Here’s to a disruptive 2016

Every year when we speak to in-house counsel for our View interview series, they inevitably talk about the growing complexity of regulatory demands, especially in sectors such as banking where doing business in multiple jurisdictions presents its own challenges. As Philip Moore of TD Bank told me: “We’re one bank, but we have very separate regulatory regimes in place.”

Added to that is the threat of “disrupters” to the financial industry such as mobile payment and digital wallet services such as Apple Pay — which is taking bites out of bits and pieces of the more lucrative areas of traditional banking business.

At an in-house panel in late October, Nikki Latta, associate general counsel of Deloitte Canada, agreed there are multiple pressures presented by various regulatory demands and various disrupters to businesses but said that for Deloitte’s legal department the focus is on providing “disruptive service” — understanding and managing for things no one thought about a year ago.

That thinking also fits in with TD’s “fitter and faster” that Moore speaks about in our story on page 21. The idea is to find ways to manage risk and react more responsively to all manner of challenges in order to stay competitive in today’s global landscape.

An emerging theme from all of these discussions, and from our past two Innovatio Awards programs, demonstrates that businesses are better equipped to handle new entrants and threats to their organizations when in-house counsel can serve as their own “disrupters” and find ways for the business to be more competitive.

Past winners of our Innovatio Awards have been those who haven’t waited for senior management to come ask them for something to help them solve a problem or make the company more agile; they have taken it upon themselves to come up with a solution to a hurdle they have identified. That can involve implementing technology to streamline a process or finding alternative service providers that are truly disrupters in their own right. In other cases, it’s merely about re-engineering a process internally and finding ways the legal department can play a role in cost recovery in areas such as litigation.

Nominations for our third annual Innovatio Awards are now open and will close Feb. 15. This year we have added the category of Law Department Leadership to honour those who consistently lead with an eye to innovating or disrupting the status quo. This can be someone who has, over time, created a team and a philosphy around how internal legal departments should operate, or it could be someone who has, on their own in a solo in-house role, found new ways to source services and deliver in a way that is efficient and innovative.

 We encourage you to visit the web site www.innovatio-awards.com to find nomination forms, read about, and view videos from past winners who our independent panel of judges decided were approaching the challenge of providing internal legal services in a new way.

We really want to hear about the innovative disrupters you work with.

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