Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Report from Sydney Risk Roundtable

Last week, we held our inaugural Australian Risk Roundtable meeting in Sydney, Australia. Many thanks to K&L Gates for hosting. Pat Archbold, Head of IntApp’s Risk Practice, delivered a presentation about emerging challenges firms around the world are facing with respect to information security, risk management and compliance. He sends this update:
  • Dan -- I’m pleased to report back a successful Risk Roundtable session in Sydney, Australia. K&L Gates was generous enough to host a very large and active group of risk management and technology leaders. This is the first time we’ve held a session in Australia, and we look forward to charting local risk trends and developing future programs here.
  • The group agreed that while firms are successfully managing information security issues today, these issues are quickly becoming more challenging to deal with. Many attending firms are looking to improve their information security processes and strategies in response to increasing pressure from clients.
  • There was a good deal of discussion around evolving anti-money laundering (AML) requirements, file reviews and information retention. One participant mentioned that his firm is seeing an increasing number of Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCGs) that conflict with existing firm policies, spurring active discussion around how to remedy the variance between standard and specific procedures.
  • Finally, we had a quick discussion about the conflicts process as a whole, and focused on how to modify the intake process to obtain more comprehensive matter information at matter inception.
Our co-host, Dion Cusack, Corporate Services Manager with K&L Gates sends notes as well:
  • It was a pleasure to co-host with IntApp colleagues from other firms around Australia to discuss the commitment we all share in improving the quality of legal advice and service we provide our clients, while at the same time minimising the risks to our own firms.
  • As the discussion evolved it was evident that we all face similar challenges and issues in the mitigation of risk. Some of the issues are not new, for example conflicts, document management and retention strategies, staff supervision and performance, which continue remain high on the risk registers of most firms. While at the same time, there are significant new and emerging risks that all law firms will need to be proactive in managing.
  • As Pat mentioned information security is an emerging issue, which in my view should be high on the risk register of all law firms. Law firms today process greater amounts of information both internally and externally than ever before. Firms create, use, disseminate, edit, store, retrieve and secure information in so many different ways, using a variety of systems, processes and devices, while at the same time the nature of work is changing and becoming more flexible and mobile. This creates greater vulnerabilities to both client and firm information, which consequently attaches a diversity of reputational, financial or operational impacts if not managed effectively. From the discussion there was acknowledgment that a more sophisticated response to the management of information security is now required.

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