More than 40% of corporate legal departments said the biggest benefit of increased efficiency is being able to focus more on strategic work, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters, which also indicates that many companies are increasingly seeking legal department operations (LDO) professionals to help them with what is being seen as overburdening administrative work.
The report, Thomson Reuters 2016 Legal Department In-Sourcing and Efficiency Report: The Keys to a More Effective Legal Department, shows a corporate legal environment that is “settling in” to once radical changes such as increased headcount and more work being done in-house. With much of that change coming in the years right after the financial crisis began in 2008, legal departments are now beginning to acclimate those changes, adapting to new technologies and outsourcing the more mundane legal work to free up in-house counsel to advise the company more strategically.
The report, conducted for a second consecutive year, surveyed 429 attorneys and operational professionals working in corporate legal departments and examines how in-house teams are managing internal and external resources to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. “As expected, we continued to hear that corporate legal departments are doing more with less,” said Mark Haddad, vice president of the Corporate segment for Thomson Reuters. “In-house teams are still dealing with the larger market changes that occurred following the 2008 global economic meltdown, and the survey uncovered how some in-house leaders are adjusting to these shifts: hiring legal department operations professionals to act as their change agents.”
Indeed, the report reveals that more companies are hiring LDO professionals in response to a backlash against the time-consuming administrative work facing corporate legal departments — much of it the operational activities that come with being part of a corporation. “LDOs are managing outside counsel and employing legal managed services providers, as well as identifying and deploying new technologies across the legal department,” explained Haddad.
The report also highlights general counsels’ awareness of the need for greater innovation to improve efficiency and productivity, assessing how in-house teams are introducing efficiencies within their legal departments and further redefining the in-house/outside counsel relationship.
You can download the full report here.