Friday, June 28, 2013

Report from Recent Toronto Risk Roundtable

Last week, we held a Risk Roundtable Toronto. Many thanks to Goodmans for hosting. The event featured engaging presentations on risk issues ranging from conflicts clearance for lateral transfers, the rise of alternative business structures, outcomes-focused regulation, professional responsibility and cloud computing and evolving protocol for compliance with Know Your Client requirements. Kathryn Hume, who manages and moderates these Risk Roundtables, sends this update:
  • Dan, I'm pleased to report back a successful Toronto Risk Roundtable. Goodmans generously agreed to host our group of risk managers and technology leaders. A special thanks to Eugene Cipparone, Director of Professional Support at Goodmans, who brought together this group of Toronto-based risk leaders. 
  • Malcolm Mercer, General Counsel at McCarthy T├ętrault and bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, began the discussion with an overview of key activity currently taking place in Canadian regulation. Malcolm discussed a letter Susan Grundy, General Counsel at Blakes, recently sent on behalf of sixteen firms to the Law Society of Upper Canada to request clarification of the Rules of Professional Conduct to permit “limited disclosure [of work done by a transferring lawyer] for the purpose of clearing conflicts,” a shift in protocol to accommodate the rise in lateral transfers. Malcolm also touched briefly upon the Law Society’s currently discussions to potentially accept alternative business structures in Canada and to adopt an “outcomes-focused” approach to regulation similar to the Australian paradigm.
  • Simon Chester, Partner in the Litigation and Business Law groups of Heenan Blaikie, spoke about the continued trend of clients mandating specific terms of business in their Requests for Proposals (RFPs). As RFPs frequently restrict firms from accepting future business with a vast set of business competitors, firms struggle to balance short-term objectives with the long-term strategy (e.g. accepting business with certain financial institutions within the financial services practice group could cripple opportunities for the insolvency practice group in the future). Simon also spoke about how law firms can achieve their professional responsibility obligations in the age of the cloud, recommending the Law Society of British Columbia’s 2012 Cloud Computing Report and 2013 Cloud Computing Checklist as the best available resources on the subject. Simon highlighted that firms should pay special attention to the contractual provisions they establish with hosted service providers to ensure they can fulfill compliance obligations required by their respective Law Societies. 
  • As our event took place just after the publication of the CBA Legal Futures latest report on emerging trends, the topic of cloud computing ushered a general debate about how regulatory bodies should adapt policies and rules to accommodate new technologies and practices. As it stands, the American Bar Association and the 14 U.S. states (Florida’s impending opinion will make 15) that have delivered opinions on the cloud require “reasonable” and “adequate” protection to protect client confidentiality. We hope to use Risk Roundtables across the globe as a forum to define just what “reasonable” standards look like so that firms can maintain their commitment to excellent standards of client care while embracing new technologies to improve client service.
Kathryn looks forward to the upcoming Autumn Roundtable series.  Stay tuned for updates! 

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