The Law Society Gazette: GCs admit struggle with foreign rules

Originally Published in The Law Society Gazette | February 2, 2015 | By Monidipa Fouzder

More than half of general counsel do not believe their legal departments are sufficiently familiar with foreign regulations that impact on their business, according to a survey of leading companies published today.

report from consultancy Consero also shows that 30% of GCs of Fortune 1000 companies surveyed think the greatest impediment to their department’s progress in the next few months is the compliance and regulatory landscape, which will be a departmental priority for a third of respondents in 2015.

Consero chief executive Paul Mandell (pictured) said the pressure on general counsel managing international affairs was intensifying as the global regulatory environment becomes more complex.

‘This job has become particularly difficult at companies that have emerged from a down economy, and have begun to build and invest more actively in foreign markets,’ Mandell said.

‘Not only does growth into new markets pose challenges, but the volume of new rules in many jurisdictions makes the task of staying abreast of what is permissible or required today more demanding than ever.’

A ‘glowing flurry’ of regulations includes currency-exchange mechanisms in Latin America and anti-corruption rules governing health care in China.

Data privacy and security was cited by respondents as another focus. Just over half (53%) of GCs felt their organisations were adequately prepared to defend against cybersecurity threats. More than a third (37%) said their companies had experienced a cybersecurity breach last year, compared with 31% in 2013.

Meanwhile, figures suggest corporations are investing more actively in their legal teams, with more than two-thirds of respondents reporting that staff size had increased last year. More than half (59%) said their departmental budget had increased over the past year.

Less than a third (30%) were delegating more of the company’s legal work to outside counsel than they did 12 months ago.