Broadening The Role of Business Advisor

As the General Counsel of PrizeLogic, I spend most of my days immersed in promotional, loyalty and incentives law. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Mid-Year meeting in Denver and exchange best practices with professionals from a wide range of industries. The conference theme was “Go Beyond . . . Become an Indispensable Business Advisor.”  While each of our backgrounds were quite different, there were three important themes that applied to each and every one of us:

 

  1. Traditional Communication Skills Are Vital to Negotiations

Although it seems obvious, traditional communication skills are vital to being an effective in-house counsel. Regardless of an attorney’s role within an organization, it can be easy to forget simple concepts such as responsiveness, confidence, and setting and managing proper expectations. At least three different speakers reminded the audience of the benefits of in-person conversations, suggesting to either visit a colleague’s office or to pick up the phone rather than simply send another email.

Key takeaway: effective communication is not a novel concept in the legal world. In fact, it is mandatory for any in-house lawyer to foster meaningful relationships, in order to improve his or her ability to effectively negotiate any type of transaction, especially those with difficult issues to overcome.

 

  1. Legal Technology is Advancing at a Rapid Pace

When one of the panelists demonstrated Artificial Intelligence software reviewing a nondisclosure agreement without a lawyer, there was a fair amount of skepticism among attendees – myself included. How can a machine be relied on for legal advice without an attorney’s (or any human) review?

I am still of the opinion that a lawyer should review all legal documents, but its clear legal technology is changing at a rapid pace. And while the technology may not be perfect today, a machine, without question, could eventually process routine documents faster and more consistently than any human being. This will enable lawyers to use new tools to provide more effective counsel, in theory freeing them up to focus on larger, more complex issues.

Key takeaway: practitioners must at least be aware of and stay informed about the tools available, or they will be quickly left behind.

 

  1. Data Privacy and Security is a Team Effort, Starting at the Top

Corporate data security and privacy practices must be a top-down initiative, and information security personnel need support from the entire organization to effectively manage risk and prevent catastrophic corporate breaches.

 

Key takeaway: An in-house lawyer should play a key role in ensuring all company leaders understand, and are involved in their company’s information security program. When tasked with reviewing security specific contract requirements, coordinate with all internal stakeholders and use it as an opportunity to make sure all vested parties are aligned with your organization’s security policies and related procedures.

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