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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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The 2020 ACC CLO Survey biggest global survey of its kind

WASHINGTON (January 28, 2020) — As 2020 begins, compliance, data privacy, and cybersecurity remain critical challenges to business, strengthening the influence of chief legal officers (CLOs) both as legal experts and as business strategists. These findings are according to the 2020 ACC CLO Survey, the largest and most comprehensive global survey of its kind, with data from 1,007 GCs and CLOs across 20 industries and 47 countries.

The report illustrates the development of the “age of the CLO,” with 80.2 percent of CLOs and general counsel (GCs) reporting to their CEO.  This confirms a multiyear upward trend, 15.8 points over 2018. Nearly 73 percent of CLOs report that they are “almost always” engaged by the executive leadership team on business decisions. Furthermore, 76.2 percent of CLOs report attending their organization’s board meetings.  While this is a seven-point increase over 2017, it still leaves considerable room for improvement.

Another consistent trend is the growth of the legal operations function. The 2020 Survey found that 53.8 percent of in-house law departments employ at least one legal operations professional. Ten percent of respondents intend to expand their legal operations team in 2020.

“The CLO’s position as a major business strategist is universally accepted,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. “Three quarters of C-suites consistently look to their CLO on matters of risk and strategy, and with compliance and technology issues becoming increasingly complex, we expect to see that number continue to rise. The CLO role has evolved into a multifaceted legal and business leadership position, essential to operations around the world.”

Other notable findings in the 2020 ACC CLO Survey include:

  • Compliance and risk are the most common functions that report to the CLO.
  • A majority of CLOs expect to maintain or slightly expand last year’s levels of outsourcing to law firms and alternate legal service providers.
  • A majority of CLOs (60 percent) currently view cybersecurity as the most pressing danger for their company.
  • More than half of CLOs make use of cutting-edge legal technology, and 69 percent expect legal AI to accelerate in the near future.
  • “Redesign workflow processes” (57.6 percent) and “greater use of legal technology solutions” (49.7 percent) were the top initiatives used to increase law department’s efficiency in delivering legal services.

The 2020 ACC CLO Survey is available for free at www.acc.com/clo2020.  

*Graphics illustrating key findings available upon request.

About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking, and advocacy. With more than 46,000 members in 85 countries employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.com and follow ACC on Twitter: @ACCinhouse.

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