Insights/22 Dec 2014

Lawyers dig deeper in corporate responsibility

Lawyers cannot cling to the law books anymore. They must immerse themselves in their client’s business and be able to advice on concerns such as corporate responsibility.

Text Pete Santos
Images Shutterstock, Borenius

BORENIUS FINLAND - "It is becoming a new standard for business law advice to also understand the corporate responsibility dimensions of what we advise on", says Casper Herler, partner and head of the environment and infrastructure practice at Borenius.

The formal legal point of view is a thing of the past. In many fields of business lawyers should, by default, also take into account the clients’ relations with stakeholders, media, as well as governmental and political actors when providing advice and action points to clients.

Smarter dialogue

"The general business environment is changing by putting more emphasis on corporate responsibility. There is no longer one function to take care of corporate responsibility. The current trend appears to be to integrate this perspective into all functions", relays Herler.

At Borenius, the corporate responsibility approach is integrated into legal advice. Along with tax planning and employment issues, Borenius’ care for companies active in fields where environment and natural resources are in focus are a good example of how communication works alongside legal advice.

"This relates to projects where we offer strategic project planning; how stakeholder communication will work, at what point in time, and by what means companies should engage stakeholders. All this pertains to how non-governmental organizations and various other actors can be put into that dialogue."

Insight into the client’s business

It is crucial for the lawyer to discern the client’s operations to great extent, and understand their policies and the internal corporate culture to evaluate what advice is needed. This of course requires continuous and close relationship with the client in order to work.

Clients may ask themselves, why would they need a lawyer to provide advice on corporate responsibility? There is a bottom line to this posed question.

"At Borenius, we have lawyers who specialize in different fields and who engage in corporate responsibility related issues in the context of those fields. That experience helps us as advisors to perceive a variety of possible approaches and alternative solutions", Herler responds.

Read more on the upcoming law changes concerning corporate responsibility in feature article Scrupulous Transparency

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