ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand

CONFERENCE CONDENSED: A DOUBLE-WHAMMY OF TAKEAWAYS FROM ILANZ19

CONFERENCE CONDENSED: A DOUBLE-WHAMMY OF TAKEAWAYS FROM ILANZ19

By SIAN WINGATE, PRESIDENT ILANZ COMMITTEE| 1 July 2019

Our annual conference takes a whole year to plan. This is because as soon as one conference has finished, we begin to think about what speakers or themes we will use next year!

This blog will offer you some key takeaways from a couple of sessions.

HAYLEY EVANS – TURNING MATTER MANAGEMENT INTO INSIGHTS

Anyone who has met Hayley will know that she is colourful. I don’t mean her language, I mean her clothes! Bright, radiant colours are her signature dress code and her slide deck for her presentation was just as vibrant.

A self-confessed data geek, Hayley managed to keep everyone in the room engaged and interested with her account of how gathering targeted data on what her legal function is doing, for whom and why has helped her understand her function’s needs.

When Hayley set up her legal function at Wellington City Council, she had no other legal staff. She told us that she needed to identify the problem in order to work out how to solve it.

The problems Hayley identified included:

  • 11 external law firms were being instructed
  • Legal matters were being instructed out by 50+ managers within council
  • Legal spending was double the legal budget
  • There were an unknown number of matters
  • No knowledge was being captured from one matter to the next

The solutions Hayley adopted included:

  • Applying a strict matter recording policy using Workflow Max. All matters were logged, even if short 20-minute bits of work.
  • Implementing a panel system for the external firms with targeted budget. Hayley ensured she worked with the existing firms to understand their aspirations and specialties to ensure that they wanted the work and could deliver it.
  • Identifying where the largest portion of legal spend was and implemented a standard approach to that type of work (contracts in their case)

What Hayley was able to teach us

  • She taught us how to plan on what insights you want to gain from gathering in matter management data. In her case, she knew she needed to know what work was being done, where she could standardize to save time & external legal spend and where she needed to bring in-house expertise into the function.
  • That specific data with context could explain why she needed to build her team. For example, the matter recording enabled her to identify that an in-house RMA lawyer would be a good investment as there is a lot of that work. She could prove this need using her data.
  • That implementing matter management software (and actually using it!) can be time consuming but it yields so many insights that it is worthwhile.

Hayley Evans Image2

I found the session really practical, helpful and interesting. It’s become clearer over the conferences we have held that the recurring attribute of high performing legal teams is that they (i) know what their lawyers are doing,  (ii) offer some standardisation processes or tools to their people on how to do the work and (iii) know what value that work is adding to their organization. Hayley has nailed all three and we thank her for attending conference to share her learning.

UNSESSIONS – THE CHALLENGES OF MANAGING COMPLIANCE

Once again we ran the UnSessions at ILANZ19. Our delegates suggested four topics and one of these was ‘managing legal compliance: the challenges’.

Legal and compliance are often bundled up into the same sentence. However, as our delegates discussed, they are quite different disciplines. The themes that came up were:

  • Compliance is passed to the legal team The small group chatted about how they are often expected to undertake a legal compliance programme and audit compliance, as well as perform legal services. For one lawyer, she explained that the audit of compliance takes her months. This is because her employer is a tertiary education institute, so every department has its own compliance rules and regulations.
  • Business managers expect legal to ‘know’ if they are compliant A common issue is that legal may ask if a team or department is compliant and the respondent doesn’t necessarily know. This is a grave concern and legal may not have the answers as they do not manage the day to day processes around compliance.
  • Compliance can be over-complicated Some observed that the most compliant companies have simple, lean compliance processes in place.
  • Culture change a culture where the value of compliance is recognised. It’s a valuable tool to know if you are managing your risk well and working with the legal rules that govern your type of work.
  • Compliance is the job of the business, not just the legal team More education to business teams on why compliance is important and is not just ‘box ticking’ would be great we heard
  • Compliance is good business If you have a good compliance programme, you are running a good business.
  • Auditing compliance is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff A few delegates agreed that compliance registers only encourage ‘box ticking’ and are backwards looking. The best way to manage compliance is to integrate compliance into the day to day operational processes. For example, a procurement process for a supply of services that needs a special licence in place by the trades person or contractor may integrate checking and verifying that required licenses are in place before the relevant purchase order can be raised.

 

Compliance trend survey snip2

 

This session opened my eyes to the amount of compliance work our in-house legal colleagues have to undertake. Our trends survey revealed that compliance is the second highest priority for the in-house teams we surveyed. Yet the same respondents told us that only 14% of their time is spent on compliance. This would account for why there are so many pressures to manage compliance.

Until the next blog, take care

Sian