Remaining Confident In The Face Of Change: Practical Law

June 14, 2017

The changes in regulatory and enforcement priorities usually brought with each new incoming presidential administration can signal a time of confusion and delays as new federal authorities — from cabinet members down to front-line regulators — step in, assess the landscape, and start about their work.

But what does that mean to certain industries and the legal counsel and law firms that advise those industries?

Further, given the focus on deregulation and rule easement already voiced by the new administration of President Donald Trump, the regulatory shift this time around may be greater than any time in recent history.

“I think the transition from the Obama administration to a Trump administration is probably more significant and is likely to have a greater impact than potentially ever before,” says Scott Mason, a senior policy advisor with the Public Policy & Regulation Group in Holland & Knight’s Washington, D.C., office, who focuses primarily on the intersection between Capitol Hill and the White House on major policy initiatives and other key priorities. (Mason was also a member of Trump’s transition team.)

Mason spoke to Practical Law about how this shifting landscape for regulations and federal rules may impact law firms and leave them scrambling for ways they can benefit in the current environment. And one area that is really going to feel that change is regulation, Mason adds.

“I think some of the things Trump has proposed has changed the tone already,” he notes. “For example, you’ve seen that, under Trump’s order, that for every new regulation imposed, you’ve got to take out two. Then also, he assigned to each of the Cabinet secretaries a 90-day window for them to, quite frankly, summarize the lists of regulations in their agencies that they are working on or would like to eventually do away with, and then report back to him on it. That’s a significant change.”

Indeed, Practical Law’s attributes take on more importance in today’s turbulent and fast-moving legal environment, where change may be the only constant. As the pressures grow greater on lawyers to address the needs of their clients in a timely, less expensive, and more encompassing way, certain practice areas — such as Capital Markets and Corporate Governance, Finance, or Intellectual Property and Technology — are themselves changing dramatically as well.

Mason further suggests the changing regulatory environment could be a boom for some law firms, but only if they are ready for it and have access to the tools that let them take advantage of such opportunities. “Larger law firms that have significantly built-up policy shops are in an extraordinary position to benefit because they allow firms to broaden their ability to service their customers, all of whom are going to be impacted by government in some way, shape, or form,” he explains. “And these public policy shops work hand-in-hand with a law firm’s lawyers, looking for opportunities to better serve clients.”

That means being able to leverage the legal acumen needed through products like Practical Law is even more important during uncertain times such as these. And given these opportunities for the fleet-footed, law firms must ask themselves, what do we need to access so we are in the best position to ensure success for our clients?

Being able to answer that question is key to operating in the legal market with confidence, says Josias “Joe” Dewey, a financial services and real estate attorney who is the practice group leader of Holland & Knight’s Miami Real Estate Practice Group. (He is also considered one of the foremost thought leaders on blockchain technology.)

“It’s a differentiator — it really is,” Dewey says of Practical Law. “It’s targeted specifically to be a practical resource that allows a lawyer to leverage Practical Law’s legal know-how to improve the work product and give the client a better result in the end.”

Of course, the best way to serve your clients is to make sure you know what is happening in impacted industries, such as healthcare, banking, or taxation that will be undergoing a lot of regulatory upheaval in the coming months and years. “It gets back to the old adage,” Mason says. “If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.”

Dewey agrees and discusses how, in these uncertain times, it’s even more important to have resources and research that you can trust to be up-to-date, timely, and pertinent to your task at hand. Being a financial services and real estate lawyer, Dewey says his practice is naturally “heavily document-oriented” and his use of Practical Law legal know-how really helps him stay on top of things.

Dewey says he primarily uses Practical Law in his document creation work; for example, to help him articulate a provision in a contract he wants to explain further. Practical Law annotated Standard Documents and Clauses are especially valuable to him in his work and even are a source of continual surprise. “Even after 19 years, it seems that every time I use [Practical Law], I learn something new from the materials.”

Further, the Practical Law search mechanics are so easy that Dewey has little trouble finding a pertinent example of the provision he is looking for in another contract to see how it is adapted there, he says, adding that the Practical Law drafting notes and negotiation tips are so good that “my end product is always much better.”

Practical Law gives Dewey something he says is very valuable in daily practice management: Confidence. “Because of the quality materials and the ease of which I can use them, it makes me more confident in the work product I am producing for the client,” he explains. “If you don’t have this kind of confidence in your research and materials, it can really bog you down in your work, because you’re second-guessing every little thing and hours are wasted.”

For Holland & Knight’s associates, Practical Law offers another benefit: Education. “Given our business constraints and the efficiencies we want to implement, to be able to use this product to help our associates reach a baseline of needed knowledge is incredibly important,” Dewey notes. And the associates themselves have really taken to Practical Law Checklists that allow them to tick off necessary items, tasks, or approvals in the contracting process, he adds. “Yes, they get very used to those checklists!”

With a team of over 230 attorney editors, Practical Law creates of standard documents, checklists, legal updates, how-to guides, and more. Holland & Knight attorneys — like many of the 85% of Am Law 200 firms that subscribe to Practical Law — use this maintained and trusted legal know-how offering to practice more efficiently and add more value for clients in an ever-changing legal landscape.

Visit us here to learn how Practical Law can help you stay up-to-date on regulatory changes in the current legal environment.

This article originally appeared on Above The Law.