15 Sep 2022

In-house teams face twin challenge of increased workloads and managing risk, survey finds

More than two-thirds of legal leaders say tackling risk is a top strategic priority, according to LOD and SYKE

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In-house legal teams around the world are facing a twin challenge of managing risk while workloads continue to increase, according to a new survey from flexible resourcing business LOD and legaltech consultancy SYKE.

The ‘Risky Busyness’ report showed that more than two-thirds of legal leaders (68%) say their top strategic focus is ensuring risk is tackled appropriately, while 60% said they have to prioritise large volumes of work. That trend is reflected in the top four areas of investment that in-house teams are making: lawyers (66%), risk and compliance expertise (25%), self-serve tools (24%) and outsourcing workstreams (23%).

Tom Hartley, LOD group CEO, said: “Astute GCs are meeting this dual-pronged challenge by ensuring that their team’s service delivery is fit-for-purpose, not gold-plated. This isn’t to suggest the balancing act of mitigating risk and getting your work done is easy – it’s a tightrope that requires both legal and commercial experience to know where to focus your efforts.”

Given the increased workloads, legal leaders are also focused on what they can do to attract and retain staff amid tougher recruiting conditions. Some 51% of legal leaders said they need to provide career development and training opportunities for their teams, while 50% said they need to ensure work is allocated more effectively.

While 45% of respondents said their teams are highly valued by their wider organisations, that number was even higher for legal leaders with a clear tech strategy (55%) and leaders that use data to demonstrate their value (67%).

Hartley said: “Three hallmarks of a successful legal team emerge from this year’s survey: visibility, flexibility, and vision… This combination of characteristics creates a legal function that is agile, effective and able to prove its value to the business.”

The survey was based on responses from 169 legal, risk and compliance professionals, 75 of whom were legal leaders.

Another survey earlier this year from FTI Consulting found that general counsel are playing a larger role in managing technology strategies for their businesses even though only a third believe they have sufficient tech knowledge to manage advanced tech solutions. Meantime, a report from the Association of Corporate Counsel found that chief legal officers are taking on a broader set of responsibilities, including environmental, social and governance matters and public and corporate affairs.

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