Digital Technology and the Rise of General Counsel
The position of General Counsel is a normal part of business and government operations. In a corporate environment, the office of General Counsel is an executive office, occupied by a chief legal officer (CLO) who reports directly to the CEO. General Counsel in a government setting is subject to its own chain of command.
Despite plenty of history behind the General Counsel concept, things in the digital era are changing. We are now seeing the rise of a new kind of attorney who must do more than react when legal challenges arise. Today’s General Counsel has to be proactive. He or she has to pay attention to digital technology and the many pitfalls that come with it.
There is little doubt that digital technology has changed nearly every aspect of business. From mobile devices to applications in the cloud, we are living in a whole new world that looks nothing like what our grandparents knew nearly a century ago. A CLO who doesn’t understand the digital environment is one who is bound to find him/herself behind the times.
The On-Demand Economy
One of the many challenges companies now face is the on-demand economy. This is fairly new by comparison, and many companies still have not caught up. Large corporations are especially prone to falling behind because they are not agile enough to adapt to all the on-demand economy holds. That lack of agility goes all the way to the top, including the CLO’s office.
Competing in the on-demand economy has its own legal challenges. General Counsel is tasked with making sure the company adapts to the modern business environment while maintaining legal compliance. Doing so requires being proactive. General Counsel has to have a solid handle on the on-demand economy and its implications for the company. General Counsel needs to understand where the company is going as the on-demand economy moves forward.
Digital Rights Management
Another big area of concern is digital rights management (DRM). It is especially important for companies impacted by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in early 2019. The regulation impacts everything from contracts to marketing and data storage.
Once again, being proactive is critical for General Counsel. Before the company ever embarks on anything new, General Counsel needs to know if the GDPR is in play. And if so, strategies for dealing with it must be established before moving forward. Otherwise, the company could run afoul of the law and find itself facing stiff penalties.
Data is a Big Plus
It is clear that the rise of a new kind of General Counsel has been fueled by digital technology. So how does today’s CLO stay ahead of the game? The makers of the NuLaw legal case management application say it is all about data. The more data the CLO has access to, the better positioned he/she will be to do what needs to be done.
To that end, the company’s corporate legal department should be looking at every possible resource. Data can come from a myriad of channels. There are law books, case studies, law libraries, legislative libraries, and so forth. Best of all, almost all the data a corporate law department would need is accessible online.
The transition to digital technology is giving way to a new type of General Counsel. Today’s General Counsel does not simply react to legal challenges. He or she proactively works to guarantee that the company always remains in compliance. He or she guarantees that the company’s best interests are represented no matter what comes down the pike.