management has changed. The pandemic capsized business as usual. In today’s landscape, you need to partner with the C-suite and key business functions to address four critical workstreams:
    1. Ensuring compliance with ever-changing health and safety requirements
    2. Enabling remote work
    3. Optimizing operations to ensure business continuity
    4. Minimizing potential damages
    After addressing these workstreams, you may have less time for actual legal work — and likely, fewer resources.
    Solution: You’ll need to be effective at streamlining work. The right legal technology can help you get up to speed quickly in new practice areas with practice notes, checklists, toolkits, automated documents, and more.
  • Challenge: New regulations are coming fast. A new U.S. presidential administration can mean changes to regulatory, trade, and foreign policy initiatives. For example, a corporate income tax increase could have a major impact on your business.
    Solution: Practice notes and legal toolkits can get you up to speed on the latest developments as they become law.

Four strategies for addressing the new risk management landscape

The intensity of change in business and technology won’t let up. So, your risk management strategy must keep up. Having the tools to develop your policies, procedures, and documentation can help you anticipate and mitigate today’s risks and be ready for tomorrow’s. Here are four strategies you can use to evolve your risk management: 

  1. Reevaluate your risk tolerance. Pressure test your organization’s risk tolerance and make sure it’s still relevant to business change and market dynamics. If you don’t yet have formal, documented processes in place, now is the perfect time to start. Consult with business leaders, create or update key documents, hold training sessions, and publish materials on your intranet. If you work in a complex industry with gray areas or one that’s changing fast, consider a second opinion from outside counsel. 
  2. .Work with senior leaders to take a holistic approach to risk management. Digital transformation has compressed multiple years of innovation into just a few months. Your organization may have created risks by pivoting or transforming its business model, onboarding partners, or digitizing products and services. Work collaboratively with the business to evolve your risk tolerance continually and to apply risk management across business units. What your customer experience team is willing to tolerate will be different than what your compliance team will tolerate, for example. 
  3. Use metrics driven by legal technology to help make the business more profitable. Legal technology can provide critical metrics about your team’s performance, from overall spending to matters that are opened and closed. You can also use insights from data to learn more about the business and use your acumen to find ways to cut costs or deliver more value. Being able to solve a commercial issue while reducing risk can be a win-win.
  4. Evolve the skills of your team. One important way you can safeguard your company is to train your staff members to make sure they have the resources, skills, and experiences to become legal experts and leaders. You could do this yourself — or you could tap into the expertise of more than 300 legal experts by choosing the right legal technology. 

You may feel like you’re navigating uncharted waters as you seek to safeguard your company amid changes created by global events, digital transformation, new regulations, and other issues. The right legal technology can keep you on course with a wealth of online resources, including practice notes, toolkits, and templates. This can enhance your skills as you manage and mitigate risk effectively and expand your role as a strategic consultant to your business. 

For more information, read our white paper: In-House Counsel: How to understand and support your company’s risk tolerance.

Small business attorney: Like some legal resources to help mitigate risk?

Check out Practical Law for startups and small businesses