The Evolution and Development of the Corporate General Counsel

05 June 2019

Corporate General Counsel
Corporate general counsel are increasingly seeking multi-disciplinary legal services providers to help them better meet their clients’ needs. What do these changes mean for the sector?

 

Efficiency driving change

 

There is a drive to make the role of the general counsel more efficient, as companies face financial pressures, and resources have become more limited – the often used ‘more for less’ mantra. This also places pressure on the GC to make more strategic buying decisions. As a result, we have seen a growing recognition by GCs to utilise legal operations and process improvement advisors and consultants to help them achieve that efficiency. Firms, particularly those within BigLaw, have sought to adjust to this new buying environment by adopting pricing strategies to more effectively meet the needs and demands of their clients.

 

The value of multi-disciplinary solutions providers

 

The importance of technology cannot be underestimated as a component of change in the legal services industry either. Legal operations professionals are now helping GCs do more with less, save time, maximise resources, balance work and leisure – all which help to increase morale and productivity. Taken together, these initiatives also help a corporate general counsel better demonstrate the value they provide to the companies they serve. GCs who ignore driving value for their internal clients are doing a disservice to their clients as advisors and business partners.

A recent study about the global legal services market by Deloitte identifies that in-house teams are now ‘looking for tech savvy, integrated services providers who offer more than traditional legal advice’. Deloitte sees the legal market expanding in areas including regulatory compliance, M&A and litigation – while at the same time, there’s a greater willingness by GCs to purchase legal services from a range of professional services providers.

In particular, the study outlined: ‘Conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. The majority of participants in the study (legal counsel, GC – or CEOs and CFOs) have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers.’ Deloitte also noted that a majority of in-house counsel expect technology to replace some of their tasks in the future. Hence, GCs say they’d like to have more relevant technologies for use on shared or integrated platforms.

One-third of in-house counsel, as Deloitte details, ‘want legal services providers to bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not. They also want law firms to be more savvy on global data and cyber security protection issues and more proactive in sharing knowledge across many jurisdictions. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area.’

And vitally, as the report concluded: ‘52% of in-house legal departments are considering buying legal services from non-traditional law firms.’

 

Rewards for entrepreneurial solutions providers

 

As we know, the legal market is in a state of significant flux. The GC roles is changing – and their needs from external advisors diversifying and deepening. That’s why we see an increasing role to play by a nimble, entrepreneurial outside legal sector seeking to serve the GCs as effectively as possible. No longer a one-size-fits-all market – instead a variety of business models, pricing, talent and technology options appear to be the ascendant means by which to most effectively help the general counsel drive their companies to thrive and prosper.

This post was originally published by Titus Rahiri on the KorumLegal Forum.

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