After Brexit Vote, Corporate Legal Chiefs Prepare for What’s Next
This is an adaptation of my “Global In-House” column which appeared in American Lawyer Media’s Corporate Counsel late last week. Thank you to the international corporate legal/compliance leaders who commented. It’s sobering to imagine the impact to both the UK and Europe as the world’s fifth largest economy (according to BBC) separates from the European Union. Just before the vote, I talked with several General Counsels with companies that may be affected. Given the uncertainty about the vote, most had done little. Answers were similar to this from the regional legal chief of a Fortune 50 company: “So far I’ve not done much about a possible Brexit, short of informing management of legal consequences in the short to mid-term.”
Keep your eyes and ears focused
Last Friday morning NY-time the Europe, Middle East, Africa GC of an international financial services institution emailed me: “As of today, the biggest activity is within asset management. The legal division remains calm, and the cross-function teams (which were already in place) now know that there is a busy period to come and we have time to get organized. Our eyes and ears will remain focused on UK movements but I do not expect any panic…”
Nearly everyone I spoke to just before the vote felt it was too early to tell what the implications would be after news of the vote’s outcome. There was wide consensus that the UK’s process of repealing EU-legislation and regulation would take far more than two years.
Practice your skills at balancing emotional with rational
With so many questions unanswered, the de-stabilizing effect of last week’s vote is both unnerving and distracting for all of us, including corporate executives and stakeholders. The good news: In-house legal leaders have learned to balance emotional with rational. You know how to stay calm and extend that calm to others. For those of you in a company or personal situation likely to be highly affected by Brexit, this will be a good test of your abilities.
Over the last year, I’ve noticed that in-house legal and compliance counsel increasingly emphasize the need to keep up with political, social and economic trends in their organizations’ markets. For in-house counsel in businesses with European coverage, your horizon-gazing skills will be in great demand in the coming months.
Give insights combining information, inside knowledge and outside awareness
Law firms are already sharing useful information on processes and scenarios. While the info is helpful, using it wisely is what matters. In-house counsel will need to combine info and forecasts with deep knowledge of your company and its core markets to provide insights that can help guide your organization through important decisions and their implementation.
Corporate leaders and stakeholders will appreciate your insights to help them correctly identify key issues to deal with now and those that can wait. In-house counsel will be a valuable resource to help your organization respond and prepare for what is undeniably a constant in our global economy: change.
This original article can be found at www.corpcounsel.com