In our inaugural interview of Corporate Counsel Insights, we spoke with the Global Head of Disputes and Government Investigations at Standard Chartered Bank, Scott Corrigan. Standard Chartered is a multinational bank, operating in over 50 markets throughout the world. 


Corporate Counsel Insights is an interview series featuring conversations with leading general counsel and in-house lawyers. The series provides an inside look at the role of modern legal departments and shares insights from prominent general counsel and in-house experts.

To watch the full interview with Scott, click here.

Question 1: There's a lot of things that probably keep you awake at night. What tops your list of worries in today's operating environment?

There are a lot of items that are priorities. However, if I have to pick one, it's data and data management. The first step is identifying and inventorying all of our business data. We then must be able to access that data promptly and completely. It’s imperative that we use our data in a responsible way, in terms of customer privacy and the way the data is used. Equally as critical, is complying with the data privacy laws in the various jurisdictions in which we operate.

There's also the question of protecting our data. We're in an environment where hacking and cyber-attacks on corporations, including banks, is ever escalating. Our ability to protect our data is paramount. This can be a challenge, given the bank has hundreds of thousands of different types of clients operating across different jurisdictions. We might have a global multinational client who we're banking with in many different jurisdictions. And then that spans down to an individual retail client who we're banking only in a particular market, and who may have a checking and savings account with us. So, it varies across the board in terms of size and touch points.

Question 2: How have technological advances changed your role as a senior legal executive?

Today, whenever there's a discussion of technology, the elephant in the room is artificial intelligence (AI). While at this point, artificial intelligence hasn't greatly changed the role of the in-house lawyer, I think we're on the cusp of seeing big changes for in-house legal departments in several ways. One way is the discussion about cost. A big part of the budget that lawyers manage in-house is the cost of outside counsel. The press and others are reporting that with AI, a lot of the legal tasks that are performed by human beings right now, who bill for that time, will be performed by AI. In the first instance, I think it's incumbent upon all in-house legal departments to figure out how they can effectively use AI and if it can be used effectively to manage outside legal costs because management is going to ask for that.

Another challenge we face with AI is knowing who will be managing the data that's put into a particular tool that's being utilized by either external counsel or in-house counsel. Currently, AI can be used effectively in a number of ways. One way is in due diligence when there's a defined data set and that defined data set is run through AI. However, this may not be the case if the data set is uncontrolled. For example, if a law firm asks ChatGPT to write a brief to be filed in court, and ChatGPT uses an uncontrolled data set, it runs the risk of hallucinating and making things up. AI is going to change the way we operate and manage our matters but, we'll need to figure out where it can be used correctly and effectively, where it shouldn't be used, and where it will be perilous to use it. A big question that arises in that context is what kind of data is being fed into the AI, and understanding why it provides the answer it does. In-house legal must be able to succinctly explain to multiple stakeholders, in-house management, regulators, counterparties, and others why we're getting the answer that we're getting, especially if we're using artificial intelligence.

My team is not currently using AI. I mentioned the ability of using AI to contain costs; in other words, we would use it to contain the amount of billings that we get from external counsel. That is an opportunity that in-house lawyers are going to be exploring quickly. In litigation and government investigations, we've already been experimenting with the precursor to AI for many, many years. And that's the use of programs to do first level document review. We're using tools that have preset parameters and then a preset source of data to generate what are the relevant and responsive documents in a very large data set. I will continue to use that, and I anticipate that we'll be using AI in that space to provide more precise and faster outcomes.

 Question 3: What are the largest challenges in today's regulatory environment?

[Regarding data], the biggest challenges we face are in regimes where individuals have the right to request and obtain their data. In most circumstances, we have to produce that data to the client, which goes back to my earlier point about being able to identify, inventory, and access our data in order to respond to those requests either directly to clients, regulators or other counterparties who have the ability to request and lawfully obtain data from us.

Question 4: What's the most challenging jurisdiction that you're operating in?

From a regulatory perspective, the United States is the most challenging jurisdiction for a bank and financial institution, for several reasons. One reason is the number of different banking regulators that play in the US financial services field. There are multiple banking regulators at the federal level. Then if you have a State Charter, and Standard Chartered has multiple state licenses in the US, you also have to deal with multiple state banking regulators. There are also what I term specialist regulators, such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and others. There are also multiple regulators that are in what I'd call the security space, the two big federal ones are the Securities Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission. The sheer number of regulatory agencies that exist in the US for financial services institutions presents a great challenge. For example, when we have parallel proceedings, generally in the US, it's typically two or more regulators that we're dealing with, which can be a challenge. I'm not complaining about this; this is the way we operate in the US as do many other financial services institutions.

Additionally, when something occurs that we want to tell our regulator, we first need to identify the right regulators to tell.  Generally, in the US, the first instance for us would be our prudential banking regulators, the Federal Reserve and for our New York branch the New York State Department of Financial Services. However, depending upon the issue, there are other regulators and potentially prosecutors who we will have to tell as well. We also have our Prudential Banking Regulator in the UK and our Conduct Regulator in the UK. And, depending upon the type of issue and if it's cross border, involving multiple jurisdictions, we have to think about notifying regulators outside of the US and the UK. We are a regulated industry. We have the good fortune of being able to have a license to engage in banking but with that privilege comes responsibility. It’s our responsibility to identify, and effectively communicate, with the correct regulators.

Question 5: Fun personal question—what's the best book that you've read recently?

The best book that I've read recently is not necessarily a fun book, but it was very interesting and entertaining—The Wager by David Grant. This is a non-fiction account about a 18th century British warship that shipwrecked on a small island off the coast of Patagonia. Without spoiling it for everyone, it's a tale of survival and not everyone survives. I've never faced anything in my career as stressful as being stranded on a foreboding island. The book is instructive in showing how people act in stressful situations, and how leaders lead in stressful situations. While I can't apply directly what occurs in the book into my day-to-day work routine, I can learn from it in terms of leading a team in a stressful situation, which we do face occasionally in the work that I do.