Applying risk tools to a strategic technology plan

Methods and mechanisms for identifying, quantifying, tracking and mitigating risk differ widely amongst law departments.

In last month’s column, I discussed how to apply analytics to a Strategic Technology Plan. This month I discuss the next layer of technology planning—addressing risk. Risk management is top of mind for most legal leadership teams these days. However, the methods and mechanisms for identifying, quantifying, tracking and mitigating risk differ widely amongst law departments.  

While all law departments must consider legal risk, the level of formality in the process varies. Further, risk management can mean many different things to different departments. As law departments define the role and function of the legal team in the risk management process, the department may broaden its definition of risk management to include a wide variety of regulatory, business and other types of risk management activities. Following are some examples of how law departments have characterized risk and used technology to formally manage it:

4. Business Risk: While most business units have the primary responsibility for identifying and mitigating business risks, some law departments play active roles in supporting business units in this capacity. For example, contract management tools are an excellent mechanism for supporting the legal team to routinize low risk contract creation and review processes as well as help to the business to monitor contractual obligations. Intellectual Property Asset Management tools can reduce risk by helping to track IP dockets. Many legal practice-specific tools incorporate features for managing risk associated with the legal process in that particular area.

5. Operational & Internal Risk: There are yet an extensive set of internal and operational activities for which a legal team may hold itself accountable. Records management is one of the most common processes in which legal is often involved and for which there are a variety of tools available for managing and disposing of physical and electronic records. Another example is that law departments often take on the role of enforcing corporate policies and procedures.  These manifest themselves in both tools for communicating policies as well as tools for gathering acknowledgements of policy receipt and review.

Contributing Author

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Rebecca Thorkildsen

Rebecca Thorkildsen is a director of legal solutions with Pangea3. Leveraging more than 17 years of experience consulting to the legal industry on technology, management...

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