Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Risk Roundtable Reports (Boston, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Toronto Events)

Throughout May, we’ve hosted a series of Risk Roundtables across the US and Canada featuring a wonderful collection of experts covering a wide gambit of risk management issues. The past two weeks featured events in Boston, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Toronto. Many thanks to Mintz Levin, Norton Rose Fulbright, Winstead, DLA Piper and Davies Ward for hosting. The events featured presentations on three distinct subjects: the impact of technology on legal ethics, theoretical and practical considerations on corporate family conflicts and the impact of alternative business structures on business operations and management. Kathryn Hume, who manages and moderates the Risk Roundtable Program, sends this update:
  • Dan, I'm pleased to report back successful Risk Roundtables across North America. A special thanks to Fred Pretorius (Director of Information Services, Mintz Levin), Wendy Richerson (PMO Project Manager, Norton Rose Fulbright), Chris DiMasi (CTO, Winstead), Kent Fredrickson (Director, Enterprise Risk Management, DLA Piper) and Ivo Nikolov (Director of IT, Davies Ward) for hosting the groups of Risk and IT leaders at their respective firms.

    • Our Boston session featured a fascinating presentation by Andrew Perlman, Legal Ethics Professor at Suffolk University and Director of this institution’s Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation. Andrew unpacked the changes made to the comments of model rule 1.6 during the ABA 20/20 commission relating to what constitutes "reasonable efforts to prevent unauthorized access to or disclosure of" client information.
  • Stakeholders from Ropes & Gray and Edwards Wildman Palmer debated approaches to classifying client information during new business intake to assess data sensitivity and modify access controls as required.
  • We discussed client requirements for encryption, particularly in light of the recent allegations of spying on privileged information held by Mayer Brown.
  • Finally, we had a rich debate about how the vast risk exposure of electronic information has shifted a lawyer’s ethical duty to protect confidentiality from an active commitment to keep information secret to a more indirect effort to prevent others from gaining access.

    • Bill Freivogel, an independent consultant on legal ethics and professional responsibility, graciously joined us in Houston, Dallas and Chicago to lead three sessions on managing corporate family conflicts. Bill outlined recent case law regarding corporate family conflicts, describing two types of relationships between a corporate parent and subsidiary that were different for conflicts purposes to provide guidance on when affiliates should be consider one with corporate parents for conflicts purposes.
  • As experts and ABA opinion 95-390 provide no "bright line" test for making a determination, firms are encouraged to consider whether the parent and affiliate share legal departments, IT and operational infrastructure, and large proportions of revenue. Firms, of course, are advised clearly to articulate whom they believe to be representing in engagement letters and advanced waivers.
  • In Chicago, attendees compared techniques for using multiple data sources to figure out just who the affiliates of large corporate families were. The group brainstormed an idea to launch an open source platform to share individual efforts on resolving corporate affiliates across the legal conflicts and risk management community.

    • Finally, our Toronto gathering featured a presentation by Malcolm Mercer on developments afoot in the Upper Canada Law Society’s Alternative Business Structures Working Group. To promote access to justice across a vast consumer base, the group advocates for admission of non-law firm legal service providers as well as non equity partner investment in traditional law firms.
  • We analyzed the rhetorical difference between the practice of law as a profession and the provision of legal services as a business and attendees shared strategies under development at their law firms to modify business development and pricing to stay competitive against new players like Deloitte and Price Waterhouse Coopers.
  • Finally, the risk leaders discussed their efforts to collaborate with in-house counsel on Outside Counsel Guidelines, dismissing a unilateral acceptance of terms to work to understand why clients include specific requirements and how law firms might integrate them into existing processes to dampen their impact and cultivate awareness of the importance of guidelines with individual partners.
Kathryn's next Roundtables are set for Tampa and Orlando next week.

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