A US-based study from Deloitte says that legal counsel taking on too much administrative work is a key challenge for law departments moving forward, however there are emerging opportunities as well.
Deloitte recently undertook a survey of 81 companies, over three months and across five industries – its 2021 State of Legal Operations Survey – exploring what is top of mind for legal departments across the US.
GCs participating in the survey were able to select from the 12 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) core competencies to better understand where they stack up against an industry standard maturity model. Many chose more than one and 22 per cent selected them all.
Firm and vendor management (80 per cent) and technology (74 per cent) were the most chosen competencies, while financial management (65 per cent), strategic planning (65 per cent), and project/program management (64 per cent) are other key areas of interest.
The challenge facing law departments, Deloitte surmised, is that they continue to struggle right-sizing and right-sourcing work, “with attorneys taking on too much administrative work”. Sixty-nine per cent feel that their counsel are taking on more admin work than they should be, marking an 11 per cent increase from last year’s results.
There is an opportunity, however, with almost all (91 per cent) agreeing they have a chance to modernise how legal services are delivered, up 10 per cent from 2020. It is time, Deloitte noted, “for leadership to take bold steps to innovate legal operations”.
Other key findings from the survey included:
- Sixty-three per cent of GCs report that project plans are developed for new projects, up 16 per cent from 2020.
- Seventy-eight per cent feel they don’t have a process to validate whether work and resources are properly aligned, 13 per cent worse than last year.
- Seventy-one per cent feel that establishing better processes will help solve current technological challenges, an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year.
- Eighty-three per cent of law departments “programmatically” use preferred firms and vendors with negotiated rates.
- Forty-five per cent always consider using ALSPs and legal managed services, up 12 per cent from 2020.
- Thirty-four per cent leverage KPIs/metrics during periodic firm/vendor reviews.
- Thirty-three per cent do not routinely execute firm/vendor training.
- Fifty-three per cent aren’t using collaboration tools with their vendors.
- Fifty-four per cent say they have a defined and actionable legal systems road map, up from just 39 per cent last year.
- Fifty-seven per cent cited lack of adoption and change management as the biggest concerns related to technology.
- Seventy-seven per cent say leaders are investing and prioritising their resources on the things that best align with their business strategy.
- Thirty-six per cent believe the current project resource model has the right people doing the right work.
- Forty-two per cent report that legal teams understand which technologies house the data required to drive successful business decision-making.
The results, of course, pertain to the experience of US-based law departments. However, they offer food for thought for Australian-based departments as businesses and organisations here look to navigate the ongoing lockdowns across almost all major cities in the nation and look ahead to a post-pandemic marketplace.