Capturing the Opportunity to Mitigate Risks Before they Materialize and Improve Outcomes
Julia Woog, VP, Privacy & Risk Management and Associate General Counsel (CIPP/US & CIPM), Marchex, Inc., USA
In-house Counsel has an ostensible opportunity to partner with stakeholders of their organisations to shape the direction of events and influence how facts solidify: how the product is designed; what the language of the disclosure says; how data is used by the business. Litigators—who generally are handed a set of established, less-than-desirable facts and charged with making the best of them—are envious of this pre-game, insider positioning.
But despite in-house counsel’s nearly ubiquitous presence within organisations, many legal disputes and violations that could have been mitigated or avoided still arise. In-house counsel’s ostensible opportunity to intervene early and meaningfully—to ensure clearance of legal hurdles while still accomplishing business objectives—will only materialize if counsel is viewed as a trusted partner.
Building partnerships between legal and other parts of the organisation requires a skillset that may not come naturally to many attorneys, a group of highly analytical professionals who have been trained to exhibit a strong voice of authority on matters within their domain. By developing and flexing softer skills—empathy, humility, curiosity, generosity and humor to name a few—in-house counsel will find that he or she can be far more effective in serving the highest interest of the client: minimizing risk and improving outcomes.
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