Doug Conolly and Dan Moseley head up McQuarrie's Legal Ris Management Team PHOTOGRAPHY BY TANEANE TWELE
Legal Risk Mitigation can save you thousands
Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, Doug Conolly and Dan Moseley, partners in the commercial litigation group at McQuarrie, have lost count of the people who launch or expand a business—but haven’t assessed how it could leave them vulnerable to legal problems.
“It’s almost inevitable that down the road, we learn they’re embroiled in some kind of dispute—which in some cases goes to court and costs thousands of dollars,” Conolly says.
Moseley adds, “Employee termination and human rights issues are minefields, and such disputes can be particularly nasty—plus damaging to one’s reputation.”
Even though business owners risk legal exposure from contracts, partnership agreements, compliance, and a host of other elements, they generally consult a lawyer only after something has gone wrong or when liability or conflict is imminent.
That’s why McQuarrie has launched a new Legal Risk Mitigation (LRM) team, which spans multiple practice groups to provide a comprehensive view of one’s business.
One way this team works with clients is by conducting a risk audit that can uncover potential legal threats and formulate solutions. “An audit can be as simple as an hour-long conversation, if it’s the case of someone starting up a business,” says Moseley. “The process becomes more involved with established companies, but the point is by spending a few thousand dollars on this form of risk mitigation, you could be saving tens or hundreds of thousands in regulatory fees, contract expenses and legal fees.”
Even if a client already has a legal department, McQuarrie can work with a client’s in-house counsel to ensure the company is compliant and operating with lower risk. It does so by first identifying and quantifying the legal framework that applies to all business activities; then identifying non-compliance or risks and their potential impact; and finally applying policies, contract rewrites, consulting, and other strategies.
Conolly stresses that at its essence, risk mitigation is far simpler than one might think. “Our mantra at McQuarrie is, ‘Get it in writing’,” he says. “This may sound obvious to anyone who has entered into a business arrangement, but many partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, and other ventures are undertaken without the proper documentation.”
Even though the advantages of dealing with McQuarrie’s LRM team are numerous—including the fact that the Surrey-headquartered company is the largest full-service law firm outside of Vancouver—Moseley admits it’s still a challenge to persuade business owners to undertake risk mitigation when starting fresh or when everything is running as it should.
But he points out that no owner operates in a vacuum, and it’s incumbent on business owners to mitigate risks—for the sake of staff, directors, shareholders, and the health of the business itself.
“So I would urge entrepreneurs operating in any field, who haven’t already done so, to seek our advice before problems arise,” he says. And make risk mitigation an integral part of their business.