General Counsels (GCs) at European firms are adapting their roles and becoming more strategic post financial crisis, with the largest organizations readily embracing legal technology solutions to achieve their strategic goals. That’s according to the General Counsel Barometer 2017, released to the media today by Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions. Notably adoption of technology is “most prevalent in the finance and banking sector (68%)”, according to the survey results – arguably due to increasingly complex and stringent regulation of the sector.

The General Counsel Barometer 2017 effectively tests the hypothesis that the challenges and priorities of European General Counsel are still evolving and examines to what extent some companies are better equipped than others to adapt to that change, Wolters Kluwer notes.

There is evidence of a gulf between the survey’s largest and smallest companies’ adoption of technology to manage contracts, matter management, e-billing and compliance – with the larger organizations, including financial services firms, “using technology as an enabler to manage manual processes so they can concentrate on strategic work.”

Impressively, 77% of lawyers working in companies with an annual turnover in excess of $25 billion say they used “legal-specific technology capable of addressing multiple areas of legal process and integrating with other technology applications throughout the business.”  This falls as company size decreases (30% among the companies in the $5-$25 billion segment) and for companies in the less than $5 billion bracket, only 4% employ such technology.

The survey also found that lawyers were increasingly “going beyond legal and advisory input”. This was rated highly across all industry sectors. GCs in the finance and banking industry, conscious no doubt of ongoing issues within compliance and data protection, saw “data privacy and security” as their prime priority, with 46% putting it in the top spot.  The idea of “controlling or reducing legal spend also featured highly in the list of concerns in finance and banking (38%).