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Looking for innovation? Ask your lawyer

October 22, 2009: 11:00 AM ET

Legal departments turn to technology to handle an onslaught of regulatory requests

By Aaref Hilaly , president and CEO, Clearwell Systems

Hilaly: Law departments need tech to meet new demands on their resources.

Hilaly: Lawyers need tech to meet fresh regulatory demands Photo: Clearwell Systems

Have some sympathy for your corporate legal department – it's facing the perfect storm.

Like everyone else this year, the legal department is required to cut its budget, in some cases by 20% or more. But unlike other departments, legal faces a greatly increased workload. It's not so much because of litigation, although there continues to be no shortage of that. Rather, it's because of a regulatory crackdown that goes far beyond the financial services industry.

The increase in regulatory activity has come in three broad areas. First, many of our public company clients are seeing far more regulatory inquiries than in prior years. These cause havoc for legal departments because the information requests are often broad and with very tight deadlines. For example, one of our technology clients recently received a request from the Security and Exchange Commission for "all information pertaining to executive compensation since 1992" – and was given five days to provide it. More

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