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Think Global, Act Local: Part One

By Jack Thompson posted 04-01-2020 13:24


Challenges in managing a global law department:

Law Departments, which function as business units for global organizations (i.e. function globally as well as operationally in more than one country), are wrought with challenges arising from international laws, local laws, support differentials locally versus company wide, and limitations imposed due to geographic/political/social business environments. 

Examples of key challenges law departments face:

  • The concept of privacy rules on a per country basis as well as continental basis where laws are favorable for protection but not for legal priority (i.e. GDPR and processing of data in litigation or PRC privacy laws complexing protections).
  • Rules concerning investment and contracting within Latin America – support of contractual bases with local and country laws for benefits.
  • Issuing information governance rules, applicable to one county’s laws to another country with an operationalization plan which will be compliant and effective.

What are the processes and technologies that can be optimized globally while allowing for country specific variations?

Process adaptations and usage of technology to implement such adaptations are consistently being created and utilized by law departments in global capacities.  A challenge in this area is the makers of technology to adapt to global client demands and how best to capture specific global client requirements while keeping an agnostic platform with an easy configuration ability rather than customizing on a per client basis.  Where law departments are focusing their attention is to adapt an existing process to the limitations and constraints of a configurable system without paying for additional customization from a tech provider.

One example is the ability to issue a legal hold and collection request from one country to another and operationalize the processes involved with privacy restrictions and preservation language.  A key technology used is a legal hold and implementation deployment SaaS based solution which is accessible globally and adaptable for legal business specific purposes (Zapproved, Exterro, Relativity are leading companies in the capacity).  Augmentation of process to technology can be introducing a hybrid notification addressing preservation requests with appropriate global language or issuing a separate collection notification as an Information Disclosure regarding transfer rights of a processor through a unified legal hold platform. 

The technology is agnostic in workflow execution however the disclosure is templatized based on which situation is appropriate.  For example, a legal hold being issued from the US to custodians in the EU, will contain language addressing specific rationales and instructions for privacy expectations of EU citizens in the face of US litigation; such language is built into a template library through the legal hold application, and is used when there is cross-border needs for a legal hold.  Challenged faced and met by the law department by adapting current workflows to technology capabilities by designing a process which works for the business and compliance perspectives.

What are some best practices to allow local transactions in a country specific language while allowing global visibility to documents and matters? 

Local vs. Global is, by definition, a challenge when addressing priorities of business demands as well as what local legal priorities are.  For example, a global operation for transaction documents may be required to be all in English, however local jurisdictional requirements for legal filings at a government office may require the native language (such as Portuguese for Brazilian offices). 

Local vs. Global challenges such as this are remediated through reporting structures with law departments.  Best practice is to design a workflow appropriate to fulfill the direct local/regional requirements (i.e. transaction documents to the government office in Brazil in Portuguese) with the understanding this transaction is either part of other documents which impact a larger transaction within a global program – the transaction is for a global investment in Brazil from a US based company; the workflow to file the government office docs is satisfied and retained in the project document management system or referenceable in the organizations contract management document repository in for the project. 

Coding for such documents is critical to discern what is local and what is global as it relates to the program the law department is addressing.  Best practice advice is to structure document architecture based on global demands of a program first, then crate local level reference points.  Ideally there is a master system which administers all demands; however, this is often not the case.  Therefore, operationally the law department legal operations function is responsible for  advising on workflow set up and structure to ensure all visibility is available.

1 comment



04-13-2020 10:03

Please enjoy the part two version of this topic from Sabrina Faleiro and Ricardo Dalmaso Marques.