The fourth annual survey of global in-house teams by LOD and SYKE, who have recently been acquired by Consilio, reveals that staff retention and morale is the number one emerging issue for legal leaders worldwide.
Buoyant labour markets and a lack of career development and training opportunities are fuelling this trend, compounded by an intensifying battle for in-house counsel to balance proactivity and strategic work with constant firefighting.
The global survey of 332 legal, risk and compliance professionals finds that toughening economic conditions, shrinking budgets, and increasing regulatory workloads, are reducing some in-house teams to the role of first responders, with 44% of legal leaders citing a lack of time to plan for the future. The report also finds that legal leaders’ number one strategic challenge is “prioritising large volumes of work” and that approximately 40% of in-house lawyers are “busier as the legal team has less budget for outside counsel”. The up-tick in regulatory work is partly due to a heightened focus on ESG-related issues.
While these findings are familiar, the report identifies several new trends, which present a contemporary picture of how in-house teams are looking to drive greater efficiencies to combat this highly pressurised environment:
- Investment: “Outsourcing workstreams” has risen from fourth to the second largest investment area by in-house leaders. Lawyers remain the largest investment areas.
- Use of data and tech: 38% increase in leaders who agree or strongly agree that they use data to boost value. Further, a greater than 20% year-on-year increase in those who have or are developing an informal tech strategy.
- Operational efficiency: 33% of in-house leaders cite “ensuring operational efficiency” as a key strategic challenge.
- Approach to AI: 61% of in-house leaders are focused on learning about the possibilities of AI but have no definitive action.
Simon Harper, LOD Co-Founder, comments: “Whilst a tendency towards firefighting seems built into our nature as lawyers, we’re seeing in-house leaders very keen to make time in their day for the most important and not just the most urgent. This isn’t just good for strategy, it also alleviates the intertwined issues of staff morale and retention.
“As clearer and more pragmatic AI solutions are rolled out over the next twelve months, we also expect to see an accelerated shift from reflection to action. Scalable applications will be a key tool for legal leaders and their teams to step above the firefighting challenge.”
Click here to read the report
- In-House Leaders Most Concerned About Retention, Morale(Law360)
- ‘Constant firefighting’ a reality for many in-house teams (Lawyers Weekly)
- Are in-house teams feeling valued? (Lawyers Weekly)
- The Corporate Counsel Show: Lessons from ‘constant firefighting’ (Lawyers Weekly)
- The global state of in-house legal teams in 2023: a struggle against reactivity (Lexology)
- Crisis among In-House Lawyers: Time to think Long-term (Ed Fennell Legal Diary)
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