The annual ‘Looking Glass’ survey undertaken by the global law firm in collaboration with professional network organisation Winmark takes in detailed responses from businesses’ in-house legal teams and boards, from the emergence of Covid-19 and through the pandemic’s progression. This gives a nuanced view of how the thinking within companies has changed over the last few months, and how approaches to risk management and general business practice has evolved.
With thousands of employees working from home, companies have had to adopt new technological practices with very little time to bed in or to properly risk assess. As a result, ‘technology risk’, ranked as the second highest concern for boards and general counsels in 2019, is now the top priority. And while a majority were happy with how quickly and efficiently businesses had taken to these new practices, 59 per cent said that there had been budgetary issues, 52 per cent said that they had found it difficult to know which technologies to prioritise, and 41 per cent said that they were concerned about a lack of specific knowledge in their individual departments for the technologies in question.
As well as these concerns, market and economic risks, organisational risk and political risk have also risen in the minds of boards and legal teams.
“[The pandemic] has had a profound impact across the business landscape with old certainties blown away overnight,” commented Peter Hirst, a senior partner at Clyde & Co. “One of the positives to have come out of this crisis has been the ability of so many organisations to rapidly adapt, not least by shifting to remote working models and adopting new technologies. But now that the immediate shift has taken place, risk management and mitigation must remain central considerations for boards and their general counsel as they seek to address the longer-term challenges and opportunities the pandemic has presented them with.”