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The Imperatives of Integrating Innovation
South Jersey’s rapidly evolving industries make it an exciting time for the region’s business world. But as regulations evolve and their accompanying landscape adapts to those changes, it can also become daunting to navigate without the right legal advice.

by Carly Murray

Whether it’s recognizing how societal expectations affect a company’s public image, updating workplace policies, implementing new technologies or expanding into new regional markets, staying on the right side of both specific regulations and the law in general is crucial. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources—and experts—available to guide local businesses through legally adopting those changes.


Legal & Social Safeguarding

Staying up to date on the legalities of the business world is pertinent in case of a problem, and research should be conducted before an issue erupts so it is handled with grace and sensitivity. That preparation can include formulating a plan to deal with any number of “What if” scenarios, like keeping accurate records and having approved scripts, action plans and course corrections ready to be deployed.

In the event of anything from bad PR to bad luck, it’s important to not exacerbate the issue with an understandably but harmfully emotional, impromptu reaction being the first impression your company makes in the aftermath. Furthermore, the court of public opinion can cause additional damage to an organization’s local standing, as many consumers increasingly value working with companies reflecting compatible standpoints.

Customers are the lifeblood of a business, and they’ve come to expect a degree of human opinions from traditionally faceless organizations. With the additional ability to review products and services online, a bad reputation can deter other customers before they even formulate their own firsthand opinion. Worse yet, a negative experience at a local business that receives viral traction online might create an even wider-spread issue that can throw off even the most well-prepared team. Whether it escalates to a legal situation or not, it is important to know how to respond to criticism without heightening the stakes, and instead prioritizing the urgency to issue genuine apologies. In such divisive times with passionate emotions running high, it can be difficult to remain professional, which is why it’s important to make sure your entire staff understands the legal ramifications of even one person speaking out of turn as a self-proclaimed inside expert.


Technological Advancements

Modern technology is a double-edged sword, as it can lead a business to thrive or to crumble. A tool like artificial intelligence (AI), which seems to be gaining in popularity every day, can add to a company’s efficiency—but can also elicit disapproval if used to the detriment of employees to replace jobs. Once again, this can be avoided by surveying the social landscape, as the recent writers’ and actors’ strikes happened for this very reason. Regardless of a company’s field, these expectations are now paralleled universally.

“Gov. Phil Murphy—in his State of the State address on Jan. 9—announced the creation of a task force to spearhead generative AI growth and leadership in New Jersey. Clearly, the state is ideally suited to be a leader in generative AI in many business areas and particularly for the legal industry,” says Timothy F. McGoughran, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

While AI can save the time and energy of responding to customer inquiries, as they’ve come to expect prompt responses, a lack of a human reaction when a grievance is aired can result in frustration or the loss of a customer. Finding that perfect balance between progressive technological and humanistic implements are key to long-lasting success.

“As with any AI technology, humans are always needed on the other end to interpret the data and make decisions. The key is marrying the human element with the artificial one,” McGoughran continues.


Regional Expansion

New Jersey is home to several nascent industries taking shape and evolving with new ideas and practices: The recreational cannabis industry, for example, has grown rapidly despite being all-new territory for the state, with many involved in the industry facing new challenges that yielded as-of-yet untested solutions before the sector as a whole formulated a standard response. It’s also a sector that often works in tandem with experts from other industries, such as medical, legal, and even culinary professionals as it expands to other consumption options. As a still-federally-illegal industry, both industry insiders and outside experts are making cannabis law an increasingly in-demand facet of New Jersey’s legal landscape.

Regardless of niche or industry, it is essential to know that every element is subject to constant change and adaptation, both positive and negative. It is no secret that it takes initiative as well as luck to ensure the success of a business—but having a trusted legal expert to turn to in challenging times can be the advantage a company needs to overcome those hurdles and come back stronger than ever.

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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 14, Issue 1 (January 2024).

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