10 October 2018

Report highlights counsel under pressure to manage efficiencies.

New study examines legal departments making the most of their resources, especially in terms of keeping work in-house.

Corporate legal departments are being asked to do more than ever, without expanding the tools or headcount at their disposal, according to a new study from Thomson Reuters.

Under pressure

The 2018 Thomson Reuters corporate legal department efficiency report states there is pressure to do more with less or the same amount of resources as before, get quick wins which leads to inefficiencies, lack of clarity, and an increased reliance on outside counsel. Insights are presented to aid corporate counsel to make the most of the resources available to them, like keeping work in-house for transactional matters in M&A, intellectual property, and litigation, implement measures to increase productivity, and, confront the ups and downs of partnering with outside counsel. Thomson Reuters conducted a survey of 462 attorneys and decision makers working in corporate legal departments in the UK. The 2018 survey is the third in a series of Thomson Reuters corporate legal department efficiency reports, intended to identify and track trends in managing internal and external resources as well as adapting to business growth and needs.

Driving efficiencies

This year’s survey uncovered developing trends shaping how departments are driving efficiencies and maximizing stagnating resources despite increased demands on their time. One such trend just emerging during the last survey shows general counsel are increasingly expected to serve as business advisors in addition to providing legal advice; their expanded role means general counsel are more involved across the organization, with particular emphasis placed on board of director and leadership guidance and advising, alongside expanded business duties. Legal department trends continue to show general counsel and their teams facing growing demands and increased expectations, such as the role of general counsel expanding to business advisor and ever-changing government regulations, making it increasingly difficult for in-house leaders to deal with inefficiencies, such as a budget stress, staffing levels, and dependence on outside counsel. Chris Maguire, managing director of the US Corporate segment for Thomson Reuters Legal, says ‘one trend continuing to shape legal departments through each survey is how general counsel are increasingly expected to serve as business advisers in addition to providing legal advice,’ adding ‘general counsel are becoming more involved across their organizations, particularly in terms of advising the board of directors and business leadership.’ The report can be downloaded here.