Change Agents: Adapting the Legal Profession to Address Emerging, Growing Risks Whilst Controlling Cost
The Quick Take
- In-house counsel are grappling with a widening scope of risks and constrained budgets.
- Technology, paired with expertise, can maximise resources, identify and monitor increasing risks and bring efficiency to the legal department.
The legal profession is changing at a rapid pace. In-house counsel face a raft of new and intensifying risks, pressure to expand capacity whilst budgets remain flat and demands to innovate with new technology. No longer a department that focuses wholly on contracts, liability and disputes, the modern legal department is expected to operate as a strategic driver and efficient business function. Moreover, general counsel are taking leading roles in non-legal initiatives such as diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts, employee health and wellness, digital transformation and talent development.
In FTI Consulting’s and Relativity’s 2022 General Counsel Report, an in-depth study of challenges and best practices among general counsel at large organisations, roughly 60% of respondents indicated that their risk landscape is expanding and/or becoming more difficult to navigate. These risk areas include compliance, regulatory enforcement, data privacy, information security, emerging data sources and ongoing effects from the pandemic. General counsel also listed environmental, social and governance requirements and their impending impact on business, reputation and regulatory compliance as a new area of risk that had not surfaced in the study in previous years. In the study, feelings of preparedness dropped from the previous year in every major category discussed, including data privacy, emerging data sources (e.g., cloud-based file sharing, collaboration apps), AI and machine learning and blockchain.
These figures illustrate how legal teams are struggling to manage massive, diverse populations of data, respond to increased demands to do more with less and navigate the growing risk landscape. I’ll be discussing these issues in depth at the upcoming Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Summit in London. In the session Legal Industry or Legal Profession?, Jose Gonzalez, General Counsel at Equitable will join me in a conversation looking at the growing role of legal technology companies and service providers that are driving change in legal departments and asking how all pillars across the legal profession can collaborate and innovate to become more transformative and impactful as the field evolves.
Our teams at FTI Technology have seen these challenges first-hand within many client organisations where we have supported business transformation and the adoption of new technologies. For example, within one large bank in Europe, a variety of legacy technology platforms had been deployed across their global legal function, each requiring different skills, training and technical support, whilst collectively being unable to provide any insights on current and emergent risk. The legal team realised this approach posed significant commercial, security and legal risk, which prompted an initiative to implement a single solution that could meet the needs of many stakeholder groups while allowing flexibility as needs evolved. Our team worked with general counsel to deploy an end-to-end managed services solution, which provided in-house control over e-discovery and other related functions, in-depth training to users and support to scale capacity when complex litigation and investigations challenges arose.
This allowed the bank to drive all its legal matters forward using a consistent approach to reduce risks and provide better control over budgets. Additionally, over a number of years, the internal teams have grown to become almost 100% self-sufficient in the use of this technology, further reducing their reliance on service providers and associated costs. In the first 18 months of deployment, the bank’s e-discovery platform was used by nearly 2,000 users across 350 matters, all of which were independently managed by the client using the skills provided to them through a customised training package. As a result, the bank significantly cut its costs relating to creating, utlising and managing custom systems during a critical time.
In this engagement our teams demonstrated how collaboration between the corporate legal department, legal technology companies and service providers can be a catalyst for positive change in the delivery of services to all stakeholders.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.