06 December 2017 at 07:27 BST

Legal departments ready to up game in compliance

Legal departments play a vital role in linking ethics and compliance, according to a recent report.

Legal departments are ready to take on greater role in compliance. I Qoncept

Legal departments are motivated to take on a greater role within their organisations regarding compliance and workplace ethics than previously thought, acccording to a report based on responses from 427 in-house legal department professionals about policy and procedure management, ‘Legal professionals play a critical role in connecting components within the ethics and compliance ecosystem,’ said report author Shon Ramey, NAVEX global general counsel. ‘Other departments may have played larger roles in the past, but a dynamic legal environment and increased cooperation among regulatory bodies underscore the vital role the legal function plays when it comes to ensuring compliance with laws and regulations.’

Ready to support and improve compliance programs

While the data shows that legal professionals are ready to support and improve compliance programmes, 42 per cent of respondents said their organisation’s approach to policy and procedure management was either reactive or basic. Additionally, the report indicates that 22 per cent of respondents say their organisations only review applicable laws and regulations ‘reactively’ when a potential issue is raised.

Difficulties

Regarding employee training, respondents identified insufficient resources, limited hours, and difficulty covering all necessary topics for a global workforce as their top challenges. ‘Legal departments will likely always struggle with budgets and time when it comes to prioritising their work requirements,’ Mr Ramey said. ‘But a centralised system that automates the implementation and administration of a compliance program can increase productivity and ultimately reduce cycles. This in turn will allow the department to focus on core business issues.’

Managing thrid-party risks

When asked about managing third-party risk as it relates to compliance, legal professionals indicated that preventing reputational damage to the organisation was one of their top priorities. ‘Legal teams often have final approval on the establishment of third-party partnerships,’ Mr Ramey said. ‘Given the potential financial and reputational risk, legal departments are right to require verification that third parties meet the same ethical and compliance standards of the hiring organisation.’

Other key findings

Other key findings include: 27 per cent of legal professionals identified records management as a top policy management challenge, compared with 16 per cent of respondents from other groups; Complying with laws and regulations was the top training objective (68 per cent) and creating a culture of ethics and respect was second (64 per cent). Legal respondents were largely in step with respondents in other departments on ranking training objectives. In addition, just 24 per cent of legal respondents said their organisations review third-party policies annually, compared with 41 per cent of respondents from non-legal functions. And finally, financial risk (77 per cent), complying with laws and regulations (55 per cent) and protecting an organisation from reputational risk (39 per cent) were the top three objectives for third-party programmes.

 
   
 
 
 

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