Nobody plans to get into a supply chain-related legal dispute, and that might be exactly the problem, according to the new book Legal Blacksmith: How to Avoid and Defend Supply Chain Disputes. The book's authors argue that while some legal battles are inevitable, most could be avoided if more practitioners were better informed about the legal aspects of day-to-day supply chain management and created effective plans to prevent disputes from developing.
According to the authors, Legal Blacksmith has a dual focus: to teach attorneys about supply chain processes, and to teach supply chain professionals about the potential legal issues that could arise in their jobs. The authors themselves represent the two sides of this equation. Rosemary Coates, president of Blue Silk Consulting and the executive director of the Reshoring Institute, possesses more than 25 years of experience in supply chain, operations, and project management. Her co-author, Sarah Rathke, is an attorney and partner with Squire Patton Boggs, an international law firm that specializes in complex supply chain disputes, regulatory, and contracting issues.
The book begins with a look at the pre-contract planning phase, and then dives into how to draft and change a supply chain contract and resolve associated conflicts. It also covers different aspects of supply chain management, such as procurement, manufacturing, information technology, and warehousing and logistics, and there are chapters on recalls, warranties, and creating workable supply chain agreements. It concludes with best practices to employ once a dispute has arisen.
Each chapter introduces the practical business aspects of the topics under discussion and then explains the laws that govern them. Each one ends with a handy list of "lessons learned" that summarizes the authors' recommendations. For example, the section on warehousing suggests purchasing insurance for warehouse-related losses, ensuring compliance with the increasing number of regulations focused on warehouses and distribution centers, and being clear about who has title to any goods being entrusted to an outside service provider.
Legal Blacksmith flags important legal issues and encourages supply chain professionals to avoid supply chain disputes by understanding and planning for potential problems. It emphasizes that most supply chain-related legal disputes are rooted in poorly written contracts, poor communication with partners, and an inability to resolve conflicts. When supply chain contracts turn sour, the authors warn, the results can be catastrophic. It is not unusual, they argue, for damages to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This book can help practitioners ensure that their companies do not meet that fate.