Takeaways from Ascent 2017 Conference – Atlanta

I had the pleasure of attending the Ascent 2017 Conference in Atlanta, on invitation from Sloane Perras, Chief Legal Officer for The Krystal Co. & On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and one of the conference organizers.  The conference was a great success and brought together more women in-house and outside counsel at one time than any other event I’ve attended.  A few points I took away:

  1. Pay equity, diversity, and social awareness are all being embraced by many large companies, with the view that those policies raise all boats.  These companies are using their leverage to encourage adoption of these initiatives by their vendors and outside counsel.
  2. To be a successful partner as outside counsel, we must understand the client’s business above all else: the financials, the product lines, the risk factors, and the business objectives.  Both inside and outside counsel must find and capture the tone that will speak to the decision-makers while uncovering any blind spots or potential liabilities not considered.
  3. Data breaches remain front of mind for many.  The alphabet soup of regulations, laws, and governing watch-bodies that might be implicated in any given industry continues to grow.  Class action lawyers stand at the ready to push the bounds of what constitutes damages.
  4. Leaders must create a culture of compliance.  The risks of not doing so far outweigh the costs.
  5. Finally, when pushing for change, leaders must be unafraid and confident in their decisions.  Innovation must be balanced with risk management; if you understand the core of the problem and have a vision for moving forward, you can convince stakeholders change is necessary.
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