Home / Industry insights / 2021 ACC NSW In-House Counsel Day Dovetail Summary

25th May 2021

2021 ACC NSW In-House Counsel Day Dovetail Summary

The Dovetail team, Andrew Murdoch, Charlotte McGrath and Charlie Smirl; were pleased to attend the NSW ACC In-House Counsel Day in Sydney on Thursday 20th May 2021.

The Dovetail team, Andrew Murdoch, Charlotte McGrath and Charlie Smirl; were pleased to attend the NSW ACC In-House Counsel Day in Sydney on Thursday 20th May 2021. Here is a summary of some key messages from the day:


Top Five Global Risks in 2021 and How They Impact In-house Lawyers

Cory Davie of Control Risks provided a list of the top five global risks in 2021, and how these geopolitical issues will impact legal counsels. So what are they?

  1. Long Covid – and its ongoing effects
  2. US/China – and the effects on the world including Australia’s relationship with China
  3. Go Green or Go Bust – OR get left behind
  4. Risk acceleration hits emerging threats – including the importance of cybersecurity and the emergence of ransomware
  5. Missing the rebound- The world is ever changing, and other countries are at differing stages within the pandemic, so be mindful of this and act accordingly.

A key takeaway was that In-house counsel have been the front and centre of the pandemic so let your voice be heard, and have your say for long-term success of the company.


Out of the Quicksand: Thriving for Corporate Counsel

Madeleine Shaw gave an insightful seminar giving some key tips on how lawyers can avoid feeling like they are sinking. We created a practical action plan in order to get back onto solid ground, and enable us to think creatively.

Six steps to ensure we can get back onto solid ground:

  1. Make yourself as light as possible – Let go of what is weighing you down
  2. Before you sink too deep, step back to where the ground was solid – strong relationships with friends and family or simply a filing system which worked for you
  3. Keep your head and arms above water – focus up on the solutions, and not down on the blame
  4. Reach for a branch or person’s hand – Help, helps
  5. Take slow, deep breaths – stay calm, your brain will work better
  6. Move slowly and deliberately – Small, experimental changes

Two key takeaways were to look at failures as opportunities and stop re-reading your emails AFTER you’ve sent them to check for typos – something we are all guilty of!


The future of flexible workplace arrangements

Michael Selinger of Holding Redlich provided an overview of key issues and complexities in relation to flexible working conditions

Safe to say, there has been a transition of views on different working arrangements… Businesses have had to adopt more flexible workplace arrangements during COVID, but that has created challenges for workers and businesses – especially with regards to whether the arrangements will be ongoing or were only intended to be temporary.

It is important to be mindful of productivity, safety and effectiveness with your flexible workplace arrangements. Requirements need to be considered across different areas including:

  • Fair Work Act
  • Safety while WFH
  • Management style and approach
  • Awards and EBAs
  • Support for staff
  • Worker aptitude and engagement
  • Unions
  • Mental wellbeing

Understandably, a key aspect for flexible work arrangements to be effective is the trust between employee and manager.


Silo Crashing: Successfully Partnering Across Your Business

Kate Jones of Samsung and George Papanikitas of Kimberley Clarke both spoke about various large and complex projects the business had undertaken and the role the in-house legal team had taken in the management of those projects.

Whether or not legal should manage the projects depends on several factors, the project, the business, the legal team and your personal desire and capability in managing the project. Are there other people in the business who would be more suited in running the project? Know your strengths and play to them.

It is imperative to know the business and have their confidence when undertaking a project and sometimes external project managers do not have or seek this knowledge.

Working for companies with headquarters outside Australia does complicate projects and brings with it different challenges, particularly when seeking decisions. Additionally, you will need to explain local laws to the people outside Australia making the decisions. However, it does also bring with it regional and global resources that can be utilised.

Technology can also be used to great advantage to help input and capture data and automatically populate templates. It is important that the technology be fit for purpose and takes into consideration the end user.


New to in-house – how to be an effective contributor to commercial conversations

Leanne Meyer of Omni Bridgeway and Amy Spira of Domain facilitated a positive session for lawyers who are either new to in-house or taking up a role in a new area within in-house.

The discussion covered the importance of upskilling and being proactive about your development within the business. Some recommendations included:

  1. Be interested and ask questions about your business and the industry
  2. Develop broad business skills and improve your understanding of financial statements and business metrics
  3. Understand what the business is trying to achieve and what key drivers may be for different business areas
  4. Invest in relationships across the business

A key takeaway was to be solutions-focused, know your business and always look to add value.


Eyes on the post-COVID horizon: Foreign Bribery changes are headed our way: What are they, why they matter and how we prepare for them?

Mark Pulvirenti of FTI Consulting, spoke about why It is imperative that we are aware of anti-bribery provisions. Investigations are costly in terms of time and money. Recently the Australian Federal Police have been relying on false accounting provisions rather than bribery provisions because it is easier to prove.

The AFP do an excellent job but are under resourced, they police many functions and staff are moved around which means that investigations can be lengthy and messy.

There is now personal jeopardy and gaol terms are now being used for breaches.

What to watch out for:- Do you sell to governments? This can include state owned enterprises like hospitals and the doctors can be considered government employees for the purposes of bribery.

Need to be careful when making corporate acquisitions, what are their bribery liabilities of the company, what anti bribery measures do they have in place, what is their culture and who are their customers.

It is not enough to simply have some training and a whistle-blower hotline. The program needs to be tailored and updated regularly. It needs to be well communicated internally and to external third parties. The communication should come from the top. It should be monitored and controls in place including audits and triage. What due diligence do you have? A lot has to do with the culture of the organisation.

Changes are coming to the laws – be aware of them.

Finally, have a plan to deal with bribery if it does occur – it will make it a lot easier to deal with it, should it happen.


Sole Legal Officer – Juggling an overwhelming workload when you’re the only legal officer

An excellent round table discussion about the importance of prioritising workload and maintaining balance. Melissa Le Clerc from DestinationNSW was joined by Carolyn Aldous from Peerpoint, Justin Moses from AIME Mentoring for this session on juggling your workload.

Some useful tips included:

  • Acknowledge there will often be competing priorities from different stakeholders and everyone will most likely say that their particular matter is the highest priority. So you need to be prepared to provide clear parameters for the business and communicate effectively with key stakeholders.
  • Your own wellness is important, maintain a healthy awareness of your own life/work balance and don’t hide a resourcing issue. You won’t be doing yourself or your business any favours if you just end up burning out or quitting.


Ethical Sustainability

Bernard Lankes of Gartner led a panel discussion with Anna Sutton of Syngenta and Keith Rovers of MinterEllison about in-house lawyers moving beyond covering legal compliance to also influencing ethical decisions on sustainability issues.

The presentation walked through practical considerations – in essence, providing guidance on “how to avoid the bad and promote the good” and also covered an ethical sustainability hierarchy of intent which stepped up through levels:

Ethical Sustainability

Anna Sutton also spoke about her own experiences at Syngenta, including examples such as Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan initiative originally launched in 2013 and also a practical example of the business making a decision taking the ethical path over and above the mere compliance path.

Winning Champagne

Congratulations also to Yolanda Kuruc of Healthdirect for winning the bottle of Veuve from our Dovetail business card draw!

Thank you

Thanks to all attendees that made the day such a success and to the ACC Team for putting on such an informative and well organised event.