Companies face many kinds of legal risks on a regular basis, depending of course on the company and the industry involved. A problem with legal risk is that many risk experts tend to pigeonhole or categorize it as a small unique part of corporate risk or corporate governance when in fact it is present in many levels of an organization. Manufacturing companies, for instance, faces numerous legal risks, such as the ones listed below:
- Exposure from governmental noncompliance
- Immigration or visa issues
- FTC, CPSC, EPA, DOE issues
- Federal and state tax issues
- Litigation exposure
- Private lawsuits
- Product liability
- Collection claims
- Bankruptcy claims
- Collection-related lawsuits
- Credit claims
- Intellectual property
- Trade secret claims
- Patent infringement claims
- Copyright and trademark infringement claims
- Employee theft of IP
- FOSS issues
- Property issues
- Management of real estate leases
- Negotiation of real estate acquisitions
- Sale of property
- Government contract issues
- Employment/labor-related issues
- Insurance claims
The above-mentioned areas of legal risk can manifest in many ways. A merger/acquisition deal, if not properly handled, can result not only in litigation but contract claims, risky obligations, IP issues, assumption of liabilities not expected, regulatory issues, and other matters that follow with the sale of business such as tax, etc.
As you can see, there are many areas of legal risk that a company faces. Many of the risks mentioned above could result in significant legal exposure including class actions, fines and investigations. However, without conducting a legal risk audit, it will be difficult to identify the legal risks the company may face nor the probability of such a risk taking place. It is imperative that companies should begin 2014 with a robust legal risk management ( LRM) audit to identify all potential legal risks. Such and audit would also help companies implement sound and meaningful processes and procedures to minimize such risks. Failure to conduct a LRM Audit could have serious consequences. What will your company do in 2014?
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Make it a New Year’s Resolution- identify the legal risks facing your organization and implement sound strategies to control such risks!