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Corporate Law Departments Must Adapt and Respond to Demonstrate Value in Complex Environment

Need to build diverse teams, embrace innovation and enhance project management skills, according to the “State of Corporate Law Departments Report”

Dallas and London, March 14, 2019 - Corporate law departments need to have the right teams in place, be willing to embrace innovation and improve collaboration with external stakeholders in an ever-changing market and to deliver value for their organization. These are among key findings from the “2019 State of Corporate Law Departments: Improving the Impact of Legal Services,” a new comprehensive report from Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Acritas.

The report analyzed research from Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, Acritas, the International Bar Association and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

Among the key findings of the study, in-house legal departments need to:

  • Build Diverse Teams:  Legal teams (both in-house and external) need to increase their demographic diversity, which is consistently shown to result in higher performance ratings. As the report notes, only 29 percent of legal departments have formal diversity programs, while both law firms and corporate law departments continue to under-represent female talent at the most senior levels. In-house counsel can play an important role in helping increase diversity at outside law firms and within their own teams by encouraging firms to have a measurable diversity initiative and by implementing these same requirements within their department.
  • Embrace Innovation:  Legal departments that embrace technology, overhaul work processes and pricing models and build collaborative partnerships with external law firms and alternative legal service providers achieve higher performance rankings. Since most in-house lawyers are time-strapped, it is important for them to research, pilot and implement innovative solutions. Creating legal operations positions can help with this process, yet only 50 percent of law departments employ legal operations professionals.
  • Enhance Project Management Skills:  Forty-one percent of the lawyers hired by corporate law departments felt the in-house team could benefit from effective project management training. Project management skills noted included: internal organization, coordination and efficiency. Additionally, law firms noted that stand-out corporate law departments provided comprehensive briefings with clear objectives, scope and expectations.
  • Find New Ways to Demonstrate Value:  Law departments need to prove their value beyond simple cost savings, such as measuring and demonstrating their value in terms of business benefit and averted risk. In addition, they need to show how they are delivering results more effectively and efficiently. This is especially true as legal teams struggle to comply and stay current with evolving data privacy regulations. According to the Thomson Reuters Survey on Data Privacy Compliance, nearly half of organizations surveyed globally (44 percent) say they are not meeting the data privacy regulations, while 64 percent of U.S. organizations fail to meet these standards.

“2019 State of Corporate Law Departments: Improving the Impact of Legal Services” can be downloaded here.

Jenn Riggle
Thomson Reuters

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