The global nature of law is constantly evolving, and it’s critically important that companies stay abreast of any changes to ensure sound compliance with complex laws. That’s where GCG comes in.
The company has provided legal administrative services for more than thirty years. Its primary service areas include: class action settlement administrations, restructuring and bankruptcy matters, mass tort settlement programs, regulatory settlements, and data breach response programs.
Currently, GCG is in the middle of expanding its programs and services internationally to maintain its status as a leading legal services provider on the forefront of changes in markets. The company is already relatively mature in class action law markets, such as in Canada and Australia, as well as markets where new class action-related statutes have passed in recent years, such as the United Kingdom and Japan.
Leading this immense effort is Scott D. Nader, executive vice president and general counsel at GCG. Nader has been instrumental to GCG’s expansion efforts. Leveraging two decades of experience advising organizations and holding leadership roles in the military, Nader applies his expertise by managing GCG’s legal team in the analysis of evolving international law, critical data, privacy, and administrative requirements across various jurisdictions.
“The majority of the time, the mechanics of identifying, communicating with, or distributing money to claimants is fairly uniform,” Nader says.“The challenge isn’t usually on the operational side. It’s understanding the legal nuances of each jurisdiction and the particular case we are handling for our client.”
A major international issue that GCG’s legal department is focused on is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is set to take effect in May 2018. By formalizing previously informal data security and privacy best practices, the GDPR institutes stiff penalties for improper management of personal data, or maintaining identifiable information about EU citizens longer than necessary.
The GDPR also represents the challenges of successfully complying with the ever-changing rules of the cross-border digital world. To ensure compliance, companies involved in international interactions must adhere to the most stringent requirements from the involved jurisdictions.
The digital environment has not only expanded the role of GCG’s legal department, but it has also necessitated ongoing and active participation from the company’s operations, IT, HR, and finance functions to ensure appropriate data stewardship.
“Compliance is not an option. The consequences of falling short of compliance regulations raise huge practical concerns, like how and where we store data, what privacy statements we need to send out, etc.,” Nader explains. “As a result, we partner closely with operations and the rest of the business to ensure we stay within all applicable rules and regulations.”
To help support its growing international activities, GCG recently merged its capabilities with the oldest and foremost Canadian class-action administrator, which had been operating separately under the umbrella of GCG’s parent company, Crawford, since class-action law came into existence in Canada. Together, the companies now operate as GCG, providing service to clients on both sides of the border.
“This operational synergy creates a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” Nader says. “We have a much broader range of expertise under one roof that can not only be applied to emerging international venues, but also to an increasingly large number of matters that arise from the volume of business between the US and Canada—two of the world’s largest trading partners.”
Along those same lines, GCG is also able to leverage the capabilities of other organizations within the Crawford family to solve client problems. Nader points to a recent product recall project, where GCG was able to work seamlessly with Broadspire, Crawford’s global third-party claims and medical management administrator; Crawford’s traditional field adjusting staff for insurance claims; and WeGoLook, a recent acquisition that uses an Uber-type network of personnel to help handle field inspections and product transfer logistics.
To illustrate the complexity of managing international claims, Nader refers to a recent settlement administration in which some of the claimants were located in Crimea. Those claims required GCG to navigate requirements set by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which prohibits payments to certain countries and specified individuals. Before making payments, claimants must be rigorously vetted to confirm whether they are the individuals targeted by OFAC or if they reside in jurisdictions that are subject to OFAC’s sanctions.
“This is one example of the legal and compliance work that must be performed on the cases we handle,” Nader says. “Each administration must adhere to the specific details agreed to by all parties involved in the settlement agreement, including how unpaid, unclaimed, or unpayable funds are to be managed, as well as the court orders, the laws of the US, and often the laws of other jurisdictions. This requires a strong team, clear protocols, and close coordination.”
Although many clients are aware of the legal aspects of the company’s work, Nader points out that GCG also handles cases outside of purely legal settlements—such as data breach responses and product recalls—for which GCG provides a range of back-office solutions, including call centers, printed mailings, and data management. In such scenarios, GCG leverages its experience and expertise to help clients respond quickly and responsibly to ongoing events. By doing so, those companies are able to reassure and support their customers and can often address issues before they escalate to the point of requiring legal settlements.
Much of this work is serviced by GCG’s staff, which includes more than one hundred lawyers who work in various departments throughout the company. Although they do not practice law, their training and background will often enable them to identify and address issues before they require oversight from the legal team.
“Proactively implementing best practices, coordinating with operations and other functions, and establishing escalation protocols allows the business to address and respond to problems they can handle and then involve the legal department in complex scenarios that require specialized attention,” Nader explains. “It’s an effective model that works well here at GCG because of the quality of our people.”
Scott Nader was one of the first to recognize the need for project management in the practice of law. Scott saw our LPM solution, BakerManage, as an innovation and collaborated with Baker Donelson to implement BakerManage to improve collaboration between attorneys and clients and ultimately reduce legal spend. www.bakerdonelsonlpm.com
Perkins Coie is proud to support Scott Nader of the Garden City Group. As a full service law firm with more than one thousand lawyers in nineteen offices across the United States and Asia, we provide legal services to a range of clients, from Fortune fifty companies to start-ups and other organizations.
Photo: Brett S. Deutsch