Tech skills most in-demand for legal counsel, says survey
Nearly half of corporate legal professionals consider technology-related skills as the most needed for emerging legal counsel, according to new data from the ACC.
A new survey published by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), in partnership with litigation platform Everlaw, revealed the most sought-after skills for in-house legal professionals.
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The report was issued at the ACC 2022 Annual Meeting, with over 200 in-house counsel and legal operations professionals participating in the survey. The issues covered included each department’s approach to litigation, need for technology, criteria for selecting outside counsel and top litigation costs.
When asked which non-legal skill is most critical for the next generation of in-house lawyers, 47 per cent of survey respondents chose “the ability to adopt new technology”.
Additionally, 56 per cent of corporate lawyers expected their department’s need for technology to increase over the next year.
A majority of respondents (85 per cent) said that legal counsel must understand how emerging technology affects legal work.
Despite this, the survey found that a firm’s use of technology was the least selected option when considering outside counsel. Instead, industry knowledge and expertise came out as the most popular.
Moreover, legal professionals still aren’t fully utilising technology to minimise costs, despite previous reports that demonstrate that spending 3 per cent more on tech can save 29 per cent in costs overall.
The surveyed departments reported a clear desire to broaden their technology use, with 65 per cent indicating an interest in using automated redaction tools for personally identifiable information.
Other key findings identified the increasing length of litigation matters as a driving force behind the adoption of new technologies, with 46 per cent reporting a time increase for each matter. The industries that noted the highest increases included pharmaceutical and biotech, insurance, and construction.
The ACC also reported the most common litigation cost containment strategy was bringing more work in-house. Of the 59 per cent of respondents who recorded this, energy, healthcare, and insurance industries moved the highest rate of matters in-house.
Reflecting on the results, ACC senior director of business intelligence Blake Garcia reiterated technology adoption as the top skill for next-generation in-house counsel.
“Large-scale implementation of legal technology has been slower than anticipated due to a number of factors. However, we continue to see evidence like this that legal innovation continues to gain momentum by increasing efficiencies and lowering costs,” he said.
Chuck Kellner, strategic discovery advisor at Everlaw, also commented on the increasing move towards in-house life.
“Moving legal work in-house is inherently a technological endeavour. Because overall costs are the primary factor used to determine whether to settle a matter, reducing costs by bringing work in-house, powered by technology, can have significant impacts on a company’s litigation posture,” he commented.