ACC highlights this is the age of the chief legal officer

Regulatory issues, privacy laws and disruptive technologies expand stature of CLOs and affect 2019 business plans, says ACC report.


Feedback from 1,639 chief legal officers in 55 countries reveals compelling evidence that sustainability, disruptive technologies, privacy laws, data security, and protecting a brand’s reputation are among the issues expanding the influence and prestige of the clo in companies around the globe.

Direct reports

The proportion of chief legal officers who report directly to the chief executive officer (ceo) has jumped from 64 percent to 78 percent, according to the 2019 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) chief legal officers survey. A leap of 14 points in one year in this critical CLO reporting metric demonstrates that ‘the age of the chief legal officer” is established, and on a strong foundation. The 2019 survey shows that chief legal officers are assuming positions of greater power and influence within their enterprises, and taking on roles beyond that of technical legal adviser. Nearly 70 percent indicate that the executive team almost always seeks their input on business decisions. Last year, that level was 11 percentage points lower. Veta T Richardson, president and ceo of ACC, says ‘from sustainability to data protection, the issues pressing on businesses are growing in urgency and complexity.’

Data breach concern

Ms Richardson said, ‘this year’s survey leaves no doubt that we are experiencing the age of the clo, and that companies are awakening to the significant role their clo can and should play.’ The report also asks which issues are most concerning, with just over two-thirds of those surveyed saying data breaches will be extremely or very important in 2019, followed
by regulatory or governmental changes, information privacy, and technology developments. Meanwhile, the top issues affecting their companies’ business decisions in the year ahead are new regulations, brand reputation issues, disruptive technology, and mergers and acquisitions. The survey can be found here.

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