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What’s the top priority for law departments this year?

New research from CLOC and ACC reveals what organisations worldwide see as being the top issue on their to-do lists in 2021.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 11 May 2021 Corporate Counsel
What’s the top priority for law departments this year?
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The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), together with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) (which acted as a research consultant), has released the 2021 CLOC State of the Industry report, for which they surveyed over 200 organisations across the globe, spanning over 22 industries in 21 countries. 

The breakdown of organisations surveyed was: 45 per cent large companies (more than US$10 billion), 31 per cent medium-sized companies ($1-$10 billion) and 24 per cent small companies (less than $1 billion). 

Top-ranked priority


Those surveyed were asked about the extent to which seven different issues were priorities for the law department and their organisations.

The results showed the implementing a diversity and inclusion program is the top-ranked issue in 2021, with more than six in 10 (61 per cent) of respondents viewing it as a high priority. Twenty-seven per cent of the balance of respondents see it as a medium priority, and 12 per cent see it as a low priority.

This outcome is especially interesting, given that in 2020, implementing such programs ranked as the fifth-most important priority among the seven available options. 

CLOC did not hypothesise as to why D&I has emerged as the most important priority for law departments, however, as Thomson Reuters Asia and Emerging Markets global strategic client director (legal professionals) Catherine Roberts discussed on a Lawyers Weekly live-streamed webcast last year, there is a strong business case for diversity with external providers. 

Other priorities for 2021

Automating legal processes and implementing new technological solutions remain key priorities for law departments, with 57 per cent and 54 per cent of respondents deeming them high priorities respectively. 

These figures are down from 71 per cent in 2020. Again, CLOC did not speculate as to why this might be the case, however given the rush towards technology in recent times – particularly in the wake of increased cyber-security concerns and then remote working in the age of coronavirus – it is possible that organisations see themselves as having ticked these boxes and can thus focus attention elsewhere.

Striking the right balance between keeping work in-house versus outsourcing it remains a high priority for 40 per cent of law departments, while just over one-quarter (27 per cent) see reviewing information and data governance as a high priority.

Increasing legal operations headcount is deemed a high priority by only 15 per cent of organisations worldwide, with more than two-thirds (66 per cent) seeing this as a low priority. 

Implementing an intern program was at the bottom of the totem pole, with no respondents seeing this as a high priority for 2021, while 82 per cent said it was a low priority.

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