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CLOs continue to become increasingly valued for their strategic advice

Posted by: Laurence Simons 29/11/16
Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) report that their departments are most valued for their ability to advise the CEO and corporate board, support the organisation’s business objectives and manage legal risk according to Altman Weil’s ‘Chief Legal Officer Survey 2016’. The concerns outlined in the survey also sit in line with those shared by many in the profession, with CLOs raising concern over persistent cost pressures, the lack of innovation in service delivery by law firms, and the retirement of senior lawyers.

Cost pressures remain a principal concern for CLOs, encompassing both internal budget constraints and outside counsel fees. According to the survey, the number one tactic used by law firms to address the crisis is increasing efficiency - often by either embracing technology, restructuring or reorganizing internal resources.

It is clear that the C-suite is coming to value the strategic advice of its CLOs and understand the benefits of increasing the in-house team. According to the study, in the next twelve months, four times as many law departments plan to add in-house lawyers as those planning to make cuts to legal staff, continuing a seven-year survey trend in which increases exceed decreases many times over. The same pattern of more increases than decreases is also planned for contract lawyers, paralegals and support staff in law departments.

According to the study from 2015 to 2016, half of law departments increased their internal budgets, while just over a quarter decreased in-house spend. This is the seventh year in a row that the survey has found about twice as many departments increasing internal spend compared to those decreasing the internal budget. While for outside counsel budgets from 2015 to 2016, 41% of law departments decreased their spend, compared to 32% of law departments which made increases.
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