Gartner Top 3 Priorities for Legal and Compliance Leaders

Legal and compliance leaders in 2020 will aim to increase productivity, navigate uncertainty and manage third-party risk.

Better manage third-party risk. Operate more effectively in an uncertain risk environment. Leverage data and analytics to improve performance. Legal and compliance leaders will focus on these three priorities in coming months, according to the Gartner 2020 Legal and Compliance Agenda Poll.

Most departments view legal and compliance support as key to smart growth. They want to enable the business to balance risk with reward, and to modernize their own operations through process and technology improvements,” says Ross Gardiner, Director, Advisory, Gartner. “But we found a wide gap between the importance of initiatives and leaders’ confidence in their ability to solve them.” 

Understand the key priorities and know which actions to take to quickly and effectively deliver high-value guidance.

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Better manage third-party risk

Compliance and ethics officers rank the coordination of third-party risk management as the challenge they feel most ill-equipped to manage. Not only has the number of employed third parties increased, but the nature of third-party relationships and the way businesses are using third parties have changed.

Consider how to cross-functionally improve efficiency in managing third-party risks. For example, determine whether you can mitigate issues by appointing a project-based vendor relationship owner — one who has insight into third-party risks and can effectively monitor the project.

Read more: A Better Way to Manage Third-Party Risk

Operate despite uncertain risk 

Sixty-four percent of surveyed leaders say managing risks across fragmented jurisdictions and regulations will be important or extremely important in 2020 — yet only 15% feel highly prepared to do so.

Codifying issues as recurring, new or undefined can help legal departments speed up their responses while maintaining an acceptable level of organizational protection. Issues can be coded as:

  • Recurring: Will likely be faced again in the future, and require durable solutions that can be quickly addressed applied to multiple instances and drive consistency in department guidance. 
  • New: Faced by the department for the first time, but may also be issues on which legal department’s position is likely to change. 
  • Undefined: Not clearly defined by regulations, legislation or internal company policies. 

Both new and undefined issues require the department to pressure-test positions and ensure applicability and durability. This approach helps gain buy-in from the department on the final position and enables general counsel (GC) to connect to broader department and organizational strategy when necessary.

Learn more: Risk Management Strategies

Leverage data and analytics to improve performance

Data and analytics will be key to increasing productivity and demonstrating value. To align analytics opportunities, heads of legal and other senior operations leaders need to translate overall business goals into legal department objectives — and then determine the analytical information required to deliver against those objectives. 

For example, if legal commits to speeding up contract reviews to support the business goal of improving commercial performance, it will need data on key activities, such as the number of contracts reviewed per year or the clauses most frequently disputed or flagged for legal review. 

Focus on high-impact efforts that will deliver value to the business or relate directly to an immediate or long-term business objective. Some initiatives will yield quick wins, where information already exists or is easy to gather and analyze. Others will take significant effort, and could require new data and analytical processes, but will offer strategic value.

Attend webinar: Top Priorities for Legal and Compliance Leaders in 2020

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients. Gartner for Legal & Compliance Leaders clients can watch the webinar Top Priorities for Legal and Compliance Leaders in 2020.

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