Turn Risk Management into a Competitive Advantage

To address the constantly evolving legal industry and the growing expectations of clients, firms must change and update their operating models, particularly those centered around risk management and compliance. Firms that truly wish to remain competitive should consider replacing their manual processes with a centralized risk solution that manages compliance, strategically evaluates new business, and drives revenue by accelerating conflicts analysis and reporting.

On April 29, 2021, Eric Nerland, Risk and Compliance Practice Group Leader at Intapp, hosted a virtual panel to discuss how a purpose-built solution can help mitigate risk, ensure compliance, and drive profitability. Dale Boyer, Director of Conflicts and Records at Much Shelist, and Lori Hughes, Lead Operations and Information Security Officer at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, joined Nerland to share their experiences promoting risk and compliance within their firms.

Establish a Strong Team

The panel began the discussion by revealing the structure of their teams. Hughes explained that, in addition to her records team, there is also a new business committee that reviews all the business intake and serve as a second set of eyes on the handling of conflict reports. “We have our general counsel, assistant counsel, and lawyers from each of our offices sit on the committee,” Hughes said.

Boyer stated that his firm’s researchers perform a pre-analysis of the results for the lawyers and present them the hits that they think are of the greatest concern. “New clients are all automatically sent to, and reviewed by, practice group chairs,” he said. “But more complex issues get ironed out between the loss-prevention partner and the general counsel.”

Although their firms are structured differently, both Hughes and Boyer agreed that the only way for a firm to successfully operate is if the right people are hired for the right teams.

“It’s really important to have the right people doing conflict previews,” Hughes said. “The task isn’t for everybody, and it does take some analytical thinking.” She explained how analytical thinking and attention to detail play a crucial role in her intake team. “The five people that do active matter intake need to have that keen eye to look at engagement letters, make sure they match up with our intake, and make sure there are no parties mentioned in those documents that haven’t been run for conflict.”

Invest in Conflicts and Business Development Software

Just as important as establishing strong teams is investing in risk and compliance technology to support those teams. Often, firms rely on time-consuming manual processes or outdated technology, both of which can increase risk.

“If you don’t have a client or party listed in your system,” Hughes explained, “then it would be easy for a matter to come in that’s adverse to that person’s work. Potentially, years of building a client relationship could go out the door or become a little more complicated and require waivers.”

Hughes also pointed out the importance of implementing a system to allow professionals to easily search across the platform for data and other key information. “Normally, searching for data isn’t as simple as just typing in a single term; you might miss something if you go too broad,” she explained. To combat this, lawyers may have to continually reconfigure data within their platform, and even then, it does not guarantee that searches will reveal the right data.

Implementing advanced risk and compliance software can help prevent situations like these. Professionals using advanced software can onboard clients quicker, search for data effortlessly, and monitor engagements more efficiently and with more confidence.

Boyer attested to just how much advanced risk and compliance software can impact firms. “When you search a company using Intapp software,” he explained, “it’s automatically part of the system. If anybody else [within the firm] was looking to take on something adverse to them, it would be an automatic hit in the system, and they would immediately see.”

Apply AI with OnePlace Risk & Compliance

AI-based risk and compliance software provides the latest and most advanced technology currently available to firms, and many firm leaders — including Hughes — are considering investing in it. “Our [current] system doesn’t have AI, but we’re looking to make a shift because we need some of those pieces,” she said.

Hughes explained: “I think our team spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get searches just right by using all sorts of various parameters within the system. If you don’t search something correctly, then you’re going to miss something. But if you have some of those AI capabilities, you can narrow your hits down.”

Boyer also agreed that AI “is absolutely the wave of the future.” Although his firm has yet to adopt an AI-based risk and compliance solution, his firm does use other Intapp technology, and he has seen several improvements in terms of efficiency and accuracy.

“We were an early adopter of Intapp technology,” Boyer said. “The great thing about Intapp is that once you finalize a conflicts report, you can circulate it to the lawyers. It can get bumped around from person to person with comments; you don’t have to constantly string things together or have disparate sources for your responses and information. Intapp technology also captures the report forever, so you can get back to older data if necessary.”

Boyer added: “It’s a great tool for boiling down what you need to know and what the lawyer really cares about. It’s a very efficient tool for streamlining the client opening process.”

Download the full recording of the webinar: Get to Know OnePlace Risk & Compliance: Turn Risk Management into a Competitive Advantage.

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Written by:

Eric Nerland

Practice Group Leader, Risk and Compliance

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