In organizations big and small, in-house lawyers are increasingly being asked to play a more strategic role. In addition to being legal experts, General Counsels (GCs) are taking on added responsibilities as senior managers and business leaders. The C-Suite looks to the GC to provide up-to-date, accurate information on a wide variety of legal matters, combined with strategic legal advice to base important business decisions.

But are GCs equipped to adapt to that change when it comes?

Changing Role: From reactive to strategic

According to “The General Counsel Barometer 2017” study from Wolters Kluwer and Raconteur, 38% of European General Counsel respondents noted that forming and implementing business strategy has become a major focus in the past three years, while 54% of respondents agree this focus will grow over the next three years.

However, as the report looks at GCs in smaller corporate legal departments, just over half feel that their role has been reactive and functional, with very few GCs capable of becoming strategically focused.

While large corporate legal departments (CLDs) are becoming increasingly strategy-focused over the next three years, smaller legal departments are slow to provide frequent input into broader business strategy.

But why the delay? It could be that compared to larger corporate legal departments, GCs in small organizations are simply less equipped and lack the resources to become more strategic.

The same report asked respondents about their legal tech adoption and found that 77% of the largest companies use specific legal tech capable of dealing with multiple areas of legal process while only 4% of the smallest bracket employ such technology. 

There is no denying that legal tech can increase workflow efficiency, automate complicated legal processes and enhance resource management, including external spend. However, these benefits are lost on smaller legal departments. In fact, technologies aimed at large CLDs are often too robust, complex, and costly for smaller legal departments.

The conundrum therefore, is how can GCs in smaller organizations become more strategic without implementing the technologies used by their CLD peers.

Learn how in-house lawyers in small organizations can accelerate their evolution from legal counsel to strategic-minded business partner by making wise investments in technology by downloading our latest whitepaper “The Changing Role of General Counsel”.