As we kick off 2023, we wanted to share some of the insights and learnings we’ve had from speaking with our Legal network about trends that are key to them and helping to shape the workplace and beyond. For example, in-house legal teams or law firms will continue to strive for cost reductions, improved efficiency, and freeing up lawyers' time. Political instability, looming recessions, energy crises, and high-profile data breaches contribute to this.
This is the hottest topic and isn’t expected to change in 2023. We see large companies having their reputations tarnished and facing hefty fines across the globe when it comes to data breaches. As per IBM Security's "The Cost of a Data Breach Report," the average global cost of a data breach rose 2.6% to USD 4.35 million in 2022 - the highest ever.
Further investments in Legal technology are expected to improve the management of cyber incidents. Continuing to be hypervigilant about securing information transmission, storing documents, and maintaining cyber-safe work practices will be critical for legal departments and in-house law firms. More and more legal teams are getting more adept at these issues and responding to crises, and it is not just the Tech Companies.
Even more traditional industries like Corporate Real Estate are evolving; Christopher Y. Chan recently joined Jones Lang LaSalle as their APAC General Counsel in 2022 and has signed up 10 of his attorneys and 20 across the globe to take the IAPP CIPP/E exam to help the teams upskill and better issue spot. It’s been an oversubscribed program internally and something to help the individuals and the team adapt to the changing legal landscape. To walk the talk, Chris has already passed the exam before asking his team to do so. He’s no stranger to these issues coming from the Tech sector and has previously managed some high-profile data incidents.
2. Digital Transformation
The relationship between law and technology has changed with a constantly evolving political landscape, turbulent markets, constant economic questions, and a post-pandemic legacy. In-house legal teams are becoming more familiar with virtual tools, hybrid working, and digital fluency. Wolters Kluwer reports, "64% of professionals in corporate legal and 63% in law firms plan to increase their investment in legal software in the next 12 months."
General Counsels have adopted automation as a contract management tool to boost productivity, compliance, and overall governance. In addition, there are multiple areas where technology is at the forefront of improving how legal departments spend their time and resources, such as reporting, risk management, litigation, etc.
Not all legal tech has to be complicated. Many GCs are now looking at simple tools to adapt internally. Some can be integrated into existing APIs and Contact and Contract Management Systems. As another example, JLL recognized that something as simple as incorporating www.onenda.org could save the team hundreds of hours. As a result, they have developed an automation tool that allows the business to generate and sign standard templates without negotiation. Many such adaptations are simple ways teams can take baby steps on the journey.
3. General Counsels Evolve into Strategic Roles
When the general counsel has a seat at the table, it shows that the organization has a compliance culture; it also signifies that management wants their senior lawyer to be involved in key strategic decisions.
Since public trust in companies is waning and regulators are stepping up their scrutiny, in-house lawyers have a more critical role. They enable General Counsels to take a more strategic part and influence decision-making. Companies need to embed this trust throughout the organization and work with the board in an advisory role, along with contributing to broader corporate governance topics, such as ESG concerns, employment matters, business operations, and cybersecurity.
Surprisingly, not all General Counsels have seats at the table. When interviewing for GC roles, this should be a required question. If the answer is “no,” then it is up to that candidate to request an opportunity to show why this strategic function should have a voice. Only then are they an impact-maker for the rest of the legal and corporate functions.
4. Boosting Operations
To maintain the increasing importance of legal operations to facilitate digital transformation, we see organizations moving beyond hiring a single Legal Operations Officer to implement entire teams. Having supported the hiring of entire in-house teams, it’s a clear trend that will continue this year for companies to drive efficiencies and improvements.
As new technology emerges to assist legal teams in reducing risk, hitting targets, and saving money, productivity is likely the principal driver of industry trends this year and beyond.
With research indicating that legal departments will increase their legal technology spending threefold by 2025, tools that improve the efficiency in the delivery of legal services will lead from the front.
If you’re considering building your Legal and Compliance teams to drive your company’s ambitions this year, or if you have any questions regarding our hiring expertise within this space, get in touch with our Singapore-based Director, EC Chua: firstname.lastname@example.org.