Survey reports: In-house legal teams, more tech-responsibilities
Around 97 percent of surveyed in-house counsel said their companies' tech ecosystem has become more complex since they became part of the company
The general counsel's role in managing technology-related decision-making at an organisation has increased, but only a third of executives believe that GCs are adequately knowledgeable to handle advanced tech solutions, according to a new report.
The General Counsel Report 2022, published by US business advisory firm FTI Consulting in partnership with legal and compliance tech company Relativity, reveals that 97percent of 30 surveyed in-house lawyers feel they are increasingly involved in their company's technology ecosystem beyond just budget approval. More than 87percent of respondents state that they are heavily involved in aspects beyond budget approval, like tech planning and purchasing.
Over the past two years, general counsel's involvement in technology decision-making has grown by 13percent and technology has become one of the most prominent topics discussed by lawyers in connection to a company's legal function, especially during the recent pandemic.
The modernisation of technology and transformation of law departments continue to be critical priorities for in-house counsel, according to Wendy King, a senior managing director at FTI Consulting.
About 43percent of respondents said that the pandemic accelerated tech initiatives within their organizations, with many reporting how remote work had driven the need to 'improve tech onboarding and better train their teams to take full advantage of the tools already in place'.
As a general counsel, you will have to invest in technology road maps, training, and adoption programs that ensure that the team can do more with less to meet the endless list of demands and risks," King said.
Contract management accounts 40percent of IT spending, while matter management comprises 23percent of it and compliance software accounts 13percent, followed by e-billing at 10percent and e-discovery software at 3percent, according to the report.
In-house attorneys' proficiency with new tech, on the other hand, is another matter. Only about a third of respondents consider that in-house attorneys possess adequate tech skills to support technological advancements, a 20percent decline from 2021.
In fact, some respondents viewed improving tech capability as a 'critical' area for lawyers since increasing technological adoption entails increasing levels of personal data risk and increasing demands on the efficiency of legal departments.
A number of lawyers are now expected to possess a high level of technological competency because many of the types of legal work that lawyers perform today have very technical implications, particularly when it comes to learning about the systems associated with different projects, one respondent said, adding that many lawyers lack the technology they need to perform their duties.
"The maturity of lawyers is evolving, and I assume most are below the maturity level," they said.
Also included in the report was a discussion on artificial intelligence used by legal departments. General Counsel's use of artificial intelligence (AI) decreased a little from previous years, with 73percent stating that they do not use it in their day-to-day operations, compared to 67percent in 2021, because they do not see AI as actionable or useful in a practical sense.
According to a report published in February 2022 by the Association of Corporate Counsel with Exterro, general counsel are becoming increasingly responsible for a broader array of business functions, including environmental and social responsibility (plus 9percent), public relations and corporate affairs (plus 5percent), legal compliance (plus 4percent) and risk management (plus 4percent).