Risk Update

Risk-y Business (Development) — Evolving Views and Visions on Law Firm Risk + Business Development Collaboration

Why Savvy Law Firms Are Prioritizing Risk-Aware Business Development” —

  • “Rainmakers and business development directors will sometimes refer to risk and compliance departments as the place where new business goes to die.”
  • “In reality, the opposite is true: Information managed by Risk and Compliance teams can significantly enhance business development. But only if it’s integrated with other enterprise data and accessible during the business development process.”
  • “First, let’s start with an essential truth: Risk teams play a critical gate-keeping function, ensuring firms mitigate risk and remain compliant with client commitments when taking on new business. It’s an iron-clad law that new business flows through the new business acceptance process. That will always be the case.”
  • “After spending hours developing a relationship to land a new client, how often has the risk department told a lawyer that she needs to obtain a conflict waiver from another client? Or told her about a commitment made to another firm client that prevents her from taking on the new business? Or told her that members of her proposed client team are conflicted from working on the new matter? All these issues could be addressed earlier and more efficiently if Risk and Compliance information were integrated into the early-stage business development process.”
  • “Well-organized and tech-savvy law firms have already begun rethinking the relationship between BD and risk and compliance. BD teams and lawyers are starting to see the risk function less as traffic cops and more as BD collaborators. That means enlisting risk teams early in the BD process rather than waiting until the last minute.”
  • “These changes can do more than make the BD process smoother. They can make a firm more strategic and cohesive. When more people inside a firm have access to discrete risk-related information, there is a higher likelihood that the firm’s strategy will be carried out consistently. That includes ensuring business acceptance aligns with broader strategic priorities.”
  • “The time is ripe for more collaboration between risk and compliance and business development teams, and to adopt the appropriate technology to effectuate it. Law firms are complex organizations that are increasingly difficult to manage. The reputational, financial and legal risks of taking on the wrong kind of new business keep growing. The constant coming and going of lateral partners—who bring new clients, targets and commitments—has multiplied those risks. So has the rise of remote work, which places more importance on the use of technology, information-sharing and transparency.”
  • “Risk and compliance professionals have built-in motivation for sharing as much as possible. They often grouse about receiving loads of conflict checks with short deadlines. Many would prefer to move risk decisions and assessments upstream to relieve pressure downstream.”