Frank Maher: Firms Must Show They Are Innovating to Meet Changes in Advance

An interview with Frank Maher, partner at Legal Risk LLP

Ahead of the Risk Management and Compliance for Law Firms 2016 conference, Chair Frank Maher, outlines some of the most pressing issues facing firms' risk and compliance professionals and explains why this year's conference will provide a valuable environment for professionals looking to share ideas and solutions to the challenges the UK legal sector is facing.

1. Thank you once again for chairing the Risk Management and Compliance for Law Firms 2016 conference. 2016 has been a year of great change. What do you think are the most pressing issues affecting risk and compliance professionals right now?

* Increasing client demands through Outside Counsel Guidelines and onerous information security requirements

* The build up to the GDPR and Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive

* Cyber risk which has not gone away

* Pressure on resources with financial challenges for many from the possible effects of Brexit on the economy and, in many firms, reduced profit according to the PwC Law Firms Survey 2016 

* The need for internal audit which an increasing number of firms are addressing, but is still a weakness according to PwC

2. You'll be moderating Day 1's panel session at 11.30, discussing Brexit and its implications for law firms. How do you think many UK law firms will have reacted to the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union, and what can delegates expect to take away from the conference regarding their next steps?

There was a great deal of shock. As you can imagine, not many expected this result. Risk Management and Compliance for Law Firms 2016 is a space where larger firms can realise opportunities to advise on the issues brought about by Brexit, and for smaller firms, it's a chance to exchange ideas within  our community, gauge opinion and better prepare for change.

3. With regards to the UK's decision to leave the European Union and the level of uncertainty that comes with this, what can law firms do to reassure their clients right now?

Firms have to show they are not just reacting to changes but innovating to meet them in advance. A strong risk culture should focus on helping the business achieve its business objectives, and that involves working with clients to achieve their aims, avoiding a perception of business prevention.

4. Everyone in the legal community is talking about artificial intelligence (AI) it seems, including clients. Are there any particular types of technology that you have come across that can benefit risk and compliance professionals?

It is early days regarding this kind of technology but it won't surprise you to know that we are looking at the ways in which AI can help manage risk internally. Watch this space...

You can hear more Frank Maher on Day 1 and Day 2 of Risk Management and Compliance for Law Firms 2016 taking place on 6-7 December. Find out more about this event.