The General Counsel Report 2023
July 06, 2023DownloadsDownload Report
Risk is now at the centre of every conversation in the modern legal department. Over four consecutive years of study in the annual General Counsel Report, in-house counsel have expressed how they’ve been required to evolve and reinvent their roles. Once seen only as risk mitigators, they have become strategic business partners and have taken on an array of new responsibilities across a widening risk landscape. Discussion of these changes in the general counsel’s role has been a cornerstone throughout every edition of The General Counsel Report.
Today, the strain upon in-house legal departments has not abated. In fact, dozens of new and escalating pressure points are squeezing in-house counsel even further. Of the general counsel and chief legal officers surveyed in this year’s General Counsel Report, the vast majority said they are experiencing increased demand. Among those, 100% said they are experiencing increased workloads and burden across environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, business strategy, risk management, crisis and breach incident response, data privacy and compliance monitoring. Many other issues were listed by the majority of respondents as also driving increases in challenges and demands.
In a three-part series, The General Counsel Report 2023: Legal Departments Alleviate and Respond to Critical Pressure Points explores in-depth insights across major issues including:
- Increasing risk, demand and uncertainty: Pressure is increasing across nearly every legal function. One respondent said, “The general counsel is now more of a secretary of state for the CEO. There is a sense that a crisis can pop up in a geopolitical way that we [hadn’t thought] about.” More than three-quarters of respondents said they are experiencing a strain on legal department resources, budget and/or capacity.
- Legal departments become a hub for ESG and diversity: More than 50% of respondents ranked ESG as one of their top five legal risks. Some cited the fact that ESG is impacting the allocation of resources and that the general counsel is responsible for ensuring ESG coverage, consistency and compliance across the entire organisation. Many discussed their role, successes and challenges in driving forward diversity and other ESG-related initiatives.
- Flexibility, automation and specialisation have become integral to legal department success: Participants highlighted several ways that the Great Resignation has affected their law departments, ranging from flexibility and compensation to management styles and employee engagement. More than two-thirds said their organisation has specifically considered the role of automation and advanced technology in enabling a higher standard of professional quality of life to alleviate capacity demands and increase retention.