General Counsels (GCs) across Europe are adapting their roles and becoming more strategic. But it’s the largest organizations who are leading the way by embracing technological solutions to achieve their business goals. That’s according to the General Counsel Barometer 2017, released this morning by Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions.
The General Counsel Barometer 2017 is “designed to test the hypothesis that the challenges and priorities of European General Counsel are still evolving and to examine to what extent some companies are better equipped than others to adapt to that change.
The firm found that 38% of respondents stated that their role has become increasingly strategic in the last three years, but differences between a countries’ strategic focus are apparent. 47% of U.K. respondents feel their focus has been increasingly strategic, with this figure falling to 44% among Germany-based organizations and 39% among those headquartered in France. Alignment with business strategy will also provide a major focus for legal departments. 54% say that in the next three years their role will develop with an ever increasing focus on strategy.
Notably 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 using technology as an “enabler to manage manual processes so they can concentrate on strategic work.”
Technology adoption by GCs reduces radically as company size decreases. Although 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”, that falls to 30% among the companies in the $5-$25 billion segment). For the companies in the less than $5 billion bracket, only 4% employ such technology.