Risk, compliance issues and resource constraints... just some of the key challenges facing in-house counsel worldwide, according to a new report from the World Law Group.

Produced in conjunction with LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell and consultants ELD International, "Issues and Priorities for Senior In-House Counsel Worldwide" surveyed in-house lawyers at major companies in 33 countries. Wragge & Co is World Law Group's representative law firm in England.

A unique report, it highlights the current challenges facing in-house counsel around the world, as well as action plans they have found most effective to meet these challenges.

With the turbulent global economy and the cross-border push towards aggressive regulatory enforcement, managing risk has moved up the agenda for in-house legal teams. A key finding of the report was that 70% of respondents whose legal department had experienced recent budget cuts believe these cuts have increased risks for their company.

What are the top three concerns? For 56.6% of respondents, the biggest challenge is the struggle to meet demand for services with constraints on resource. 45% cited the difficulty of effectively covering risks in emerging markets, while compliance challenges was stated as the main headache for 43% of respondents.

Here are the key findings on how in-house counsel are tackling the challenges they face:

  • 44.7% respondents have increased efficiency by improving or re-engineering processes/workflows, 41.3% by changing levels of experience or type of expertise in the in-house team and 31.1% by providing the tools and resources to enable their company to self-serve
  • Getting the legal function to be fully integrated in the business is ever-present in the minds of global law department leaders. Those considered to be most effective in that role know the business and its language of financial performance and are engaged in helping the organisation achieve its competitive growth strategy
  • Improving knowledge management capabilities is one of the most important priorities for respondents' legal functions in the coming year

As an in-house lawyer, you have much to do and little time to do it. Page 29 of the report indexes the content by subject matter, so you can quickly hone in on specific areas of interest. Page 30 also provides suggested action plans for in-house legal teams to consider in response to the issues raised by the report.

Founded in 1988, the World Law Group is a global alliance of 52 leading independent law firms. It offers access to more than 16,000 lawyers in 60 countries from 315 offices in major business centres around the world. Wragge & Co's corporate partner Stuart Young was appointed to the board of WLG in 2011.