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How General Counsels Benefit from Contract Life-Cycle Management

A Corporate Leadership Role

The modern role of a General Counsel (GC) is both as a corporate lawyer and a business executive. General Counsels are no longer limited to a reactive role overseeing litigation farmed out to law firms, but instead are key members of the corporate decision-making team. For many, they find the job unmatched within the legal profession, both from the demands placed on them and the rewards they receive. The job offers enormous opportunities for innovation, leadership and decision-making at the highest levels—especially as companies have gone global. Over the last 20 years the role and responsibilities of GCs have changed remarkably.

The Speed of Change

As the speed of change has accelerated and the breadth of responsibility has grown, the GCs of today must be equipped to respond immediately to corporate needs. When you need to manage risk and ensure compliance, the world moves very quickly. Heightened attention from shareholders, the public, and U.S. and foreign regulators means companies face unprecedented scrutiny of everything they do. Failure to comply with laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act—which makes it a crime for American companies and their subsidiaries to bribe foreign authorities—can lead to severe consequences, including fines and criminal penalties for board members and officers. With more aggressive regulatory enforcement, compliance and risk management have become a prime requirement of board oversight and GCs have become a key advisor to both CEOs and to Boards of Directors.

With such broad, diverse responsibilities, how do GCs manage to keep abreast of all of the areas for which they have oversight? Part of the answer is through adoption of highly effective tools that take the guesswork out of risk assessment and discovery/forensics, allowing insightful recommendations to be made quickly and effectively. This frees up bandwidth to deal with other pressing issues. One such tool that helps General Counsels to respond quickly is Contract Life-Cycle Management (CLM).

Enterprise Contract Reliance

Whether they are with customers, partners, suppliers, the military or government, contracts represent the life blood of any enterprise, large or small. Without a reliance on contracts, the predictability necessary to manage staffing commitments, make capital purchases and strategic plans and to report to shareholders with confidence all, but disappears. Despite this, the number of companies who misunderstand their liability exposure and are managing their contracts in uncontrolled ways is surprising. In certain cases this results from assumed ERP functionality that is minimally used, not used at all or incapable of accommodating a company’s unique business processes.

Enabling Smarter, Better and Faster Risk Management Decision Making

Three (3) Critical GC Responsibilities.

Understanding that a GC’s responsibilities include many areas that are potentially less predictive i.e. intellectual property, patent infringement, labor, employment law, etc. let’s look at 3 areas where GC’s have hug