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GCs 'concerned about compliance'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 04/02/14

A new survey from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has highlighted some of the major concerns facing in-house lawyers as we move into 2014. Not on a personal level, because for all its prestige the ACC does not have the power to scrutinise the hopes and dreams of legal experts across the globe.

However, it can provide some insight into how the working environment is likely to change for corporate counsel over the coming 12 months as their role continues to develop.

The survey incorporates the views of 1,200 individuals from all around the world, with ethics and compliance the most commonly-cited issue among all respondents.

Regulatory changes and the increasing pressure on maintaining information security were also highlighted as major parts of the in-house role, the ACC found.

Veta T Richardson, president of the organisation, said that ethics and compliance are not solely the preserve of legal officers - directors, presidents and other senior executives are also conscious of the need to keep their business on an even keel when it comes to avoiding scandals in this area.

With consumers increasingly clued-in when it comes to ethical concerns and the global media placing a great deal of scrutiny on corporate behaviour, there is very little leeway for companies in this area.

"Businesses globally are recognising how vital it is to ensure their top priority is abiding by ever more complex regulations," she declared.

Chief legal officers (CLOs) are also trying their best to keep on top of expenses as they face demands for stronger efficiency, the report found.

"In order to remain effective, general counsel are triaging legal expenditures and applying more approaches, leading to better overall law department management," added Ms Richardson.

Hiring patterns are unlikely to change in any significant way over the course of the year, although new positions could be created in areas such as compliance, intellectual property, contracts and risk management. More than a third of CLOs are planning to open up new jobs in compliance in order to keep track of regulatory changes and avoid falling foul of the law, the ACC found.