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How much time do CLOs spend on key tasks?

New research denotes the percentage of time chief legal officers are dedicating to specific duties, with notable differences emerging between those who report to the chief executive and those who don’t.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 02 February 2021 Corporate Counsel
How much time do CLOs spend on key tasks?
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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has released its 2021 Chief Legal Officers Survey, which received responses from 947 participants across 44 countries and 21 industries. The report, published in partnership with Exterro, showcased insights into the state of the corporate legal department, including organisational structure, pressing concerns for in-house lawyers, and trends of note following COVID-19.

As reported last week by Lawyers Weekly, the research found that one in three legal departments expect to hire more lawyers and other professionals in 2021, including departments that are intent on sending more work to law firms.


When asked how much time had been spent on six specific tasks over the past 12 months, the cumulative responses from CLOs were as follows: 28.1 per cent on providing legal advice, 18.2 per cent on managing legal risk, 14.8 per cent on managing the law department, 11.9 per cent on board matters and governance, 11.7 per cent on contributing to strategy development, and 11.6 per cent on advising executives on non-legal issues.

However, when broken down by those who report to the CEO and those who do not, some significant points of differentiation emerged.

Those who report directly to the CEO spend less time providing legal advice compared to those who do not (27.1 per cent versus 31.3 per cent), less time managing legal risk (17.8 per cent versus 19.7 per cent) as well as fewer hours managing the law department (14.2 per cent versus 17 per cent).

On the flip side, CLOs who report to the CEO spend more time than those who don’t on board matters and governance (12.3 per cent versus 10.4 per cent), more time contributing to strategy development (12.5 per cent versus 9.3 per cent) and even more time compared to their counterparts advising executives on non-legal issues (12.5 per cent versus 8.6 per cent).

The broad takeaway from such findings, ACC surmised, is that CLOs will spend more time on business strategy on the whole if they report directly to the CEO, whereas those who do not will spend slightly more time on legal matters.

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