Monday, November 19, 2012

Report from Toronto Risk Roundtable

Last week, we held another Risk Roundtable session in Toronto. Many thanks to Stikeman Elliott for hosting. Brian Lynch, IntApp Risk Practice Group Director, moderated discussions and sends this summary:
  • Dan -- I'm pleased to report back on a very productive Risk Roundtable session in Toronto, where we had a chance to discuss risk trends affecting Canadian firms, who are negotiating ever-more complicated legal requirements.
  • We focused on reviewing the findings of the recently-published Risk Roundtable surveys, comparing and contrasting Canadian results those with results presented in the UK and US reports.
  • Conflicts of interest, rogue partners, information risk, and undesirable clients were cited as top risk management concerns. Non-paying clients were included in the "undesirable client" category, and Risk Partners have become involved in preventing further exposure.
  • A growing trend is the increased scope of client requirements or Outside Counsel Guidelines. US companies have led this charge with required FCPA questionnaires, security restrictions, and representation edicts i/r/t subsidiaries and competitors. Many firms have seen an uptick in information barriers driven by client demand, rather than legal requirements. Some firms automatically apply extra security to certain types of files based upon the nature of the work and the perceived risk. US firms have been wrestling with this trend for the past couple of years, and US clients are now pressing their Canadian counsel to abide by these standards, as well.
  • Laterals have proven to be a tricky topic, as well, as different firms apply different approaches to the client information that can be shared to determine whether a transferring lawyer can join another firm. There are currently a number of initiatives underway to provide clarity and consistency. Sue Grundy (Blake, Cassels & Graydon) and Malcolm Mercer (McCarthy T├ętrault) shared some of the progress on those fronts.
  • Finally, many were waiting to hear how the new IFRS accounting standards would affect audit responses. Simon Chester (Heenan Blaikie) explained that the new standards could be months or years away and that every firm would need to take a closer look at their current audit response process when that change was due to arrive.
  • Thanks again to our host, Stikeman Elliott, for hosting an excellent forum.

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