Canadian Lawyer InHouse

September/October 2019

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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36 www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse EXERTING INFLUENCE and relinquishing control seem to be concepts at odds with each other, but they're both approaches Ben Westelman is taking to position himself and his department and his legal colleagues as business leaders. Westelman, who works at Kijiji Canada Ltd., (which is part of eBay Classifieds Group) and holds the title of director and head of le- gal, eBay Classifieds Group (eCG), Canada, U.K., Northwest Europe and Australia, is the compa- ny's first Canada-based general counsel, and his influence certainly extends beyond the country's borders. He is not only a member of eCG Canada's Claiming a seat at the table Kijiji's technology simplifies access to legal tools and further drives operational efficiencies effectively, the hospital decided to implement an online system that would allow the roughly 900 scientists and physicians who are part of the medical team to submit information about their relationships, for the legal and compliance team to review, manage and store. Since many of the medical experts who worked out of SickKids or who had privileges at the hospital also had similar arrangements with other health-care facilities in the Toronto area, Lawrence reached out to her colleagues at the Uni- versity of Toronto and the hospitals that are mem- bers of TAHSN (Baycrest Health Sciences, Hol- land Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Sinai Health System, Unity Health Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University Health Network and Women's College Hospital) to see if they wanted to work together on a common solution that would allow the medical expert to submit a single relationship disclosure form that would be available across the network. Lawrence says she consulted with experts at U.S. hospitals who work in relationship man- agement and disclosure software (U.S. laws mandate that physicians disclose their industry relationships), but since TAHSN already had one common IT platform in place (known as CMaRS) designed to handle physician reappointments to the members hospitals, it made sense to build the relationship disclosures and management system on that same platform. "We looked at systems that [American hos- pitals] bought off the shelf, and we decided to make our own because we thought there would be a value in a built-in-Canada system that really reflected our unique needs. In particular, in To- ronto our medical academic community is very interconnected, and there would be much more appetite for hospitals and the medical commu- nity to be grouped together, as opposed to the U.S., which seemed a bit more siloed," says Lawrence. Between getting the TAHSN members to agree to common requirements and policies regarding relationship management disclosure and coding the application, the project took two years. But even though it is up and running and medical professionals are using it to disclose their industry relationships, it still isn't com- pleted. Now, Lawrence says, there is interest in adding additional automated management and reporting functions to the system. At this stage, it is making a difference in how Lawrence and her team do their jobs. She says feedback from medical staff is that the system is user friendly, even in light of them being required to submit more detailed information about their industry relationships. Because the users are finding the system easy to use, Lawrence says, disclosure and compliance rates are better. The extra information is also useful to the compliance team, which is able to better understand the re- lationships and better able to assist the medical personnel in managing those relationships. It has also changed the way the legal and compliance team works. "We had staff who were spending their time processing the data and doing manual workflows. Now, we are spending time advising on relationship management and having the system do all of the manual workflow so we can really focus on providing advice and helping people comply and helping them manage their relationships, which is how we want to focus our attention," she says. Taking the opportunity to work with other in-house counsel at different organizations is definitely something Lawrence recommends. "You can learn to take a broader lens to collab- oration. You can collaborate with colleagues in your organization as in-house counsel — you can often collaborate with other legal compliance profession- als, you can collaborate with other business units. But in our instance, we actually collaborated with other organizations in the same sector, and I think the value of collaboration is invaluable. You can get efficiencies, you can pool resources. "As a compliance professional, when you're instituting a policy, you are looking for ways to help your organization do the right thing. And when you do it together, in this instance, with a number of organizations, you're actually helping the sector do the right thing." While there are no definitive plans to offer the relationship and disclosure management system for sale to other organizations, Lawrence is open to the idea. "There are two parts of it: our policy and our best practice, as well as their system. I think they go hand in hand. I think the Toronto hospital community has decided to take on this rela- tionship management journey. We've definitely Ben Westelman, director, head of legal INNOVATIO learned from U.S. institutions that do the same thing, and I think it'd be something we want to share with other Canadian academic health communities and encourage them to do that, and share our best practices, both the policy and the system we developed to enable us to meet that policy standard."

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