14 November 2018 at 16:23 BST

Chief legal officers report higher expectations thrust on departments

Survey reflects challenges faced by law department leaders, as growing expectations create challenges and strategies.


Corporate chief executives expect their law department to be run like a business unit, according to the 2018 Altman Weil 19th annual Chief Legal Officer Survey, which reports challenges faced by in-house departments.

Facing challenges

The survey says these challenges are being tackled by developing a more robust in-house capability, restructuring department resources, becoming more sophisticated about which matters to outsource and which to manage internally, and pursuing greater efficiency and cost control.  Many are employing operations professionals with specialized expertise to assist in managing increasingly complex departments. Highlights from the survey include data that 42 per cent of law departments said they would increase their lawyer workforce in the next 12 months; 53 per cent increased their total spending from 2017 to 2018; 42 per cent increased outside counsel spend; 39 per cent have an administrator who manages law department operations; and, 31 per cent have shifted law firm work to lower-priced firms in 2018.

Higher expectations

Rees Morrison, Altman Weil principal and survey co-author, says ‘the imperative for change is being thrust upon chief legal officers by their organizations' higher expectations of performance.’ He explains, ‘in 2018, most departments are focusing on reallocating spend, rethinking the mix of internal and external resources, and implementing various process improvements.  Many are achieving good results from those efforts.’ The survey can be found here.


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