More GCs Expected to Triage Legal Expenditures in the Year Ahead, ACC Chief Legal Officer 2014 Survey Reveals
Ethics and Compliance, Regulatory or Government Changes and Information Privacy Lead as Most Pressing Issues Keeping Chief Legal Officers Up at Night
Posted: Jan 29, 2014
WASHINGTON (January 29, 2014) –– As demands rise for companies to increase profits and productivity, general counsel are shifting priorities in the year ahead to address challenging global business and legal issues, according to the Chief Legal Officer (CLO) 2014 Survey from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association representing more than 33,000 in-house counsel in 85 countries.
The survey, which includes responses from more than 1,200 individuals in 41 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Israel, revealed that ethics and compliance (88%), regulatory or government changes (83%) and information privacy (79%) will lead as the most pressing issues keeping CLOs up at night in the year ahead. Protection of intellectual property (74%), data breaches and protection (72%), technology developments (62%), social media management/governance (59%) and mergers and acquisitions (59%) followed close behind.
"We find that ethics and compliance issues are not only weighing heavily on the minds of chief legal officers, but also boards of directors and senior management around the world," said Veta T. Richardson, ACC president and CEO. "Businesses globally are recognizing how vital it is to ensure their top priority is abiding by ever more complex regulations."
Additionally, survey respondents indicated that staying aware of company business activities with potential legal implications, staying up-to-date on changes in law and keeping management apprised of legal developments are top priorities.
Strategic staffing and managing expenses in a global economy will also be a main priority for CLOs worldwide in 2014. Consistent with last year's survey results, 53 percent of CLOs altered their law departments' total budgets and 38 percent plan to make changes to their law department spending habits in the year ahead. CLOs also expect to increase their inside budgets by an average 3.1 percent and outside budgets by an average 1.3 percent, resulting in overall total budget increases of 2.3 percent. This is slightly higher than last year's overall average total budget increases of 1.9
"There is both a legal and business dimension to the equation," said Richardson. "In order to remain effective, general counsel are triaging legal expenditures and applying more approaches, leading to better overall law department management."
Although hiring patterns are expected to remain the same as in 2013, new positions are more likely to be created in compliance, intellectual property, contracts and risk management. According to the ACC survey, more than 30 percent of CLOs are creating new positions within their law departments to focus on compliance-related work. Further, ACC found that this year's respondents showed higher staff retention levels, including a substantial decrease in cuts to contract lawyers and support staff.
Other significant survey findings include:
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