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Why does the role of legal now incorporate compliance and risk management?

In recent years, one of the most noticeable trends when recruiting at a GC level is the increased focus on compliance and risk management matters.

Why is this?
Organisations are operating in an ever increasing global environment. This, coupled with an increase in legislation, regulation and regulatory activity has meant that more and more organisations are looking to their lawyers to help manage this risk.

Are some sectors affected more than others?
Of course some sectors are more heavily regulated than others but we haven’t witnessed recruitment growth within specific sectors. We have found most growth is within organisations undertaking business globally – particularly within the emerging markets.

What does this mean for recruitment?
The role of an in-house lawyer has always been to assist with managing risk. However, with increasing legislation and regulation the role of an in-house lawyer is evolving. Organisations are turning to their lawyers to devise and embed risk and compliance programmes that comply with legislation and regulation across multiple jurisdictions. For many lawyers, this is a new skill set and one that they are having to learn as a part of their role. However, for organisations looking to recruit a lawyer to focus on compliance it is a difficult task – especially in the regions.

Why is it difficult to find people?
Part of the reason is that this is a relatively new and evolving area of law and there are few lawyers with experience of devising and implementing robust compliance programmes – especially on a global scale. Organisations therefore have to look at individuals from a more general corporate or commercial background who have the desire and aptitude to undertake such a role. This, in turn, leads to what we find to be the main issue around recruitment in the compliance arena i.e. lawyers not wanting to focus on what they perceive to be a narrow and somewhat dry area of law.

Is this perception right?
Absolutely not! In-house counsel with responsibility for compliance are often responsible for some of the most delicate and tricky issues affecting a business and work as a true business partner. Such lawyers are at the forefront of an emerging area of law, setting standards and leading business integrity. For any lawyer considering a compliance role I would encourage them to read our interview with Jo Morgan, Group Chief Compliance Officer when she was at IMI PLC (she is now with Rolls Royce).

For more information please contact Ruth Taylor or visit our website BCL Legal.

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